Blue Lake - North Cascades

While my wife sat in the sun on a significant granite lakeside boulder, at the outlet to Blue Lake, I circumnavigated Blue Lake in a counter clockwise way. It was slow heading at situations through the boulder fields, but I acquired my reward with some “just appropriate mild” at the considerably stop of the lake.

I was 3/4 of my way all over the lake shore when I took this image of the boulder field and the golden tamarack on the south shoreline of this attractive alpine cirque lake.


THE Story: I checked the climate forecast for the North Cascades, and observed two days of climate, that failed to seem like sunshine but failed to seem like rain. I wished to squeeze a few a lot more significant nation hikes in, just before the snow comes and addresses the trails for a different winter season.

There have been three high quality hikes on my “want to do” list, which I had not accomplished just before. Even though a lengthy drive from our property in Eastern Washington, I believed we could do the job in at the very least a single of the medium length working day hikes in (Harts Pass to Grasshopper Pass on the PCT), and the a single on my list that was the shortest and least complicated to entry (Blue Lake). I wished to scout the road to the trailhead for the 3rd.

I was pleased to know, that even with the “iffy” climate, my wife was seeking to do the hikes with me and was willing to expend an Oct night camped in the back of our pickup truck. If we camped at Harts Pass, I understood it could be a tad interesting at night.

So off we went, early in the morning on eight Oct 2014. We drove to the tiny city of Mazama, Washington(actually a blended: gas station, cafe, retailer, sporting goods products outlet run by some pleasant persons). Then the driving slowed as we headed up the winding asphalt road, touring the Methow River valley. Appealing cabins and rock climbing parking, alongside the way. That road at some point turns to gravel.

Then you flip sharply up a narrow, steep, winding, with blind switchback grime road, which qualified prospects you up the Rattlesnake Creek drainage to a significant saddle in a forest hearth burned place known as Harts Pass. It is slow heading to drive this stretch of road properly.

In late August of 2013, I had driven my RAV4 (bought with 200,000 miles on it, when we bought a different four wheel drive pickup truck with cover in August of 2014), to Harts Pass and had camped at Meadows campground (now in a burned in excess of place). The wind was intense when I arrived, so I pitched my inexpensive “vehicle camping tent”, up near and on the lee side of the RAV4, to get a night’s snooze.

The next morning I had a great hike north on the Pacific Crest Trail from Harts Pass, earlier Buffalo and Windy Pass and then up all over Tamarack Peak, south of Foggy Pass. A great working day hike.

Now on this Oct working day in 2014, I wished to hike south from Hart Pass on the PCT as considerably as Grasshopper Pass, if my wife and I would have time to complete the hike just before dark.

My wife and I left the “south” PCT trailhead in the vicinity of Harts Pass at about two:30 pm. With it getting dark all over 7 pm in Oct, we agreed we would flip all over at about two hrs of mountaineering, anywhere that could be. As it turned out that was about 3.five miles down the path and a total a single mile limited of Grasshopper Pass. But what a beautiful hike it was, even in primarily cloudy climate. The Tamarack Pine (regional identify for the larch, which is conifer, that sheds its needles each individual autumn), have been in primary bright gold and yellow shade. So we acquired our reward.

From this position on the PCT you are a lot less than 40 miles to the Canadian Border. We questioned as we hiked, if we could satisfy up with a PCT through hiker, striving to complete off the “to Canada” area of path, just before the snow arrived. We did. A wholesome suit (of course) youthful person with a more substantial pack than I have observed most PCT through hikers carrying. I requested him what his PCT “path take care of” was. He smiled and said “Ninja”. He had backpacked from Cascades Locks (in which the PCT crosses the Columbia River from Oregon to Washington). He was executing the entire PCT from Mexico to Canada in “sections”.

Soon after he accomplished the through Washington to Canada PCT path, he said he had only a single a lot more 200 mile area in Northern California to complete, then he would have reached his goal of mountaineering the entire path from Mexico to Canada. Hats off to solo backpackers like Ninja. I satisfied a similar through hiker north of Mt. Jefferson a few several years in the past and he much too was executing the hike..solo (Minor Buddha was his path take care of).

So Ninja headed north up the PCT toward Harts Pass, and we continued on south toward Grasshopper Pass. Soon after two hrs of continual mountaineering, my wife and I drop our working day packs in a amazing copse of larch, and ate a path food, hydrated, and took a brief relaxation. I had now determined that I likes the south area of the PCT from Harts Pass, significantly better than the north area, I had hiked last calendar year.

We took it slow in excess of the mud slides place of path on the way back to the trailhead. We have been surprised that the hike back out was incredibly near to the exact time we had hiked out on the path (two hrs). But we arrived at our pickup truck appropriate just before dark, and the temperature had now commenced dropping.

