Three Fingers
Jul 31, 2015
Aug 1, 2015
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Jul 31, 2015

The long road walk that begins the climb of Three Fingers Fire Lookout is downright awful. But, even on the way up there are spots that you can ride a bike. Make sure you bring a bike and a lock so you can chain it to a tree. That way you can pretty much coast your way back home. Your legs will thank you.

trail to goat flats on three fingers
rare section of defined trail
trail through the woods to goat flats
trail to goat flats
start of the old trail to goat flats
start of trail to goat flats

Once we finally made it to the trail-head we felt excited to start the hiking. Yet, the next 2 ½ miles to Saddle lake was all spider webs, bushwhacking, and bugs. It felt like a nightmare as we moved like snails through much of the dense brush. There is a lot of blow-downs to climb over and many times that we would lose the faint trail. Take GPS…

Saddle lake was drying up early this year with the warm weather and was harboring a fair amount of bugs. We passed it by as fast as possible and figured we could get water at the flats. Past Saddle lake is more bushwhacking for another 2 miles until you reach the first open meadow. Here the trail quality improves a bit but most of the time it still felt like we were walking in a river bed.

first view of three fingers from goat flats trail
first view of three fingers
old trail signs to goat flats
old trail signs from before closure
meadow just before reaching goat flats
meadow before goat flats
goat flats near three fingers climbing trail
Goat Flats
goat flats near three fingers climbing trail
Goat Flats in Fog
Queest alb glacier and three fingers
Queest alb glacier
Waterboy along the ridge to three fingers
waterboy on the ridge line

From Goat Flats follow the obvious trail leading uphill on your right if you are facing Three Fingers. As the trail approaches Tin Can Gap it begins to get interesting.

The climbing gets tough as the trail skirts along the side of the hill crisscrossing the ridge as it goes. The Moat is completely bare this year. From where the moat is, it’s an easy hike with limited scrambling to reach the snowfield below the summit.

mountain goat kicking rocks down on us along three fingers route
mountain goat above our head
making water from the queest alb glacier
making water from the glacier
brandon getting ready to descend the moat
brandon at the top of the moat

If you are decent with navigation and have a knack for scrambling the entire route on Three Fingers is easy to puzzle out. Enough people use it that there is still a trail. The biggest problem we faced was exhaustion from going that far with 7000+ feet of elevation gain for the day.

three fingers fire lookout on middle peak
three fingers fire lookout
mount baker from tin can gap on three fingers
mount baker from tin can gap

The ladders were steep and crooked but no problem after a few deep breaths. Be careful of the small gap in the rocks on the top of the second ladder. It is very narrow and my pack was difficult to fit through forcing me to climb the rope hand over hand.

Despite the throbbing pain in my body from the long ~15 miles arriving at the lookout made it worth every step. Come for the summit, stay for the sunset, and sleep on top of the world. I will be back for this one someday.

Watching the sunset over Mount Baker and Glacier Peak will long be one of my favorite sunsets I have seen.

sunset from the three figers fire lookout
sunset from the lookout
mount baker at sunset from the three fingers fire lookout
mount baker from the lookout
sunset over the olympic mountains from three fingers lookout
sunset over the olympics
glacier peak from three fingers fire lookout
glacier peak from the lookout
mount rainier from the three fingers fire lookout
mount rainier from the lookout
Aug 1, 2015

As the sun was going down on the first day, two young kids arrived at the Three Fingers Fire Lookout. By this time there were several of us sharing the hut for the evening. We all expressed surprise at their lack of gear and they said they were camping at goat flats. We urged them to get back down before dark and gave them some water to get them back down the trail.

Both were wearing jeans and cotton T-shirts and looked ill-prepared. During this conversation, one of them mentioned that they did not bring bikes. I brushed it off thinking it wasn’t important. Neither Brandon nor I had remembered locks for our bikes. We put them far into the woods so people wouldn’t notice and hoped for the best.

When we returned to the trailhead, our bikes were gone.

I suspect the two kids who came to the Three Fingers Fire lookout late used them to get down. We were lucky to have found them lying in the grass near the bottom of the road. I suppose we can celebrate that they “weren’t stolen.”

We would end up walking back down the 8-mile roadway. Since we had to walk it despite bringing our bikes, I can attest that without a bike, the descent from Three Fingers Lookout is exceptionally long. Bring a bike and Lock it up tight.

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