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Yesterday we hiked to beautiful Blue Lake in the North Cascades. What a relief from the 100 degree heat here in the valley! We saw some snow (much to the dogs’ delight) and found the lake still had a little bit of ice so that clear blue water was cold! That didn’t stop Sky from jumping off the rock in pursuit of sticks!

Every summer I try to get up to the Harts Pass area as early as possible to catch the start of high mountain wildflowers. I have to wait til the road is open and passable. There are always new washouts over the winter and the Forest Service works hard to get it open for use. Hot weather has settled into the valley so it was a great relief to get up high and enjoy the cooler mountain air and sweet little creeks flowing with melted snow. The dogs were excited to be in snow too! The Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) crosses through this region and can be accessed at several trailheads. We picked the one that goes generally south towards Grasshopper Pass from near the Meadows campground. It was a good choice with a cool breeze and enough water to keep the dogs hydrated and snow to cool their feet and bellies. The snow and water won’t last long with this hot weather. It’s too early for the through hikers to be here – they are the ones that start at the Mexican border and walk all the way to Canada. We had the trail almost all to ourselves except for the marmots, pikas and ground squirrels. We saw only three other day hikers. The wildflowers were over the top beautiful!

Once winter really settles in, the passes out of the valley to the west are closed to traffic and we find ourselves near ‘the end of the road’. So far this year, we haven’t had too much snow but it has been cold enough to freeze many of the lakes. On Sunday we took the drive up to Rainy Pass and walked through the snow to frozen Rainy Lake. Ken took his ice skates and I carried my cameras and we took the dogs too. Of course. It was mid-afternoon by the time we got up there and the sun had dropped behind the North Cascades but it was warmer up high than down here in the valley. This is a weather inversion and has caused a bit of air pollution in some places. It was a fun walk and Sky’s first real experience with snow! Nothing seems to slow her down. We did try to keep her from going to far off-trail for fear she would get stuck and we’d have to rescue her. The ice was pretty rough for skating and Ken thought it might be a little soft too but he gave it a try. The dogs loved running on it and I just tried to keep them all away from each other. Walking back to the car, the alpenglow light on the high peaks was amazing.

We are ever so grateful to live in this beautiful place.

Along the Blue Lake Trail

Ken and Luna and I did the short hike to Blue Lake Sunday afternoon. After the previous week’s torrential rain storms, highway 20 is once again closed so hikers can only access some of the trails from the east side. It was a good time to go. And then when we started on the trail we were amazed by the dizzying array of mushrooms we saw! Their spores had waited patiently for the big rains and then they burst through the surface of the soil, moss, bark, dead wood – where ever they could find an opening.

 

Yesterday Luna and I and Guthrie and Guthrie’s person Marcy went for an afternoon hike at Blue Lake. From the valley it was easy to see that the first snow had fallen in the North Cascades so we knew we would see snow along the way. We drove through it at Washington Pass and the trailhead was covered with white stuff. The dogs were thrilled to see fresh snow! Luna has been lucky to find snow every month this year. The north-facing slope didn’t provide terrific lighting for the afternoon hike however the grandeur of the scenery lit up our senses and we quite enjoyed the short trek to and from Blue Lake. The views were full of graphic bold images and reflections that left me wondering what was real and what was reflected. Lots of images were made.

This is an avalanche chute full of debris along the trail

Guthrie relished the snow

These brown icicles dripped off of an old log

Blue skies, fiery larches and new snow!

This larch seems to be waving goodbye to fall or hello to winter

The outlet

Reflections everywhere

What’s real

The iconic viewpoint for Blue Lake. It looks much different in summer.

It is almost too much to take in with one image

With the fading light, the mountains and sky provide a bold graphic image in black and white

Guthrie – who could resist this guy?

Gray Jays stopped to see if we had any food to share

Otherwise known as Camp Robbers

Color?

Or black and white?

Reflections in black and white

Goodbye to fall and Blue Lake for another year

Luna in her birthday buff

Again, what’s real and what is reflected?

Down the trail in the late afternoon light

Two peas in a pod

This tiny pond is a delight

Reeds, all bent in the same direction

With frosted Christmas trees across the way

And still, Blue Gentian blooming. In the snow.

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