Monday, August 9, 2010

Happy Hiking Heather

Last weekend, we'd planned on doing a camping trip, but since Washington State is protesting sunny weather, and because we felt like we were falling behind on our chores around the house, we decided to just do a day hike. So, Friday morning we loaded into the car, and headed up to the Mountain Loop Highway, just east of Everett.

Initially we were thinking that we'd planned on doing the Lime Kiln Trail, but the road to the trail head was mysteriously closed off, so we again changed our plan and headed to the Mt. Baker Snoqualmie National Forest to pick a trail at random. We've actually hiked several trails in this area before (Dickerman, Lake 22), but decided on something new instead: Heather Lake. What promised to be a relatively easy 4 mile hike (round trip) to a sub-alpine lake.

Sarah and Stella at the trail head. Let's go!

Parking our car at the trail head, and loading Stella into the trusty hiking back pack we set off. The first portion of the hike was a little mixed, the heavy canopy of trees blocked most of the sunlight, so there's wasn't much in the way of ground cover, and a stubborn mist hung in the sky giving the entire woods a dark and atmospheric vibe. But, on the interesting side, we were treated to the site of giant old growth stumps... many of which had become nurse logs themselves.

One of the many old growth tree stumps. A little sad, but still impressive, and the new trees growing out of them are a cool looking addition.

Farther up, the mists rose, green bushes appeared and the old growth stumps were actually replaced by some surprisingly large old growth trees, literally rising into the clouds.

Higher and higher. While some trees were broken off at the tops, others seemed to simply rise into infinity.

Hiking with Stella poses some unique challenges in that she is only happy to ride in the backpack for about a mile or two, and then wants to explore a bit on her own. Unfortunately, once she's out of the backpack, she's reluctant to get back in. So, we have to pick out hike lengths carefully. That why we were luck that, just as she began to fuss, we crested the hill, and entering into a large, stunning bowl canyon, with the equally stunning Heather Lake at its center.

Our first peak of Heather Lake. Wow. My initial reaction: "Now I wish we'd brought out camping gear and could stay the weekend!"

Stoically surveying scenery.

The lake was small enough that it was easy to walk the entire way around it. So, we started around looking for a nice place to stop and have our snack/lunch. But, not far along, Sarah introduced Stella to the joy of Salmon Berries, and from about that point on, Stella's main goal became the acquisition for the tart, orange berries.

Salmon Berries... Stella's new hiking obsession.

Stopping on the far side of the lake, we took off our packs, sat down on some small boulders and dug into our food. Momentarily forgetting the salmon berries, Stella made another discover: Beef jerky. Her little teeth didn't seem to be able to bite through it easy, but she happy jawed and sucked on it until the meat became a slimy mess.

Babies first beef jerky!

Looking back across the lake, I made the same observation I seem to make every time we take a hike: I don't know why I always drag my feet to go hiking, when I always love this type of thing so much.

Gratuitous beautiful landscape.

Soon the food was done, so we made our way around the lake a little more to find a beach for Stella to explore. Most of the lake was hedged in by marshy grass or boulder fields, but we still managed to find a small gravelly beach of Stella to get muddy on. While she played and tossed gravel into the lake, she managed to inadvertently summon some strange little brown/black ducks who obviously thought she was trying to feed them.

Getting ready to test the water. By the end, Stella was stripped down to her diaper and shirt, and was wading out to her knees. So, like, six feet out.

Drying Stella off, we loaded her back into the backpack and made our way back down the mountain. A simple, beautiful day of hiking. Who could complain about that? Another thing you can't complain about: Beer and pizza at Stellar's Pizza as our post-hike reward.

In the next couple of weeks, we have a couple more camping and hiking trips planned. After this, I'm looking forward to them!

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