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Tag Archives: North Cascades

Last weekend Marcy and I hiked to Windy Pass on the Pacific Crest Trail. It’s a pleasant hike – never steep – with outstanding views all along the way. In addition to the fantastic views of the North Cascades a hiker gets to see evidence from the mining adventures dating back to the 1890’s. Given the rough and narrow road that we have to drive nowadays to get to the trailhead, it is amazing to imagine miners traveling to these distant mountains on foot or horseback and hauling immense loads of equipment too. One spot in the road is called Deadhorse Point and scares the beejebers out of some folks in cars.

Guthrie, Marcy’s dog blew out his knee last year and is just a year out from surgery and injuring his other knee. It’s good to see him running and grinning with the other dogs. Even with three dogs we got to see a little bit of wildlife including lots of ground squirrels and a few grouse.

As we finished our lunch and got ready to head back, we heard a familiar voice and saw a friend from the Okanogan. He had scaled nearby Tamarack Peak and joined us for the hike back to the parking area.

The weather was cool and sunny – perfect for a late summer hike on the PCT.

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!

To the mountains. The season to visit is short and seems shorter each year. Maybe because of aging and the sense that time flies ever faster each year, or maybe because of the impact from fires on our small community. Whatever it is, I always feel like I don’t get enough time in the mountains. So on Friday I left at noon, knowing it would be a long drive and I’d not have too much time, but it was worth it. The dogs were ecstatic to play in the old snow and I relished the early summer mountain wildflowers – some so similar to what bloomed here months ago and others much different. The weather was cool and there was a little bit of rain. We didn’t care.

The dogs really enjoy running and playing in snow. They take turns being the chaser and the chasee but Luna gets to decide when it’s game over.

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The flowers and the views were outstanding. Swainson’s and Hermit Thrushes sang from the tops of trees and under the brush.

The girls and I hiked to Black Lake on Friday. This hike is more about the trail than the destination. It follows Lake Creek which is really roaring with white water now. I was pleased that the girls stayed away from the rushing stream. The area burned about ten or fifteen years ago and is a recovering forest with standing silver snags, numerous species of shrubs and wildflowers and in some places there are thick stands of small pine trees and aspens. Every year lots of those silver snags fall, often across the trail, and it hasn’t been logged out yet. According to the information at the trailhead, there are 48 downed trees along the route. This certainly slows a person down. Most I could get across; some I had to go under and in at least one case I had to go around a big log.

Another feature is a series of beaver ponds near the lake. These efficient engineers have dammed up a tributary creek and created some really good habitat but also have flooded the trail in places. It proved to be a bit of a challenge for me to get across a series of downed logs over the pond to return to the trail.

The flowers and bird song slowed me down too. I was able to identify four different warblers by their songs alone. I stopped many times when the trail was away from the stream, so I could listen to the birds and photograph the flowers. Needless to say, I did not make good time on this hike but like I said, it’s more about the trail than the destination.

And here’s the list of birds I heard and saw:

Ruffed Grouse

Mourning Dove

Calliope Hummingbird

Hairy Woodpecker

Pileated Woodpecker

Olive-sided Flycatcher

Hammond’s Flycatcher

Dusky Flycatcher

Warbling Vireo

Common Raven

Black-capped Chickadee

Pacific Wren

Ruby-crowned Kinglet

American Robin

Nashville Warbler

MacGillivray’s Warbler

Yellow Warbler

Yellow-rumped Warbler

Chipping Sparrow

Dark-eyed Junco

Song Sparrow

Spotted Towhee

Black-headed Grosbeak

Red-winged Blackbird

Pine Siskin

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