Sunday, September 14, 2014

Cutthroat Pass

Had a great day Saturday checking out Cutthroat Pass on Saturday with friend Rich.  Fall is just beginning to show signs at the higher altitudes, with some berry bushes turning red and a few larches just starting to show their fall gold.  We had an outstanding day, with 80 degree weather and clear blue skies.

Rich ran the Enchantments the day before, and then met up with me at Rainy Pass off Highway 20 early Saturday morning.  There, we met Pacific Crest Trail hiker "Trek", trying to hitch a ride to Mazama.  We weren't in a hurry to start, and so we gave him the lift, went for coffee, and bought some very tasty sandwiches for later on at the Mazama Store.  We ran into many other PCT hikers during the day, happy to be near the end. I always marvel at that effort.

We hiked the same route that is the Cutthroat Classic run.  Since I always run this route, it was nice to   spend more time exploring, especially at the top of the pass.

There are a number of side trails up there, for camping and for climbing routes.  We climbed above both sides of the Pass, including a relatively easy scramble to a notch at about 7100 feet, which gave us sweeping views of the PCT going north, Tower Mountain, and the dry country of the Pasayten.

In all, we spent at least an hour and a half exploring the Pass.  The quiet air and steady breeze has a way of pushing the cares of the week aside.

We jogged down the backside, which is about 5.5 miles. A short stop at Cutthroat Lake--a pleasant lake with a large amount of eelgrass (or something akin) growing bright green on one side.

I saw a bluebird on the way down. Bluebirds are mostly on the east side of the Cascades, and while I haven't tried too hard, I haven't seen one in a few years. Made me smile.

There were plenty of small patches of red at or around 7000 feet. It looks like in two weeks or so the autumn colors will be in full force in the North Cascades.

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