A couple days ago, the dogs and I got up and out early in the morning to find some respite from the heat. We made the short drive to the Blue Lake trailhead and were on the trail by 7:30! The forest was cool and damp and there were dew drops on the shrubs. We haven’t had dew in the valley for quite a while. At home the temperature continues to linger in the high 90’s and low 100’s during the afternoon so we needed a break. ‘They’ say there will be a break in this heat but with that break we have the promise of lightning.
Wildflowers were lush along parts of the trail. Crossing an avalanche chute, the views opened up into the North Cascades. At the lake we enjoyed the sight of the back of Liberty Bell, the iconic rock formation that dominates the horizon at Washington Pass.
We were the first to make the 2.2 mile hike that morning and had the lake nearly to ourselves all the time we were there. Going down, after we passed the halfway mark, we saw numerous hikers going up in the growing heat of the day. I imagine a few of them enjoyed the waters of Blue Lake almost as much as Sky did.
Interesting yellow fungus. It resembled cauliflower.
X marks the spot in the trail
What’s the big deal?
Luna liked the snow better than the lake!
I just know that mom will be so pleased if I can get this big stick and carry it to her!
A mud bath really made Luna happy.
Do we have to leave?
Just one more swim before we go
We did not see of these habituated goats. Whew.
Last weekend I had a wedding to photograph at the North Cascades Environmental Learning Center on Diablo Lake. It’s a beautiful location and a terrific venue for a wedding. There are rooms for guests to stay and wonderful food – much of it locally sourced. Diablo Lake is just over the crest of the North Cascades via Highway 20. It is one of three dammed reservoirs on the Skagit River and its color is a wonderful turquoise from the glacial runoff of the high mountains. To get to the learning center, you have to cross Diablo Dam, an old structure, quite unlike the dams of the Columbia River. Sunday morning we had a nice hike to Sourdough Falls before returning home.
Dams were built prettier in those days.
Looking straight down
Can you imagine what the Skagit River was like before the dams?
I hate to see dogs lumped in with guns and smoking.
Sweet looking berry growing by the trail
my new friend
Rock stairs near the end of the trail
Shadows on wet rocks
A spent mayfly
Tiny little garden tucked into the rocks
Big growth rings
As the Cougar Flats fire began to explode I was high in the mountains with my friend Mary from Montana. The weather was hot that week – 100 plus degress so we were anxious to get someplace cooler. We packed a little lunch for us and the dogs and headed to Harts Pass. Indeed, it was a glorious day in high country and we were lucky to enjoy it.
We started out on the Buckskin trail descending into the basin below Slate Peak
How to get a Labrador retriever’s attention
Hey – did Gus get a cookie?
My, what a big tongue you have Luna
Tiny bubbles in the creek
Smoke on the horizon down valley
Pretty white flower that looks like miniature bear grass next to shooting stars
Two women and three dogs with a self timer? That was a challenge!
Mary and the Labradors!
She found a rock that looked like her home state of Montana
Gus was insistent on trying to climb the stairs despite the sign that specifically said not to.
The smoke grew as the day went by
The Pasayten Wilderness looking north to Alaska
Maybe my favorite wildflower
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!
Beautiful Blue Lake, behind the Liberty Bell spires
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!
The trail starts out across this big talus slope
Slate Peak lookout can be seen on the far left
Anemone occidentalis or western pasqueflower
Phlox and pasqueflower
Walking on the PCT towards Grasshopper Pass
The meadows really are that green!
What is Luna thinking about now?
Pack with a view
Tiny bell-shaped flowers of heather
Jacob’s ladder, Polemonium sp.
the heart of the North Cascades
I like Lewisia
There was lots of Lewisia!
Oh look – Sky found a stick!
How many kinds of plants?
Silver snags from an old forest fire
The snow is soft
Alpine larch trees with their fresh green leaves
Frida enjoys a cool creek after the hike