North Cascades Highway

Blue Lake and Golden Larches

Fall is coming to a close and without much fanfare. The only good fall color this year has been up high and and on the east side of the Cascades. I’ve wanted to check out the larch fall colors since my premature visit two years ago to Maple Pass. I got a bit more excited when I learned that weather forecasts were calling for the first low snow levels of the season. I hoped I could combine the yellow larches, the blue of Blue Lake, and the white of fresh snow.

Off I went to the Blue Lake trailhead near Washington Pass. Skies were clearing and the air was quite crisp. I had hoped that there might be 1-2” of fresh snow but what greeted me was nothing more than a barely a trace at the trailhead. Up higher, the amount was still little more than a trace but more widespread. Most larches still had needles but were past prime color and even starting to shed needles.

Larches along the trail to Blue Lake - North Cascades Highway
There’s a small creek near the turnoff for the climbers path up to Liberty Bell & Early Winter Spires and luckily it had some small drops & ice formations to take advantage of:

Small creek and Early Winters Spires - North Cascades Highway
After my brief stop, I hiked the remaining half mile or so to Blue Lake. This stretch of trail is now somewhat sketchy since the water on the trail has frozen and probably won’t thaw out before winter finally arrives. It’s a short stretch so in little time I arrived at Blue Lake. After crossing the outlet, way trails scatter in every direction. I followed the shoreline for a while before deciding to gain the crest of a small cliff for a higher vantage.

Blue Lake Panorama
Small tarn near Blue Lake - North Cascades Highway
Snag and fall color around Blue Lake - North Cascades Highway
Snag near Blue Lake - North Cascades Highway
The wind kicked up a bit and clouds began to drift over the surrounding ridges. Tucked away just west of Blue Lake are a couple small tarns. Scenic in their own right but I had difficulty getting some nice compositions. Before I ended my day at the lake I made my way down to the shoreline to do some exploring:

Larches growing in talus slopes along Blue Lake - North Cascades Highway
Early Winters Spires - North Cascades Highway
Blue Lake snow reflections - North Cascades Highway
I didn’t see a single person until I started my hike out which was pretty nice, especially for a popular location such as this. As I drove home, I did quickly stop off at one location along the North Cascades Highway which had a nice display of fall color. This was somewhat of an oddity since most of the fall color I observed were solitary trees scattered throughout the forest.

Fall color along Granite Creek - North Cascades Highway

Spring Day on the North Cascades Highway

Other commitments and priorities have continued to sideline me from more regular updates but I’m looking forward to more regular updates starting with this one..

Friday brought sunshine and highs in the low 50s so I decided to take advantage of it in advance of a more traditional rainy winter weekend. I decided to head out the North Cascades Highway in hopes of photos and Bald Eagles. I only saw 2 or 3 eagles but the views are always stellar along the highway…
Skagit River and Eldorado Mountain from Milepost 100
Some views from the Diablo Lake overlook:

Diablo Lake
Mount Rose
Diablo Lake Island
The most interesting things were the icicles found in the sheltered areas alongside the highway..

Snowmelt Icicles
Snowmelt Icicles
Ice Bouquet
Interesting contrast between the ice and moss on the rocks..

Moss and Ice
Moss and Ice

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