Sunday, October 17, 2010

Easy Pass Fall 2010

Sipping on coffee, reflecting on a nice day in the North Cascades yesterday. Friends Kevin, Linda, Jamie and I ran the Easy Pass to Colonial Creek route, a 25 mile, three valley adventure through the heart of the park. I’ve blogged about this exact route before, as this is my third time doing it in the past year or so, and so I’ll keep this short. But initially, I’ll just say—there is good cause to return here, again and again.

Saturday was a cold one. We had snow on the ground, all the way up the 3.5 miles to Easy Pass, and we were chilled, hiking in the shadows of the peaks. Last year was colder, but it never really warmed up this year, as it eventually did last year.

On top of Easy Pass, the larches are golden, beautiful against a deep blue sky. It looked to me like peak was a week ago, but there was plenty of gold hanging from their gnarled, winter-tested limbs. The huckleberries too were red, probably having also peaked a week ago. Frosted ferns, mountains dusted with snow. The land is getting ready for winter. At the lower elevations, the forest floor was carpeted with deep green moss, the trail cutting a soft, magical line through this sea of green, alongside old growth cedars and the clear Fischer and Thunder Creeks. Fairy tale land--Hansel and Gretel came up.

October is mushroom season in the northwest, and so we spent a lot of time spotting different types of gilled mushrooms, coral fungi, conch shells on conifers, log jellies, and spine fungi. Frankly, this was my chief interest in going here this weekend. I actually sampled three different types, all of which were interesting. I didn’t eat a ton, as I didn’t want to be the trail runner who died of mushroom poisoning. But I was pretty pleased in my confidence level at identifying a few edibles. Most of the color spectrum was represented.

I didn’t really run that great. The cold made it hard to loosen up, and I puttered a lot, looking at mountains, glaciers, fungi, and brush. Still, 25 or so miles. Running down—and there’s a ton of down on this run—tests my back a bit more than flats or ups. I was really stiff at the end. Speed wasn't a problem—we got done with plenty of light, and it was just a great day in the high backcountry. By evening, I was watching the Huskies beat the Beavers, with a pizza.

More Easy Pass-Colonial Creek photos here.

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