Yesterday felt like a genuine fall hike. Was it really only a few days ago that we were basking in the sun at Mount Rainier?
Since the weather was "iffy" we thought the Teanaway would be a better place to hike than on the west side of the pass.
Long's Pass sounded good - I hadn't been there for several years and even dared hope there might be a little bit of gold in those larch trees around Lake Ann.
We started out on the Esmeralda Basin trail, then took the County Line trail to a saddle above Lake Ann (the hike round trip is about 6-6-1/2 miles with about 2,100 feet of elevation gain. Older hiking guides suggest that some sections of the County Line trail are hard to follow but the junction for the County Line trail is signed; pretty hard to miss. We were on trail (a little indistinct but not hard to follow) until the saddle above the little lake. There we were a little disappointed to see that the larches were still green (though hardly surprised - we knew we were a little early).
It had rained the night before and the vegetation was wet along the trail - the blueberry shrubs have turned crimson and the meadows golden and shaggy. There are still quite a few flowers in bloom including scarlet gilia, Indian Paintbrush, harebells, pearly everlasting and asters.
As we lunched at the saddle I pointed out Fortune Peak to my companion and pointed out the scramble route to South Ingalls (if you can follow the scramble trail to South Ingalls you can hike out on the Lake Ingalls trail for a nice loop). However, I recall there's quite a bit of elevation gain and it makes for a long day. But fun! We considered that but with a late start and impending rain we ended up turning around instead.
Sure enough, almost as soon as we turned around it began to rain and rather hard. As we raced down the trail the rain was driven by wind until we were out of the open areas and into the protection of trees.
With the new rain the whole place was jumping with color! It was absolutely gorgeous!! No complaints at all except I don't think summer lasts long enough.