Monday, August 25, 2014

Almost Heaven



Over the years we’ve been on several hikes where I say this was the best hike I’ve ever done. That very thing happened again on Saturday when Suzanne told me she was thinking of driving 38 miles to do the Maple Pass trail, a 7 mile loop with 2,100 feet of elevation gain. She didn’t actually invite me to come along, and I know she enjoys hiking alone, but I went back and googled Maple Pass Loop. The trail description had me from the first sentence: “The Maple Pass Loop is one of the jewels of the North Cascades.”

How could I pass this up? Jim gave me the go-ahead, so I hurried back to Suzanne’s and asked in a pleading voice if she would mind some company. So we packed a lunch, filled our water bladders, and hit the road.

The drive alone is worth taking, passing by emerald lakes, roadside waterfalls, and climbing from 500’ to nearly 5,000’ by the time we reached the trailhead.

We started with a gradual climb through the forest, then what seemed like a short time later began to see wildflowers and mountain views that nearly took our breath away. Well, that may have been more due to the elevation, having been near sea level for months, but we kept stopping for photos and I knew it was going to take us awhile to complete the entire seven miles.




A fellow hiker stopped and asked if this was our first time on the trail, to which we responded yes. He told us it would get even better as we continued on up, but we couldn’t help stopping to take more photos every few steps. At the turn off for Lake Ann, we continued up the main trail, opting to see it from on high.


In fact we followed the entire ridge around the lake, eventually looking down at it from 1,000 feet above.



Suzanne taking a rest break.


And taking more pictures with her new camera.


It was a tough hike up to Maple Pass, but then beyond that was an even steeper climb for another 3/4 mile. We were both seeing stars at times, probably not a good thing, but we made it to the payoff.

The trail is much steeper than it looks, trust me.


Made it to snow level.



Another alpine lake.


Suzanne at the edge of the world. It really did feel that way.


It was all downhill from there. We were glad we did the trail counterclockwise as it would have been even harder coming up this way.




The final mile and a half descent through the forest had us imagining bigfoot, bears, owls, and getting scared half to death by a chipmunk, as it was starting to get a little dark in those woods. Best hike I’ve ever done, for sure! So glad Suzanne was there to share it with me.


  1. Reminds me of the hikes we used to take on Mt. Rainier behind Paradise Lodge. Gorgeous!

    1. We missed Mt. Rainier this summer but definitely want to go there another time.

  2. Sheesh, another ridiculously overrated hike because of overrated scenery. When will you learn that "postcard" hikes miss the point??? A Sappy, Sugar coated series of Pics on a Stick post. Yuck.
    Sorry, I was just saying what Pal Boonie was thinking :))
    Nice to see that Fireweed coming up. It's blooming here too. And congrats on shaking off your sea level legs.

    1. You did a great imitation:-)
      Perhaps it was the endorphins speaking, or the truly breathtaking scenery, or the camaraderie of a fellow hiking enthusiast, but I just had to share those "postcards".

  3. takes my breath away all over again! You know I have been waiting for this post! ;-)

    AND you also know the ONLY reason I didn't ask to start with is because I knew you would be bored hiking with someone at my speed. I had to laugh at the picture, "Suzanne taking a rest break." When was Suzanne NOT taking a break! haha!! But having you there to share it with made the experience that much more rewarding.

    Thanks for having the patience to put up with a slow-poke like me, when I know you could have done that loop twice in the time it took. A hike and a day I hope I never forget...that's why I need postcards. ;-)

    1. I agree! Not only do I have the postcards but my legs are still feeling the effects, so it's hard to stop thinking about it:-)

  4. Definitely "take your breath away" gorgeous. our pictures are incredible and I am sure it was even more impressive in person.

  5. Oh my that looks like a fabulous hike! We gotta make it to the North Cascades some day!

  6. Absolutely stunning. I am surprised that you didn't just break out in song No wonder they call the North Cascades the American Alps. Just breathtaking!!

  7. I know the photos don't do the area justice, but they are beautiful.

  8. I can see why it is so highly rated and why you and Suzanne loved it - it is uniquely beautiful. I'm glad you stopped for lots of pics. Thanks for sharing a great day in the mountains :-).

  9. With that title I thought you had flown to West Virginia. A gorgeous hike for sure and one I'll only see through your pictures. Congratulations on a great find.

  10. I am amazed at how beautiful the wildflowers are this time of year. Our trails are just covered in gorgeous color. But don't worry they won't make the blog:( It seems the writer of the blog (my husband) doesn't share my love of the bloom. People who know him always comment when a flower photo appears. Many of your photos look like what we just saw in Glacier. You are right about the steepness not coming out in the photos. It is hard to impress on someone just what a climb of 2100' is. Sure looked like a wonderful day:)

  11. Stunning!!! Definite add to our hiking to do list. Amazing photos