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Tag Archives: Cutthroat Pass

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.

This is another great fall hike! We started at the Cutthroat trailhead and hiked five and a half miles to the pass where we connected with the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) and hiked down another five or so miles to Rainy Pass where we had left a second car in the morning. We did not have the blue skies and sunshine of the previous week’s hike and that made the dogs a lot more comfortable. Also there were numerous stream crossings, especially on the Rainy Pass side, where the dogs could wet their whistles. At the pass we saw quite a few PCT through hikers who were nearly to their goal on their hike from Mexico to Canada. The ones we talked to said they should reach the border in just four more days. They were all cheerful and looked healthy and hearty. After such a long journey on foot, I think I expected them to look gaunt and tired.

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