Coffin & Bachelor Mountains

We wanted to get one last hike in on the way home from vacation and Coffin & Bachelor Mountains provided the perfect opportunity. We decided to combine these two short hikes and climb both the neighboring mountains on the same day. A two-day long spat of thunderstorms had ended, but the clouds remained in the Cascades and it quickly became clear we wouldn’t be enjoying any views from the summits on this day.

We parked at the Coffin Mt. trail head and set off on Forest Road 1168 toward the Bachelor Mt. trail. We could have driven to this trail head, but instead we decided to walk the 1.2 miles of bumpy roads and enjoy the roadside flowers.
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It was an easy walk so we quickly arrived at the post (no sign) marking the start of the trail.

Since the clouds were denying us the views we had hoped for we turned our attention to the many wild flowers still on display and the abundant ripe strawberries which we sampled throughout the day.
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The trail climbed up through a forested side of the mountain then turned a corner onto a drier rocky hillside. The trail then leveled out on a forested ridge. The vegetation was very damp and our shoes and pant legs were quickly soaked.
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The trail split and we took the left fork toward the summit. After passing through another forested section we again found ourselves amid wildflower meadows where a few bear grass plumes remained as did some cascade lilies.
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Then the trail traversed a small rock slide where a Pika stood lookout before reaching the small flat summit where a fire tower once stood.
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The clouds were so thick we couldn’t even see nearby Coffin Mountain so after a quick snack we headed back down and returned to the Coffin Mountain trail head. Near the start of the trail we found a thimbleberry patch with two ripe berries. We tried the berries and unanimously decided that they were now our favorite wild berry. The trail then continued up amid what must have been a spectacular display of bear grass. Even though the bear grass was done many other flowers remained in bloom.
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The number and variety of flowers increased as we made our way up the 1.5 mile trail to the staffed lookout tower.
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When we reached the summit a cloud was passing over limiting visibility to several feet. From the edge of Coffin Mountains cliffs all we could see was grey making for an eerie effect. We made use of the helicopter pad and had a second breakfast.
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A couple of slight breaks in the clouds gave us a view down to the forest below but it was obvious we wouldn’t be seeing any of the Cascade peaks this time around. We were anxious to get back down to the car and head home so we quickly covered the 1.5 miles back to the car. This one will be added to the list of hikes to retry when the weather is better. Happy Trails.

Facebook photos: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10201735237249857.1073741848.1448521051&type=1
Flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/9319235@N02/sets/72157634901559507/

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