Heather-Maple Pass Loop is a trail that has been on my Hike List for at least two years. Every time someone posts a trip report for it on the Washington Trails website there are absurdly gorgeous, jaw dropping photos attached. The only excuse I have, and it's a paltry one by any adventurer's standards, is that its a 3 hour drive from my front door.
Despite missing out for way too long on this glorious bounty of mountain passes and ridgelines galore, I actually do enjoy long drives-especially when I leave at dawn to beat the crowds and traffic, which I did this time. I think back a couple years to when my fucked up back injury was still ruling my every day life, making activities like this feel permanently impossible. I couldn't stand to be stuck in the same position in a car for an hour, let alone be active after.... I can't believe how lucky and blessed I am to be on the other side of all those harrowing and utterly depressing feelings. I am so damn thankful.
Heather-Maple Loop can be done counter clockwise or clockwise, with both options sharing the Rainy Lake trailhead. Besides being able to pick and chose your starting side for the pass, offshoot trails break away throughout, allowing you to hit up Rainy Lake, Rainy Pass, and the lake bed of Lake Ann.
I had so much fun hiking this loop. I was a bit nervous after my last hiking trip in the Enchantments, where I was just feeling out of shape and unable to maximize my trail time. I felt way more capable this go around which was fantastic and super reassuring.
I'm getting back into my groove again with hiking and thus all other things. Feeling simultaneously more motivated and yet more at peace. Genuinely appreciative of what I have right here, right now. Still seeking and analyzing and daydreaming... yet finding that with practice and heightened awareness I am able to cultivate a NowNowNow mentality that lasts longer than it ever used to. Becoming sober over the last couple of months has been a powerful addition to my personal quest and is contributing to my perspective shift. I feel like I am undressing layers of learned ideas about myself and the world, peeling back personality and habituation, slowly revealing my sheltered core self: unique and beautiful yet very interconnected. I'm dusting off what I thought I knew and ushering in an unforced, updated idea of living without limits. I'm feeling very little fear. I feel...sincerely, supremely good.
"How wild it was, to let it be." -Cheryl Strayed
A few of the other epic and infamous trails that remain untouched from my list are: Chain Lakes Loop, Cape Alava on the Olympic Peninsula, Lake Blanca, and Ingalls Lake. Help me out, hold me accountable, and demand documentation from these soon!!
|First sight of Lake Ann|
|Sub Alpine Meadow as the climb continues|
|Outstanding views of the surrounding Cascade peaks|
Oh and saw my first marmot! No pictures of that little dude though.
|Looking back on the trail traveled so far|
|Rounding the ridgeline counter clockwise above Lake Ann|
|Hard to beat this trail...|