Heather-Maple Pass Loop

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Looking down on Lake Ann from Heather Pass

I had never seen the larches turn golden and I wanted to change that. I researched a bunch of hikes that were good for larches. There are many of them including, Lake Ingalls and Cutthroat Pass which were my runners up. I decided on Heather-Maple Pass Loop because it was a bit shorter than the other hikes. I have been fighting a cold and my ankle has been acting up so it was better for me to choose a less strenuous hike. I also heard this trail was a zoo during autumn with all the beautiful colors. So, I figured I would head there on a Monday morning to miss the weekend crowds. The parking lot was pretty full when I got there but nothing like I had heard about cars parked a mile down the road. I hiked this trail on Monday October 15th, 2018.

I took the trail going clockwise and proceeded on the detour to Rainy Lake first. It seemed like everyone was going counter-clockwise so I was happy I took the less popular route. Rainy Lake was like glass. A perfect reflection of a talus bowl. And I had it all to myself! It was beautiful. 

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Rainy Lake looking like a mirror

I walked back to the Maple Pass trailhead and proceeded up the steep incline for 3 miles. One thing I didn’t like about this trail was that you could hear the highway for a few miles up the trail. I prefer to feel like I’m far away from civilization when I go on a hike and the sound of cars kind of ruined that ambiance. I could definitely tell I was fighting a cold. I tired out very easily and ended up stopping for lunch before I made it to the top. But, I had a fantastic view of larches and the North Cascades. It was gorgeous.

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The view from my lunch spot

I passed many friendly people on the tail that day. While I was enjoying my lunch a woman asked if I wanted my picture taken. She said it was a great view and hiked back up the trail a ways to take an awesome photo of me soaking in the view. It was so kind of her! Of course I took a photo for her and her husband as well. Not to much farther up the trail there was a group of 2 women and a man, and one of the girls asked if I wanted a picture. Again, a kind stranger offered to take a photo of me! It was so nice! Usually when I solo hike I either take a (terrible) selfie or set the camera up on a rock with a timer on. Or I’ll ask someone if they don’t mind taking my picture. But, this hike was the first time I had multiple people come up to me and offer to take a photo. When I got to the top there was a woman hiking solo taking pictures and I wanted to pay it forward so I asked her if she wanted a photo. I took a few shots and then she offered to take some of me. I want to remember how that simple act of kindness made my day, and I hope that I can do that for more people as well. 

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A kind stranger took this photo of me enjoying the view

The larches were spectacular! It was so fun to see all the yellow trees! The views of the craggily mountains combined with bright yellow larches and crystal clear lakes was stunning. It was a wonderful sunny day on the trail. 

What are your favorite hikes to see larches in the Pacific Northwest? Let me know in the comments below!

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