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Yesterday was our sixth wedding anniversary! To celebrate, we hiked to our wedding spot and then on to Aspen Lake. It was a gloriously warm morning – we are finally getting nice weather. The wildflowers are at the peak of their bloom. Yes, it really was that vibrant. Bird song filled the air.

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.

What a place! We left the house at 8 am and drove for less than an hour on a paved road to a trail that took us to this gem of a lake! And we had it to ourselves. Amazing!

It was the last fun adventure in what has been a lovely staycataion – sharing good times with old friends and visiting some of the highlights of our neck of the woods. The time was interspersed with some work (one wedding and some gallery stuff), a couple of big rain storms and the resulting washed out road that serves our little neighborhood and dealing with a contractor for the repairs. But mostly it was lots of fun with Mary and then Kim and our beloved dogs. Let’s do it again soon!

These last couple of weeks I’ve been very lucky to share so much time in the mountains celebrating summer with dear friends and our dogs. On Wednesday Kim and I took our dogs up above Harts Pass and did an afternoon amble around a basin below Slate Peak. It’s a wonderful wildflower walk with lush green meadows and meandering streams. We climbed out of the basin to visit the lookout and take in the 360 degree views of the North Cascades. My dogs got to be in snow again in August. Last year I could not find any for them late in the summer. It is my goal to find snow for my dogs every month of the year. Luna loves snow. It’s a great relief to see it lingering into late summer once again. What a gorgeous day!

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