Saturday, June 17, 2017

Hiking in the Cascade Mountains

One of the things we like about our location at Tulalip Casino is its proximity to the Scenic Mountain Loop within the Cascade Mountains. We are right next door to a National Forest with good mountain trails, and we read good things about the Lake 22 trail. On the way, Denisa couldn't help but notice the wildflowers along this little mountain road.

She had never seen the bell-shaped foxglove flowers growing in the wild. They were grouped around guard rails, looking like a formal garden in the middle of the forest.

Now that we have those flower pictures out of the way, we can get on with the hiking. We were glad to have heavy-duty soles on our boots, because this trail turned rocky for most of the hike.

After an hour of hiking straight up that trail, we finally broke out of the trees to see the peaks around us.

We were working hard and not taking many pictures until we hiked the 3.5 miles to our destination--Lake 22. And our first view of the lake made the tough hike up here worth it. We have wandered into another of God's wonders!

If we move Denisa out of the picture, we can see Pilchuck mountain behind the lake, still wearing a skirt of snow. The clear water of the lake is perfectly reflecting the snow.

There were several other hikers getting that view of the mountain from the cleared boardwalk with us. But what could we see if we hiked through the snow-covered trail that went around the lake? It's a little treacherous, since the snow is melting from the bottom.

But it gave us new views of the lake from the side, where the reflection in the lake makes an interesting view.

Hiking from the other side, the water of the lake reflected the green of the trees around it to make a beautiful aqua-marine color.

We paused at the top for a good long time, and then it was time to hit the trail for the long walk downhill to the car. We are enjoying more spring wildflowers, and Denisa is trying hard not to take too many pictures. But when we see something new, she just has to take a picture.

That's a pretty cool bright-orange-shooting-star-shaped bloom, but she wonders what the face of that bloom looks like. It takes a limbo-move on the trail to take a picture of the downward-facing bloom that most people will just hike right by without noticing.

We really prefer a good loop hike, where the scenery changes for the entire hike. But we are headed back down the same trail we just hiked up. To keep from being bored, Denisa plays games to distract herself from those redundantly steep rocky parts of the trail. Today's game is counting the times we must cross the water that keeps flowing over our trail.

The reason that everything is so green is the water that freely flows from the sky and the snow melt. So Denisa is counting every time we have to rock-hop across the flowing water, or find an alternate way around a pool of water that completely covers the trail. Want to guess how many times that happened?

We're back to the opening in the trees where the peaks around us are brighter and the sky bluer than when we were hiking up-hill.

We think this trip back down the mountain will be tasty in a few weeks. We found out that these are thimble-berries that will ripen into tasty red berries.

We can't lie, we were glad when we got to the bottom of that mountain and could sit down. We had forded through 54 water crossings to get to the bottom. That means it was 7 miles and 108 water crossings for the entire hike. That might be a record for us. Our legs say that it should be time to head home, but there's one other stop to make.

This is Big Four Mountain. Instead of hiking, our legs agree that the view near the parking of all 6,135 feet of this mountain is quite grand.

But do we have enough energy to walk to the base of that grand mountain?

A mile later, we are standing at the snowy foot of Big Four Mountain. We have found ourselves back in the snow once again.

This is called the Ice Caves Trail. That's because it brings a hiker right down to the base of the mountain, where icy caves form as the snow melts from the inside of the tall drifts at the base.

It must be a little late for the caves this summer, because this is the only one we found. We had carefully read about the dangers of the caves, and the warnings from the family of a young girl that died when a cave collapsed. So we kept our distance, and followed the advice not to go inside.

Now that we've hiked close to ten miles, we really are on the road towards home. As we headed back to the motor home, we were entertained by more tiny blue wildflowers along the highway. With the grand views and the spring wildflowers, we are enjoying these Cascade Mountains in our new back yard!

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