We talked over camping at the Meadows campground, as I had the past August. But we manufactured the final decision to drive down to Mazama and camp at the Early Winters campground on the Methow River there. It would be significantly hotter at night with the decline of altitude, and we would have all the rough grime road driving behind us, when we acquired up the next morning.

Initial even though, we took a limited side drive north through the fading mild, so I could demonstrate my wife the route up to the Slate Peak lookout. We stopped at a pullover with a check out and restroom to consume supper in the heat of the pickup truck cab. In the fading mild I noticed a small tent/bivy sack shelter set up at the edge of the pullover, near to the path. Ninja and I satisfied midway throughout the parking whole lot, smiled, and shook fingers.

I requested Ninja if he would like to share in some of our decadent, junk meals, vehicle camping materials. He agreed that, that would be great, so I opened up the back of the pickup truck and supplied an assortment of our “journey and camp” meals. A peach turnover seemed to be sure to him the most, and a crate or two of potato chips, and some dark chocolate. We also supplied him a cold eating plan Pepsi from our cooler, but we acquired so wound up in our path chat, I’m not positive if he ever acquired a single or not. He was a pleasant youthful person.

We left Harts Pass in the dark and drove meticulously down to Mazama. At the very least at night, with headlights, we would know if a vehicle was coming the other way, on the narrowest sections of the road. None came the other way.

We acquired a campsite at Early Winters ($4.00 for the night for us previous folks – senior price cut), and slept through the night, even though with an virtually total moon, it stayed bright outside, as we crawled into our mattress in the back of the truck.

Following working day we have been awake just before dawn, so we quietly pulled out of our campsite, and headed west up in excess of Washington Pass to the trailhead for our Blue Lake hike (a limited hike of about five miles spherical excursion. There have been only two other vehicles at the pleasant trailhead so we understood it wouldn’t be a crowded path, on this common and very well publicized hike.

We hiked to the lake in a scenic bowl, surrounded by larch, and with good sights of the Early Winters Spires on a single side and Cutthroat Peak off in the length on the other side of the lake outlet.

I noticed, what seemed like a “route” through the boulder field on the south side of the lake, so I requested my wife if she would thoughts waiting for me when I experimented with mountaineering all the way all over the lake. It was sunny, there was a huge boulder of granite to picnic on, and she had a very good offer of her favored chocolate (I carried the only working day pack on this hike).

So with digital camera in hand, I labored my way all the way all over Blue Lake, wishing I had better mild (it was nevertheless quite early in the morning), but grateful for some of the memory shots I was able to get.

We satisfied an older girl mountaineering with her dog, when I rejoined my wife at the Blue Lake outlet. She was from …. Mazama, Washington. She understood the place very well and was generous in sharing some good “long run hikes” facts with us. I wrote down the particulars.

Then my wife and I took the rapid (all downhill) hike back down to our truck and headed west. We crossed Wet Pass and when we acquired to Marblemount, Washington we turned to drive 10 miles up the Cascade River. It was a put we had under no circumstances driven, and there is some mountaineering in that place, that has been on my “want to do” list for much too lengthy. We did the limited reconnaissance drive, then retraced our route to Marblemount and headed west to Rockport.

Following, we drove to Darrington, Washington and then in excess of to the I-five freeway to start our way back property (loop route – – we had occur in excess of the North Cascades Pass highway and we would return in excess of Snoqualmie Pass). We came to some road development, in which we have been initially in line to be introduced to a quit, by a flagman. They have been fixing the road from a massive landslide. Then it hit me. We have been at Oso. In March of 2014 the huge landslide had buried and killed forty three persons. It manufactured countrywide information. The sizing of scale of the mudslide was challenging to understand, even even though we have been parked appropriate at in which the mudslide eventually had ended.

I requested the flagman if I had time to exit our pickup and snap a few shots. He said “five minutes”, so I acquired out and took a pair of photographs of this tragic web-site.

We had driven a whole lot of highway miles in the two days long gone from property. We had taken a pleasant 7 mile spherical excursion hike on the PCT from Harts Pass at the stop of a single working day and a different five mile spherical excursion hike at Blue Lake at the commencing of a different working day. The value for our right away stay (pickup truck camping), alongside the Methow River had been just four dollars, and with a clear night sky and total moon thrown in for very good measure.

We had also scouted the trailhead entry for a long run hike. We acquired back property at nine pm on Thursday the 9th of Oct. We unloaded the pickup truck (but failed to unpack all our mountaineering and camping equipment), took a hot shower and headed for mattress. A pleasurable two days and with some good autumn shade and a tiny significantly needed and appreciated mountaineering “training” thrown in.

OMT ~ 19 Oct 2014.

Posted by oldmantravels on 2014-ten-21 fourteen:00:56

Tagged: , Arch tree , Blue Lake , North Cascades , working day hikes , alpine lakes , reflections , autumn shade North Cascades , Cutthroat Mountain , North Cascades Freeway 20