As part of my ongoing mission to scout sections of the Pacific Northwest Trail, I decided to hike over Lyman Hill (really a massive mountain) from Highway 9 then walk down into Lyman.
Starting from the gated forest road off Wickersham Road, the ascent was pretty relentless: nine miles and 4000 feet of switchbacks, the last part exposed to the afternoon sun. Fresh bear scat on the road, a bobcat and some circling hawks kept things interesting on the way up. The views west over Anderson and Blanchard Mountains, Lake Whatcom and the San Juans became more expansive as I ascended.
At the summit the forest road connected to the Gurdjieff Connector Trail (love the name), a shady, grassy ridge walk that was a relief after climbing a hot dirt road all afternoon. Then things got confusing as I entered an active logging area, where large tractors and piles of felled trees obscured the trail. I walked a little ways up the clear-cut to a high point, and suddenly I got a spectacular view north to Mt. Baker and the surrounding peaks. This was the best view of the hike, thanks to the loggers. In fact all the views on this hike were made possible by clear-cuts.
As I descended the east side of the mountain I got nice views of the Skagit River valley and the North Cascades in the distance. I hammock-camped on a piece of DNR land above a trickle of water and went to bed early so I could exfiltrate the mountain before any loggers arrived.
To my surprise, one or two trucks rolled up the mountain around 4 am, so I decided to pack up before dawn and hit the trail. I walked forest roads down the mountain for several miles, connected to Pipeline Road and walked a couple of miles into Lyman for breakfast. As a final challenge, two rather aggressive dogs approached me and made it clear they didn’t want me passing by their house. I quickly found a large stick and prepared to do battle, but fortunately their owner came out just in time and called them home.
All in all, a fun scouting trip of around 21 miles from Wickersham Road to Lyman. I didn’t see anyone on the trail, though I did hide from a couple of pickup trucks in the morning because that’s how a Shadow Scout operates.