Werner Peak Lookout
We left from Whitefish, meandering around Whitefish Lake, then headed north on Red Meadow Road towards Upper Whitefish Lake. About 9 miles in, we turned up the mountain on the last road towards the lookout, which was stated in my new hiking guide as an addition 5.7 miles. As we bumped up the rutted, narrow road, listening to great tunes and chatting about this and that, we had no idea that we’d round a bend and run smack dab into a long patch of old, slick snow, several feet deep. Not to be deterred, we parked along the roadside, leaving room for others to do the same, donned our packs and headed out.
The warm wind in the valley was still wrapped around us, but as we ascended, clamoring over long swaths of snow, and bush-whacking every now and then to get around the big snow drifts that still remained, the wind began to bite a bit. I was certainly glad I’d packed those extra duds! We had our dogs with us, and they were joyously scurrying after chipmunks, romping in the snow, and sniffing everything in sight. Some wildflowers had begun to bloom, but Winter’s grip was still upon the land. Up we went, and when we crossed the last patch of snow and peeked out of the trees, the sweeping vistas into Glacier Park were amazing. The views on the opposite side of the mountain aren’t so shabby (views into the Salish Range and down to Whitefish Lake), but the vast views east are breathtaking. The majestic peaks lined themselves up as if to welcome us to their world, and their crystal, snow-capped beauty reached out and touched my soul.
The lookout is quite new, built in 1983, and is perched on the spine of Werner Peak at 6,960 feet of elevation. When we arrived, the wind was biting, and the fleece came out in a quick hurry. We knew from all the snow drifts, that it was not likely we’d be able to find our way into China Basin. We confirmed that as we located the trail down which winds down the spine of the Werner Peak, as it was under about 6 feet of snow. Little had we known we should have brought snowboards and snowshoes!
The views and feeling you get when you are on these magnificent peaks is phenomenal. There is so much freedom, so much peace, and it makes you want to set up camp and stay a while. The view into Glacier Park makes this a rewarding trail, and we plan on coming back later in summer to experience China Basin. Strap on your hikers, grab a map, and head out to explore this summer. You never know what you’ll find, and whatever it is, it will make a great memory for when you’re old and gray.