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But it was stunningly beautiful. Easy Pass. It’s another great hike right off of highway 20 through the North Cascades. It starts out in a green, moist forest, something we don’t get to experience very often. That is because it is west of the Cascade Crest where there is more precipitation and it’s not as hot. Much of the trail goes in and out of the forest giving some respite from the sunshine. We had a fair amount of off and on cloud cover in addition to somewhat hazy skies as a result of wildfires. At a certain point the trail really gets to work – sending you up and over seemingly never ending talus slopes. Ok, I’m not in very good shape and the steepness was pretty hard on me, both going up and going down. Even Luna and Sky were pretty tired. But the views were worth it. And there were creeks most of the way so the dogs had plenty of chances to cool themselves.

Friday night, Ken played at the Methow Valley Ciderhouse! It was a pleasant evening – not too hot for a change – and customers enjoyed his songs. He was joined by local cowboy poet, John Doran and also our good friend Mary sang with him too. Richard and Lynne, owners of the Ciderhouse, have put in a nice dog yard so people can bring their dogs and they can enjoy the music and hang out with their friends too.

It’s fire season and once again we are getting no breaks. There is a large fire (Crescent Mountain) burning in the upper Twisp River that is causing great concern locally. So far, it has stayed away from homes but there is no containment on it. There are fires in southern British Columbia that are also burning out of control and when the wind is right, the smoke descends on us and fills the valley. These images are from last week when the visibility was better than it is now.

Last week the girls and I hiked to Rock Mountain. The trail starts at Tiffany Springs campground which was full of campers. Unusual to say the least. It’s a long bumpety bump road to Tiffany Springs and few people make the trek up there. The Washington Native Plant Society was having a weekend of plant hunting and quite a group of amateur and professional botanists were out on the trails in search of rare plants. They are pretty good folks to be around – quite willing to answer questions about plants and other natural history topics. One of them did try to tell me I was going to Middle Tiffany Mountain and not Rock Mountain but after looking at my map and asking a friend who is familiar with the area, I’m quite sure I went to Rock Mountain.

The trails goes first to Tiffany Lake, an idyllic mountain lake, home to non-native, but tasty, brook trout. No one was fishing when we went by so the girls enjoyed chasing sticks in the cold water til the mosquitoes and black flies forced me back on the trail. The bugs followed us all the way to Honeymoon Pass and then finally let up when we got into a pleasant breeze. From there a person just follows the view across the rocky slopes to the mountain top. Lots of wildflowers and a few birds were interesting distractions and good excuses to go slow.

Our evening skies have been especially lovely recently due to wildfire smoke coming down from Canada. It’s pretty ironic that we’d get so much beauty from such destructive forces. We are lucky to live in a place that doesn’t have too much light pollution.

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