Right at the beginning, red blueberry bushes on fire!
What a boring title for the fabulous hike we had today! I just cannot think of anything better. I tried a few: "Lake Ann: Uphill Both Ways," and "What a Way to Spend Your Day," but you know, nothing seemed quite right. Today is the last day of a long series of sunny days that we in the Pacific Northwest have experienced. Tomorrow the rain returns. Only eight Senior Trailblazers met at the Senior Center for this hike, rated "hard." The wet roads and heavy mist on a gloomy morning probably caused some to decide to do something else with their day. They were WRONG. As we drove to the trailhead, the fog cleared and the sun began to shine in earnest. Can you believe the fall colors?
The reason that the Lake Ann hike seems to be uphill both ways is that once you begin, you hike downhill for somewhere around 800 feet before crossing a few miles of fairly flat land and then hiking back up a thousand feet to reach Lake Ann and the glaciers on Mt. Shuksan. Three of our hikers had never been to Lake Ann before, so here they are seeing their first view of the lake as we reached the top of the pass.
The lake is shining in the sun as Jonelle, Ross, and Rita see it for the first time. We stopped for lunch in full view of the glaciers on the back side of Mt. Shuksan. On the way up, we heard what was quite possibly a huge chunk of ice falling into the valley below. It sounded as loud as an airplane going over, but it stopped quickly. We didn't hear any more, but Al got this picture of me that shows the glaciers behind me.
Last year when we reached this spot, it was covered with snow. Although it was almost exactly a year earlier, the difference in the environment was simply amazing. Check it out here. (I was astounded when I looked at the picture of Lake Ann and realized it was covered with snow on October 13th last year.)
There were still a few snow banks on the lake, but its level was low, and for the first time in the experience of many of the Trailblazers, we were able to actually hike all the way around the lake! From this point, those of us who went around the lake headed clockwise around it before joining the others. It was easy and simply delightful.
Here you see Amy and Rita, who were walking along the beach before I asked for a picture. From this point we traversed left and up to the main hiking trail before heading down. This hike is an "out-and-back" so we had to descend to the valley, cross it, and finally climb back up to the trailhead. That makes this hike pretty difficult, because after having expended one's (limited) energy for most of the day, the last part is uphill. (It wasn't as hard as other years when it was full sun beating down and no breeze. At least there was a cool breeze today.)
We were almost back to our starting point when Al stopped to admire the color of these blueberry bushes (I found a few tasty berries). The color we saw today was nothing short of breathtaking. I will put some more pictures to show this on my Flickr site, but not tonight. I'm really tired and ready to take a shower and perhaps climb into bed a little earlier than usual. But it's a GOOD tired!