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Tag Archives: wildflowers

Summer has come to an abrupt end. The good news is that wildfires no longer threaten people and their homes and soon the smoke will be gone from the valley.

Last week Mary and I and our pack of dogs headed for Harts Pass and the Pacific Crest Trail. We had a good hike to Grasshopper Pass, going past many PCT thru hikers who were anxious to keep walking. If everything went well for them, they’d be in Canada, 35 miles away, the next day. A few flowers were still blooming and we heard marmots and pikas and we ate a few huckleberries along the way. We had a little sunshine, some breezes, a little misty rain and ever-changing light. It was really lovely.

The Skyline Divide trailhead is at the end of the road where we were camped so that was our first hike. It goes about two miles steeply through the forest with occasional meadows before popping out on top of a meadow-covered ridge. I’m sure there are wondrous vistas to be seen at that point however it was pretty smoky and we could not see the mountains at all. The smoke was thick enough that I could smell it and I’m sure a vigorous hike in those conditions was not the smartest thing I’ve ever done. I was not alone. We saw several other hikers that day. We could have gone farther on the trail to find that we could not see other vistas so decided to just stay on the ridgetop and enjoy the flowers and bugs and also Black Swifts that seemed to be migrating in big flocks. This is a hike I hope to do again on a non-smoky day.

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.

Wildflowers, vistas, butterflies, dogs, clean cool creeks. What more could I want?

Yesterday summer arrived! It took its own sweet time this year. Temperatures in the valley rose above 90 but up high, they were in the 70’s – perfect hiking weather.

The girls and I made the long drive up to and beyond Harts Pass to walk up to the lookout at Slate Peak. From there we had a 360 degree view of the North Cascades! Seeing the peaks and basins, I could choose where we were going to go hiking and I chose my favorite – the stretch of the Pacific Crest Trail that goes towards Grasshopper Pass. Since we’d already been enjoying the day, it was a bit of a late start on the hike and we only made it just past Tatie Peak. Still, a wonderful outing full of grand vistas and charming wildflowers and a few animals too.

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