Fall Colors, Larches, Cathedral Peak and Amphitheater Mountain

The rain has set in and the days are short. Avoiding boredom necessitates a little creativity, which for me includes revisiting past hikes, editing images and trying to fashion a reasonable representation of a place.

The approach is from Tonasket, west to Loomis and then up the Toats Coulee Road to the Iron Gate Trail head.

The sky was blue and trees bright.
Iron Gate road trees em Iron Gate Trail Head Trees

The trip along the Boundary Trail (Doubling as the Pacific Northwest Trail) offer long vistas, green forests and in early October, brilliant orange larch.
Boundary Trail larch 1 em Boundary Trail

windy peak sky Windy Peak

The trail is a lot of fun, the old Tungsten Mine is an interesting place to explore, and Apex Pass provides sweeping views of Remmel Mountain and the east side the of Amphitheater Mountain.
Boundary Trail larch 3 em Remmel Mountain
The larch inhabit a band between 6,000 and 7,000 feet of elevation.
Boundary Trail larch 6 em Amphitheater Mountain

Arriving at Cathedral Pass its a short stroll down to water and reflective views!
Boundary Trail larch 302 em Cathedral Pass
Not a bad place to camp!
Boundary Trail larch 8 em Cathedral Peak

Boundary Trail larch 12 em Amphitheater Mountain, Reflected in a snow-melt pond

Heading down a little ways to Upper Cathedral Lake just before sunset provides all you need for a true orgy of picture taking!
Boundary Trail larch 28 m1

Boundary Trail larch 29 m1

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Back up at the camp site the setting sun made the trees look even more afire!
Boundary Trail larch 7 em

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The sensory overload was fun! Boundary Trail larch 5 em

Boundary Trail larch 18 em

The hike back provided more changes in colors…
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The trees along the road had a decidedly different look after only 4 days…
iron gate Road em


The Enchantments is an area with in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness, near Leavenworth, Washington.

Crammed into a small area there are myriad lakes, tarns and jagged peaks. One of the many allures of the Enchantments are the larches which turn bright orange and yellow in the fall. The juxtaposition of (hopefully) blue skies, green spruce, orange larch and as we encountered, white snow, is a wonder on the eyes!

To camp overnight requires a permit. To get a permit involves entering a lottery and hoping for good luck!

Earlier this year I decided to apply for the permits and was lucky enough to win a permit for October. However the weather at the start of October was horrific, high winds, a veritable deluge of rain and in the upper alpine zones, snow. By the time my allotted time came around things started to brighten up, and so, off I went.

enchatments 1em Parking area

enchatments 2em Foot Bridge at the start…

enchatments 3em Fall Colors on the way up

I managed to recruit two hardy souls to come along and we headed over Stevens Pass to Leavenworth and on up to the Snow Lakes Trail head. the first days hike was a little more than 10 miles and 4,000feet of elevation gain and we camped out on a sand bar along the shore of Upper Snow Lake.
enchatments 7em Upper Snow Lake
Day two brought partly sunny skies and we hoisted our heavy packs for the 4 mile hike up to Lake Viviane. The trail was steep in spots and there was much snow. The area around the lake was very windy, and it took some time to find a flat, sheltered place for the tent.
enchatments 20em Lake Viviane

enchatments 11em Lake Viviane

enchatments 19em Lake Viviane
The snow was as much as 2 to 3 feet deep in places. But so many people had traveled over the path that hiking was relatively easy.

At night I tried a few starry sky shots…
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The 3rd day we awoke early to more sun and clouds and headed further up, on towards the Upper Lakes.
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The mix of clouds, sky, larch and snow was perfect.
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Leprechaun Lake was especially photogenic!
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By late afternoon the skies looked decidedly dark and so we made our way back down to Upper Snow Lake and back to the car the next day…

I am definitely planning on entering the lottery again for the next years hiking season!

Maple Pass Loop, North Cascades

Escaping the inane demands related to income production is like fighting shadows. The barriers seem substantive until you shine some light towards them and call bullshit on the strangle hold they have, at which time you’re free.

Well… free for the afternoon anyway!

We arrived at the Rainy Pass parking area at 3:30. In 5 minutes we were on the trail heading up to Maple Pass. It was Thursday afternoon and there were few people on the trail, mostly on the downhill part of their hike.

It felt good to stretch the legs. And even better to be with out a big pack.

Driven by the urgency to catch the sunlight we flew up to Maple Pass. Pushing on towards the light just over the ridge.

Approaching the crest Lake Ann came into view with its distinctive foot shaped island, the meadows near her outlet stream aglow in the sun.

Lake Ann, North Cascades

The angle of the sun was now providing some illumination on the ridges to the east, the orange accent of larches highlighting the edges…

View from Maple Pass

North Cascades in the Evening Light

And we made it! The sun was now well above the horizon, igniting the fires of inspiration. All of the colors bright and vibrant, urgent and insistent, soothing and satisfying, the hair-line of perfection.

Textures appeared, foot prints on the dry trail…

Along the Ridge near Maple Pass

Maple Pass Loop Trail

Orange and yellow against the backdrop of blue…

Maple Pass Loop

Larch on the Maple Pass Loop Trail

We lolly-gagged along the ridge cooling off from the sprint upwards, warming up from the cool breezes, alternately staring at the beauty of the North Cascades, scurrying about looking for the best viewpoint /angle of light and basking in the glory of it all…

We made it to the highest point of the trail. the light was fast fading and so we headed down the switchbacks toward Rainy Lake and the car…

Switchbacks headed down from Maple Pass

Pausing here and there for more parting shots.

On the trail down from Maple Pass

Happy trails!

Maple Pass Panorama

Amphitheater Mountain and Cathedral Peak, Pasayten Wilderness, in the Fall

Amphitheater Mountain Showing Bands of Color

Some time ago I visited the eastern Pasayten Wilderness in early October to catch the larches turning bright orange. I got lucky and had great weather and caught the trees at the perfect time.

Amphitheater Mountain at Sunset

As you can see the larch inhabit a specific altitude and when they turn create a band of orange against the green of the other trees…

Amphitheater Mountain Bands of Color in Fall

Several of these images are panoramas, created by stitching several images together…

Amphitheater Mountain Fall Panorama

Amphitheater Mountain connects to Cathedral Peak at Cathedral Pass. The hike is approx. 30 miles from where you park the car…well worth the hike.

Cathedral Peak from Upper Cathedral Lake

Definitely on my list for this summer (and fall!)

Cathedral Peak Reflection

Amphitheater Mountain: Spring and Fall

Amphitheater Mountain is in the eastern part of the Pasayten Wilderness, in Washington State. The mountain is about 2 or 3 miles south of the Canadian border. I visited there twice this year, on July l5th and 16th and then returned on October 1st and 2nd. The two images below are composites of several images stitched together.