Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Stujack Pass 2013

Stujack Pass 2011 and yesterday
One of the real benefits to having a blog like this is going back to past adventures, with pictures and narrative. I wasn't sure exactly when we went to Stujack Pass previously, but I found it was at the end of August 2011. That was the year when the snow didn't melt for a long time, and the flowers, even at the end of August, were incredibly prolific everywhere we went. Not so this year. Although the seasonal difference in the two above pictures was less than two weeks, the divergence in conditions could not have been more striking. Take a look here at the pictures I took two years ago.
Is that pepper? Looks ready for the frying pan
There had been some serious rain up here a few days before we arrived, and the mushrooms had sprouted everywhere we looked, as we made our way up toward the pass from the trailhead. We must have seen a dozen (or even more) varieties, where some had popped up through the ground so quickly that the ground cover was pushed hastily aside.
Red fungus on a dead tree
The colors of some of them were amazing. This one caught our eye as the sun shone right on this pretty one. I have no idea if any of these are edible, but nobody was willing to pick any of them and give them a try! Soon, a lake came into view on the trail, and I realized I had forgotten about it until I actually saw it again.
Al checking out the lake
Most of the first part of this hike is in dense forest, beautiful and shady, which was a boon to those of us hiking up to the pass. We climbed pretty steadily in the trees until we reached the clearing where those first two pictures were taken. From then on, it was all in sunshine, but we did have a pretty nice breeze and stunning views of the surrounding mountains as we climbed. I remembered seeing this rock outcropping from our previous trip, which looks very much like a castle.
Castle with mountains behind
And then we had reached the summit! One of our hikers had gone on ahead of us so he could climb to the top of Mt. Pugh, but none of the rest of us had any desire to try it. The pass itself revealed our old friend, Mt. Baker, from the other side than we usually see this mountain. This is looking northwest from the pass and using my telephoto lens. It wasn't really that close.
Mt. Baker, with White Chuck in front
Once you reach the pass, there aren't many places to sit comfortably, since this trail drops off precipitously in both directions. I found a place to sit in the sparse shade, but it was on a pretty steep slope, and I almost lost my camera when I dropped it in its case and it went bouncing merrily toward the dropoff. I held onto Diane's hand as I retrieved it.
Stujack Pass summit
After enjoying our views and finishing our lunch, we headed back down to the car. We were a little worried because Mike had not yet returned from the summit of Mt. Pugh, and we had expected him before we headed back down. But since he's an experienced climber, we didn't worry too much.
Peggy and I, getting ready to head down
Once we got back to the view from the clearing just before the forest, we hung out and watched that little low spot on the pass until we saw him. Al's binoculars confirmed that it was indeed Mike, so we took off, expecting he would catch us before long, and that's just what happened.

We were all pretty tired by the end of the day, having traveled ten miles and gained and lost somewhere just under 4,000 feet of elevation. We stopped in Arlington at a Mexican restaurant and had dinner. It was pretty late by the time I pulled into my driveway and I had to walk up the steps to my apartment. My knees were not happy, but now that it's the next day and I've had a good night's sleep, all is well. I think I'll be ready for another hike on Thursday.


  1. love that castle! such a gorgeous area! i'm so glad you share it with us!

    (and good save on the camera!)

  2. Absolutely breathtaking !
    That castle rock is spectacular, and so unique.
    I can see why you spend endless energy hiking those trails, you are indeed rewarded with such majestic views...

  3. oh my goodness...glad you did not lose the camera over the cliff...we would have lost the views...that castle is cool...we have had some really crazy mushrooms here this year...guess from all the rain...

  4. Love the castle, the fungus, and the views. And of course you will be ready for another hike next Thursday. And the one after. And the one after that...

  5. What a great day you had! Bouncing camera and all. It's funny how some passes are more or less gentle slopes and some are very sharp divides. One I remember like Stujack is Molar Pass.

  6. Another perfect day for the Trailblazers. That rock outcrop does look like a castle and it's magnificent against the mountains. I love the colorful fungus.

  7. Ten miles??? Wow!!! And uphill, no less. You are fabulous! I just love those views. Those are columbines, right?

  8. Gee Djan - the difference in two weeks is superb with the blooms in full - just lovely colour. I was really impressed with the "Castle Rock" and your fellow hiker going off to get to the top of it. This is a very beautiful hike starting with your dense forests and into sunshine. I don't think I would like sitting on the edge and drop my camera - I am sure you appreciated a hand from your friend. Beautiful photos n some pretty sharp edges there on those rocks. WOW !

  9. Two things jumped out at me: The bright red color and that castle. That and the Mexican dinner would have made me very happy.

  10. I too was impressed with the castle formation.
    Fungi are always interesting with their color and shapes.
    A satisfying trip and glad your knees recovered over night. You do bounce back well.

  11. Wow, the differences between the years is just amazing.

  12. What a difference! It still looks steep and scary to me...but beautiful at the same time. Glad you made it down safely:)

  13. I love the close up shots you get! What bright mushrooms! I'm glad nobody ate them since nobody knew which kind they were! You scared me with the dropping of your camera...or was it your new phone. Anyways--whew! Glad you all got back safely. Looks awfully steep there.

  14. Castle Rock. Wow. Gave me the shivers to hear you had to hold hands to retrieve your camera. And 4000 ft.? Geez, DJan, you're a stud(ette). haha

  15. I feel like Alice sometimes on my hikes. With all the mushroom photos I take. But not this year. You found some winners though.

  16. What a complete difference in a year's time frame. But both treks...so beautiful in their own way. And of course your commentary to go along with it all makes it all the more fun.

    And castlerock!! Hmmmm, you living in Colorado at one time must remember the little town of Castle Rock?!!! Yes?!!

    Your castle on this hike tho, is much more defined in my opinion.

    Great post DJ!!


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