Winchester Mountain Lookout – A High Elevation Find!
I am very fortunate to have the North Cascade Mountain range and the Mount Baker Wilderness practically in my backyard, here in Bellingham, Washington. We have backpacked and explored much of the area and trails but there was one jaunt that had been elusive and escaped us. My wife and I have never hiked the Winchester Mountain Lookout Trail. We’ve always wanted to but it just never happened until last week when I received a call from a young couple who lost a ring on the trail up the mountain.
The Winchester Mountain Lookout is an old Ranger fire lookout built in 1935 and staffed until 1966. It was slated for demolition in 1982 but rescued by the Mount Baker Club who now keeps it up and is used for overnighters who want to spend nights there. It is quite comfortable but no longer has a wood stove in it. But the key feature to this spot is its views. A magnificent 360° view of the Mount Baker Wilderness and into British Columbia.
So when the call came in I was excited, saddened by their loss but excited at the opportunity to get up there and take a look, for the ring and the view. So my wife and I met Ethan and his wife at the trailhead and up the mountain we went.
The ring was lost about a mile up the trail, maybe a bit less, about 6000 ft. elevation. They had it marked with a GPS coordinate. But they knew the spot all too well as they had been back looking for it with a rented metal detector with no success. If there is only one piece of advice I can give someone who has lost some jewelry, it would be to not waste time and money on a rental metal detector. Probably 90% of the people who contact me had already rented a metal detector and tried. It is not worth it because in most cases it will not be an adequate detector and they are not as easy to operate as one might think. Well we made it to the spot and went to work.
The ring was lost when a large bug landed on her hand and she quickly whisked it away along with the ring down a steep slope off the trail. They pointed out the area where it happened and we recreated the mishap. I started with the area where they thought it was and had no luck. I then worked my way out from there and made the find.
It is always nice to put a smile on someone’s face, in this case I got two big smiles. Then we packed up and headed to the top. It turned out to be a beautiful clear day with spectacular views. What a rewarding day. I love this hobby and love The Ring Finders.