Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Stujack Pass

Yesterday, six of us headed up to Stujack Pass, a hike off the Mountain Loop Highway after another two-hour drive away from home. Diane and my friend Judy joined the usual four of us on our Monday adventure. None of us had been to the pass but had been given a little advice from a seasoned hiker: it is longer than the guidebooks say, and it's pretty hard. The picture above was taken on our way up from treeline to the pass, that low spot between the peaks far, far away.
The higher we climbed, however, the more spectacular the view. The first few miles of the journey were in dense forest, so we would have been in shade in any event, but when we started we were in fog. Here you can see the remnants of the fog in the valley below. That's where we started from. It continued to clear and was completely gone from this valley by early afternoon. The flowers, however, grew more and more profuse the higher we climbed.
It is impossible for me to recapture the feeling I had looking at the hillsides filled with flowers. I didn't get to look at them for too long, though, since the trail was rocky and very steep. At times it took all my attention to watch every step as I trudged upward to the pass. But we did finally make it to the top at almost 6,000 feet of elevation.
Looking back down the way we had come showed some amazing peaks, unfamiliar to me. On the left is (I think) Sloan Peak, looking like a Matterhorn from here. And then when I turned to look the other direction, I saw an old friend!
Behind the large White Chuck mountain in the foreground is Mt. Baker! And I could see that some fog was still hanging around in the valley on the left. By the time we headed back down, however, I think it had burned off everywhere.
The scenery was just amazing, but we had a long way to go before reaching our cars, and the trail was just as hard going down as it was going up, requiring me to brace myself with my trekking poles to keep from slipping on the loose dirt of the trail. The hike was advertised to be around seven or eight miles from start to finish, but we all agreed (and the GPS did too) that it was more like ten or eleven miles, and 3,800 feet elevation gain and loss. A hard hike, but a beautiful one.

I went home and showered, it was really late, but I fell into bed and now the sun is coming up on the day after, and I feel pretty good, except for some residual tiredness. The entire month of August has been beautiful and filled with some incredible journeys, many of them for the first time. Labor Day is next Monday and the equinox is right around the corner, so I'm happy to have been able to make such great memories, after a slow start to the hiking season due to the snow.
:-)

24 comments:

  1. Yikes! That last photo looked steep alright. I walked along a 2,000 foot drop on the Big Island. But the trail wasn't quite that narrow. The reward was beautiful sunny photos above the clouds.

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  2. What beautiful memories you have made this summer. Those photos are outstanding, especially when enlarged, and that path hanging on for dear life is so enticing. I Love those kinds of paths. I can only imagine how satisfying this has been, and, of course, will continue to be. Just exhilarating to even watch from a distance through your photos and the telling.

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  3. We noticed this morning the days are getting shorter. Seems like only last week the days were much longer. Enjoy those beautiful walks while you can.

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  4. gorgeous mountains...the field of flowers i bet is marvelous...

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  5. I think this is one of the prettiest hikes I've read about. Those views are just gorgeous. What a treat for the eyes it must be to see in person. You sure work hard at your hikes.

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  6. I love the flowers!!
    all the photos are amazing

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  7. All the photos of your hike are extraordinary DJan, especially the first and last, you certainly captured the majestic beauty of the mountains and the loveliness of the wildflowers!

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  8. Wow, so steep it appears you are on top of the world !
    A challenging hike to say the least ...
    What an awesome view, and the flowers endless...or so it seems.
    Beautiful pictures !
    ~Jo

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  9. Steep, challenging and beautiful. Loved the columbines in the first shot. Loved them all in fact. Thank you.

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  10. Are those columbines in the first photo? We usually get them in the spring and then they're finished for the season. The one photo with the slope on the left made me feel as though i wanted to turn the photo...like it was one of those shots people take on a slant. Not sure why they do that...but anyway it felt like that belly flop feeling you get from a roller coaster ride looking at that. Pretty cool!

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  11. That last photo is really steep and kinda reminds me of looking downhill on the Cape Breton Trail in Nova Scotia. Check it out next time you "have time" on internet - I find your photos so wonderful - also love the flowers, especially the first one. Hard to keep your mind on the trail with so much beauty surrounding you.
    Take care - looking forward to your next adventure.
    Lilly

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  12. Karena, I realized when I read your comment that the first picture was really not straight at all! I fixed it and put it up again. Those are indeed columbines, but because of the late spring we have flowers that would, in a normal year, be completely gone by now!!

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  13. Being a prairie BOY I OFTEN THINK OF WHAT THE PRAIRIE WAS LIKE BEFORE MAN DESTROYED IT. THE PRAIRIE WAS ALIVE WITH FLOWERS. THE MOUNTAIN MEADOWS HAVE SO FAR ESCAPED DESTRUCTION. There are small remnants of prairie left where flowers in profusion can be enjoyed.
    Thanks for going to all the effort and showing us a wonderful part of the earth.

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  14. You've had another wonderful hike and generously shared it with us through your photos. Beautiful, as always.

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  15. Wow!! Vast fields of flowers, mountain peaks, blue skies, woods, lush greenery...these are great pictures of what must have been a breathtaking hike. Since I have a fear of heights, I don't think I'd do well at all that high up with gravel slipping under my feet. I admire you so much, lady! And thank you so much for sharing all these adventures with us. It is greatly appreciated!! :):)

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  16. What a GREAT name !!! Stujack pass...

    What beautiful handiwork of some fearless God...

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  17. I agree with Sharon, the last photo does look really steep. One of those trails that make you walk sideways.

    Gorgeous scenery DJan, I love your first shot of the flowers. It sounds like a hard hike but the best views usually come when we work harder.

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  18. Wow, those flowers are huge and beautiful! Your stamina is remarkable. That downward hike looks intimidating.

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  19. I can assure you that if I went up and down that much I would feel more than 'residual tiredness!' Thank you for sharing this one because those flowers are so gorgeous.

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  20. I didn't like that last photo at all..way to high for me..and steep uneven walking..I bet you were tired. IF I made it that far up, I would have just given up and left my body for the bears..and napped in the wild flowers.
    This is perhaps the most beautiful hike you have had all summer..:)

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  22. It is very beautiful photos! I like watching at nature.

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