Nestled in the North Cascades, Goat Flats is/was often the stopping point along the trail to Three Fingers Lookout. Goat Flats it's self is a worthy destination. I say "was" because mother nature, and Forest Service Budge cuts have conspired to make this trip a week long adventure. First the road washed out, then a logging operation. Well at least the logging operation helped with a partial repair, but was closed the road while logging was on going. The result is it has been years since there has been any reasonable access.
With the logging operation ending this weekend, and a contractor scheduled to work the road next weekend, this weekend was a short window of opportunity to get in there.
I drove the 8 miles of drivable Forest Service road then switched to mountain bike for the remaining 9 miles to the trail head. Cached the mountain bike at the trail head and continued on to the Wilderness Area foot on what is left of the trail. The trail has always been a rugged one. Now, the first 3/4 of a mile resembles a dry creek bed....well it kind of has turned in to a creek in the rainy season due to drainage problems. Beyond the 3/4ths mile the trail is overtaking by brush, devils club and salmon berry.....nasty stuff. The trail tread is slumping resulting in an ankle twisting side hill.
At 2.5 miles Saddle Lake is reached. In summer it more resembles a swamp, it's water tinted brown by cedar tannins. Typically in the past i would just blow by this place as it did not seem too appealing. But i wanted to find a place to sit and have lunch. So wandered a bit.
I was rewarded for my wandering. To my shock the old Saddle Lake shelter was still standing, at the edge of a small meadow. This trail side shelter is very very old.
After lunch i pressed on to Goat Flats. Thankfully the trail from Saddle Lake to Goat Flats is i much better shape. Still i was moving at a snails pace cause i was already tired. That's ok...cause the views are nice.
At Goat Flats i set up camp.
After setting up camp i relaxed, watched the clouds clear, the sun set, moon rise, frost form on the ground, and a meteor shower before retiring late. I got up early and watched the sun rise.
Then after breakfast i strolled beyond Goat Flats bound for Tin Can Gap to have a look at the Glacier Crossing, to reach the Lookout. I was stopped by short glazed over field with bad runout. As i did not pack Crampons or Ice an Ice axe crossing was not an option. Properly equipped this would have been a trivial crossing...or even after late afternoon sun it would have been easy...but not in the morning after below freezing temps. It was the end of my trip so i headed home.