Sunday, October 11, 2009

Maple Pass 10/7/2009

When you combine great group of people, trail with incredible views, bit of fall colors, first snow of the season, clouds perfectly placed in the sky adding a bit of drama but not obscuring any of the views, plenty of sunshine, and incredible sunset later in the day, it calls for a wonderful adventure. And we had just this perfect combination of elements during our hike to Maple Pass.

Our day started early as we drove long ways through the awakening mountains and small mountain towns towards the trailhead on Hwy 20. I travelled this road few times already this year but today with fog rolling around the road, hugging farmhouses and creeping around the bottom of the mountains, I really enjoyed the 2+ hours drive plus it was also a nice change to continue deeper into the mountains than we usually do.

The trailhead welcomed us with distinctive chill of an October morning. There's no denying that the cold part of the year is knocking on the door. The good thing - there was no wasting time at the trailhead - everybody was ready to move (just to keep warm) pretty fast.

Soon after we left our car, a paved path led us to a junction where we chose the steeper trail as a beginning of our loop. It proved to be a good choice. After about couple miles we emerged from the forest and enteres world of magnificent views. Our pace slowed down considerably, and the sound of our boots marching up the hill was replaced by the sound of our cameras snapping hundreds of photos which did not stop until we dropped back into the forest on the other side of the valley.

Maple Pass is going on "My Favorites" list. I'm definitely going to hike this trail again in the future.

Hidden Lake Peak 9/23/2009

The weather prevented us from heading up to the lookout twice this year. Rain, t-storms.... conditions you really don't want to experience atop a mountain.

Finally, the forecast got more friendly and promised sunny day for North Cascades so off we went to get Hidden Lake Peak Lookout off our list.

The day turned out awesome. To our surprise we arrived at the trailhead and there was about 6 other vehicles there already. In remore area, on Wednesday early morning. Does anybody work these days?

The hike was amazing. In short - views, more views, even more views... combined with lots of berries and fall colors starting to show.

It was definitely one of those days that make you want to stay up there forever.

Ptarmigan Ridge 9/12-9/13 2009

Backpacking trip to Yellow Aster Butte was something I was looking forward to since the beginning of the summer but the weather's been very uncooperative lately. Sunny during the week but turning in rainfest as soon as Friday comes. I postponed the trip twice due to stormy forecast. Then finally a sunny weekend came - but all of the people who wanted to go already had different commitments.

Panorama Baker

With the amount of stress I was dealing with lately (my Mom being very sick) I really needed to get out of the house, enjoy the simplicity of life in wilderness, and let the nature help me to relax a little.

Evening sets in

Chad saw how miserable I was in last few weeks and despite his fear of bears suggested that we still go. Now that it was only the two of us, I had to reconsider the logistics of the expedition. Yellow Aster Butte is a spectacular destination with tremendous views, tarns reflection surrounding peaks, and sweet little scramble to the true summit. It is also the only place in Washington State I ever saw a bear and on the top of that the first mile of the trail is rather steep. Not being able to split the weight of group gear among seven people as originally planned, I was worried that Chad's knees would not do well on the steep part.


Than I remembered recent trip to Ptarmigan Ridge and cool little camping spot we saw about 3.5 miles in the hike where my favorite volcano, Mt. Baker makes the primary view. And the new plan was born.

The weekend turned even better than forecast predicted. We hiked in under clear sky with all the views available. And we were not alone. The trail saw hundreds of visitors that weekend. According to the trail register that was only one other group camping who headed ahead of us and their planned camping spot was further than ours, yet there still was this little bity feeling inside me, making me wonder if the spot I had in mind would be open.

Water stop

Just as we approached the last stream crossing we run into a couple of day hikers who took one nalgene bottle of water between the two of them. At this point they were completely out, and 3.5 miles away from their car. We were about to filter our water for the night anyway so we filled their bottle as well. Hopefully they learned their lesson and won't run into the same problem in the future.

Night time

Anyway it was a great feeling when finally after a hot 3.5 miles I peeked over the hillside, and found the area empty. Quickly I descended the last few hundred feet off trail to claim our weekend's living room. About 5 minutes later, another couple of backpackers arrived. They found a nice spot little further on the plateau.


The rest of the trip was filled with surprisingly warm evening, beautiful sunset, star gazing, goats sighting, no bears to be seen, tons and tons of blueberries, and that all in a great company of my husband and amazing majestic mountains.

This adventure trully couldn't turn better.