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Hiking, North Cascades, Top Trips

Larch Week, Part One: Maple Pass

Washington State isn’t exactly known for its autumn colors, but if you venture into the mountains in the right place at the right time, you will see the prettiest fall pr0n show of them all: the turning of the larch, when these beautiful trees turn a golden yellow before shedding their needles for the winter.

This is why I want a red jacket]

Due to bad planning and general malaise, we missed out on last year’s larch season…and I have felt unreasonably bitter about it. This year I decided I was going to go larch hunting no matter what, so for months I had been planning to go backpacking the second weekend in October. As it turned out, I got to sneak in a bonus larch hike last Wednesday when Gabi planned a trip to Maple Pass in the North Cascades.

Hikers ascending

I have never driven that far for a dayhike before (three hours each way from Redmond – at least we were carpooling!), but man alive was it worth it. After some short switchbacks through the forest, we ascended a beautiful ridge with stunning views all around.

Happy hiker

I had never been to this part of the state before, but I immediately fell in love with the peaks adorned with a light dusting of snow and the drier landscape we could see to the east.

The Turning of the Larch

Best of all? The larches. Oh yes, I finally got to see my precious trees. They did not disappoint – I don’t know whether it’s endearing or just plain sad that I can get this excited about plant life.

Blue tarn

We strolled around the cirque above Lake Ann, taking pictures and breathing in the fresh mountain air, before reluctantly heading back to civilization and reality.

This is a trail I would definitely recommend to anyone – it will have to be next year though; it will be snowing up there all week – it’s an easy hike with huge payoffs (the trailhead is at 4800 feet, so you’re basically cheating your way into the high country), the trail is excellently maintained, and if you have any sort of soul, it will make you fall in love with the mountains forever. It’s also a loop hike, which makes it more interesting than the usual out-and-backs. The trail info can be found here.

Inspi(red) Lone larch Nom nom nom

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2 Comments

  • Reply Emm October 14, 2009 at 6:46 am

    Note to self: move to Washington State. PRONTO!

  • Reply Amanda October 14, 2009 at 2:33 pm

    I just spent an hour browsing the archives of your blog… and I just had to comment on how amazing your pictures are! So beautiful! I just moved to Colorado and these photos are so inspiring me to get out and hike a lot more. : )

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