Once again, my hiking buddy Rex organized a hike to Three Fingers. (see 2007, 2006) We had a large group this time: 10 guys!

This time I have presented the story as about the journey.

20090918_three_fingers0 The trail starts out amid huge old trees. Since we were starting out with high energy, we didn't notice the frequent up-and-downs of the trail. (But we did on the way out!)

20090918_three_fingers1 Finally we get to saddle lake, and turn...

20090918_three_fingers2 Into a section that climbs through ponds, and marshy land.

20090918_three_fingers3 Since we have gained altitude, the seasons start to move back to spring and wild flowers.

20090918_three_fingers4 I also found this huge toadstool. (The next morning it had opened into an umbrella shape.)

20090918_three_fingers5 Eventually we start moving into land with more drainage.

20090918_three_fingers6 The bushes are more woody, and the evergreens grow more closely.

20090918_three_fingers7 We are approaching Goat Flats, and at times the trail is deeply rutted.

20090918_three_fingers8 On other hikes we had paused at Goat Flats, but this time we keep moving.

20090918_three_fingers9 A long grassy hill goes up to the trees.

20090918_three_fingers10 Now much of the rest of the hike will be traversing slopes. For a while we pass in and out of trees.

20090918_three_fingers11 From the trees we can start to see the infinite hills.

20090918_three_fingers12 And underneath the trees are blueberry bushes. We joke about our stained fingers and lips.

20090918_three_fingers13 The early traverse is surrounded by grass.

20090918_three_fingers14 Our goal is the gap in the middle. We will be coming from the left.

20090918_three_fingers15 The rocks under feet become larger, but the trailmakers did an excellent job so that the way is pretty flat.

20090918_three_fingers16 Finally at Tin Can Gap, we can look back and see Mt. Pilchuck.

20090918_three_fingers17 And then to the right, the way we came, in line with the Puget Sound and Everett.

20090918_three_fingers18 Ahead and above is our goal, with glaciers below it.

20090918_three_fingers19 Yours truly!

20090918_three_fingers20 To the right of the peak is the ridge we will be following; sometimes on top, but mostly on the far side.

20090918_three_fingers21 At times, the trail is like a sidewalk!

20090918_three_fingers22 But then there is the chute. It is steep, and many of the rocks are unstable. A safety rope has even been installed there.

20090918_three_fingers23 Usually there is only one or two people in it at a time.

20090918_three_fingers24 The trail just afterward is smooth, but has dramatic drop-offs on either side.

20090918_three_fingers25 This section we are climbing in ernest, and the trail is not as stable.

20090918_three_fingers26 Looking back, we can see the trail crossing the back side on the left as we have followed the ridge.

20090918_three_fingers27 This last climb to the snow field is again a good trail. Near here is our last source of water from snow melt.

20090918_three_fingers28 Then the snow field. The slope is brutal, and you have to climb carefully.

20090918_three_fingers29 The final scramble is tricky because the best path up isn't obvious, and the rocks tend to slide.

20090918_three_fingers30 Finally the notorious ladders.

20090918_three_fingers31 And we reach the top!

20090918_three_fingers32 This perspective shows why the ladders are needed. 25 feet of that top peak was dynamited off to make enough room to put the cabin up there.

20090918_three_fingers33 Andrew and Vasiliy were tired.

20090918_three_fingers34 But once up on top, you immediately start soaking in the view: Mt. Baker to the north.

20090918_three_fingers35 Mt. Rainier to the south.

20090918_three_fingers36 The infinite peaks to the east.

20090918_three_fingers37 The Puget Sound and the Olympics to the west.

20090918_three_fingers38 And empty air below you on all sides.

20090918_three_fingers39 When Dan and Harley arrived, they set up on the front porch making coffee, and later dinner.

20090918_three_fingers40 It came to sunset.

20090918_three_fingers41 And the shadow of our mountain could be seen almost touching Glacier Peak.

20090918_three_fingers42 Dan had spotted mountain goats, and we were all trying to track them.

20090918_three_fingers43 Every time I have been up here, the sunsets have been outstanding!

20090918_three_fingers44 And then the lights of the city come out.

Somehow we found room in that little 14x14 cabin to sleep 10 adult guys!

20090918_three_fingers45 The next morning Davey shot the sunrise.

We all left the cabin pretty early to get on the trail.

20090918_three_fingers46 And we all made it back to the cars tired, in great spirits, and in good time.