This is the awkward time of year for mountain forays — many of the winter snowshoe trails now too slushy or high-risk for avalanches, and the higher trails still socked in with the white stuff.
But Thor, Bear dog, and I were feeling the call of the wild to the nearby North Cascades peaks, so we hiked the mostly snow-free mining “road” (a generous designation for the deeply-rutted track) to the Twin Lakes trailhead for a sunny picnic on the edge of the frozen-but-melting lakes. Later this summer, we’ll return to hit the actual trails climbing above the lakes, our reward afterwards a dip in mountain-fresh waters. (Thor translates: “Freezing-ass waters.”)
We were blessed with a gorgeous, clear day midweek, so we ditched paper-grading and editing and headed up the switchbacks. Here is a glimpse from partway to the top, our car parked down below on the lowest switchback, before the road gets really rough:
The hot slog uphill did reward us with gorgeous mountain views, rushing snowmelt waterfalls and streams for Bear to plop into and drink from, and colorful wildflowers.
We enjoyed our lunch perched above the lakes, with not another human withinin sight or hearing. We admired the luminous blue waters at the melting shores, the snowy peaks, and more waterfalls. Bear admired the soft snow as he whirled around and then lay down to cool his belly. (I have to explain that despite the worried comments we sometimes get from other hikers, Bear’s type of coat is not supposed to be trimmed for summer, as it actually is insulating him from the heat and sun.)
Our sweat-salty arms and legs were apparently much admired by lovely little blue butterflies, and larger orange monarchs, as they landed and walked around tickling us with their probing tongues. (Query: Does a butterfly actually have a tongue at the end of that long, snaky proboscis?) Along with the deep breaths of pure mountain air that my mother always used to counsel us girls to take in, on the hike back I inhaled the rich colors of the mountain blooms.
And, finally, happily tired and hot and sweaty, we stopped at our favorite hidden spot along Hannegan Creek for a (very) quick, cleansing dip in the icy runoff waters. Bear agrees that the tingling rush lets you really howl to the hills, “I’m alive!”
Sara’s newest from Book View Cafe was recently released in print and ebook: The Ariadne Connection. It’s a near-future thriller set in the Greek islands. “Technology triggers a deadly new plague. Can a healer find the cure?” The novel has received the Cygnus Award for Speculative Fiction.