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Tag Archives: Cutthroat Lake

The girls and I have been out and about on some trails this summer. After a wet and cool spring, we have not had any rain in weeks. The paths are all dusty and dry. I carry water for my dogs and they appreciate it. The streams and lakes and snow patches are welcome sights!

Last week Marcy and I and Guthrie and Sky hiked over Cutthroat Pass, starting at Rainy Pass and ending at the Cutthroat trailhead. We knew the weather was iffy and carried extra clothes and gear. The first half of the route is on the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) and several through hikers passed us, moving at a pretty fast clip aiming to be in Canada in just three days. They had only seventy miles to the end of their long journey from Mexico. I always wonder about the long-distance hikers and, if by the time they reach this scenic area, do they even care how beautiful it is? Or are they just walking with their heads down, hoping to get this grueling hike over as soon as possible? No doubt, they have seen lots of wonderful mountain scenes along the way.

We took our time. It was ten and a half miles and we both made many photos along the way. We stopped for lunch before the pass thinking it might be too windy and cold on top to be able to relax. It never did get terribly cold. There was some frozen precipitation before the pass but it was hard and dry and we never needed our rain gear. Near the top we were treated to splashes of blue sky but the sun never materialized til we were almost finished. We did stop at the pass where it was not windy and were treated to a flock of Mountain Bluebirds!

The blue sky and bluebirds were a great contrast to the fall colors of the larch trees and mountain ash and other deciduous plants.

As we headed down, I was surprised that Sky remembered there was a lake down there. She has only done that route downhill twice before. That dog never forgets an opportunity to jump in a lake after a stick.

Winter is coming quickly to the mountains. Now the passes and peaks are snow-covered. I hope to get up there another time or two but it might not happen. So glad I went last week.

If you’d ask Sky what she wanted for her third birthday, I’m sure she would have said “I want to go to the lake and I want you to throw sticks forever!” And Luna would have said “Let’s invite all of our friends and their people and have a party at the lake!” But I didn’t ask the dogs. I made a decision to go for a hike and take them along. The hike did feature a lake, twice, so Sky sort of got her wish. And Luna met some new people but she was mostly pretty tired and not very social for a change. One mountain bike rider complimented them on their good trail manners. I did not tell him that they were tired.

We hiked to Cutthroat Pass from the Cutthroat Lake side. It can also be accessed from Rainy Pass, following the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT). But there are no lakes going that way. After some hot days here in the valley it was a refreshing 54 degrees when we started at the trailhead. Of course I was sweating by the time we got to the lake and the dogs were grateful for the cold water. They didn’t stay wet long as we climbed out of the forest and into the open rocky country on the approach to the pass. Kristen, from Methow Trails was one of the bikers and she is known for her wonderful photos. I was delighted when she asked for my camera to make photos of me with my dogs! After lunch, the dogs and I watched the mountain bikers descend and then walked quickly back to the lake. Sky was ecstatic. Luna was tired and she joined me, sitting in the shade nibbling on native huckleberries. After the 11 1/2 mile round trip they both slept all the way home.

My uncle invited me to join him for a hike to Rainy Lake in the North Cascades earlier this week. He wanted to search for interesting mushroom species and walk his dog and oh, he asked if I wanted to bring a cooler because he and his friend were having such a good crab season! How could I turn down any of that?

The weather was unseasonably cool for early September but here in the mountains we should expect that. The forested trail was pleasant and there were numerous mushrooms. His dog, Chopper, found lots of sticks that he urged us to toss for him. Sky liked swiping his sticks and Luna was busy looking for chipmunks. Waterfalls poured into the lake from the remaining snowfields far above us. The cloudy skies reflected in the water made it look dark and ominous and the breeze and a smattering of rain drops didn’t help much so we returned to the trail. In addition to the non-edible mushrooms we found a few boletes that Bill took home for supper.

After he filled my cooler and we had a cold drink we headed off in our opposite directions. As I drove back I decided to try for another lake. It’s only a two mile trail to Cutthroat Lake and an easy one too. Last fall it was Sky’s first real hike as a tiny puppy. It’s hard to believe she’s a 62 pound dog now. Where does the time go? Along the trail I passed the sight of a huge winter avalanche that had buried the place with broken trees. Luckily the Forest Service found the resources to clear a path though the devastation. I ran into friends near the lake and we had a nice visit. Cutthroat and Rainy Lakes are similar with cliffs lining much of the shoreline. On the way back I had the good fortune to see a pine marten! I don’t know how rare these little cuties are but this is only the second one I’ve ever seen.

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