Hike to Rainy Lake/Maple Pass

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We started the morning fishing from our campground in the Skagit River.  I dressed to the 9s in my hip waders and fishing vest.  We knew there were both trout and salmon in the lake.  We were ready for the trout, but when we heard there were 65 pound salmon in the lake, we didn’t quite know what to do as they would have snapped our poles right in half had we actually hooked one.  The bank was really shallow on our side of the river and though we waded in quite a ways, we still couldn’t reach the deeper and faster part of the river where the fish actually are.  We made our best efforts for about an hour and finally gave up without a single nibble.  As awesome as it would be to bring home a 65 pound salmon, I think we were both a little nervous of what we were going to do if we actually had to reel one in.

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Our main activity for the day was a hike just outside the national park, which means Molly got to come!  The trailhead was an hour and a half drive through the National Park (so we got a picture with the sign) and we got a late start after fishing, so it was already after lunch when we got started.  I knew the area we were supposed to be in, but the hike wasn’t actually marked and we hadn’t seen a trail map.  Turns out the trails are not marked as well in the national forest as they are in the park, so we had to keep asking a few other hikers on the trail to confirm we were where I thought we were.  Maple Pass was a 7.5mi loop, and had 2000 ft elevation gain.  Another hiker in the parking lot had warned us that it was hot and there were lots of bugs so we sunscreened, sprayed bug spray and headed out.  The first several miles were reasonable, though always uphill, switchbacks though wildflower fields. The last mile was pretty steep and gave us a bit of a workout. In the distance, there were mountains surrounding us in all directions.  Actually, we kept remarking that this area reminded us of Colorado.  The hike started at 5000 feet so there weren’t any berry bushes to distract me.  We did learn from a national forest service worker that they were doing a restoration project and had recently planted 3500 heather plants near the summit.  One hill in particularly felt exactly like The Sound of Music, mountains in the background, green hilly field dotted with wildflowers, I just wanted to throw my arms in the air, and spin around singing.  Which I basically did without the spinning part.  At the top, we sat on a rock to enjoy the 360 mountain views and got eaten alive by mosquitos.  We doused again with Repel Lemon Oil Eucalyptus bug spray.  It does work well, but I can tell you exactly what parts of me didn’t get sprayed.  Luckily the mosquitos don’t bother Molly. Maybe they land on her fuzzy fur and can’t actually get to her skin, but either way, she finished the hike with tail wagging, though you can bet she slept the whole way home.  After 15 hiking miles in 2 days, we were tired and looking forward to a good night’s sleep.  We were all sleeping very hard  when a loud siren start whooping throughout the campground in the middle of the night (which is what we call 6am).  Turns out the siren is how the town calls the volunteer firefighters when there is a fire or other emergency.  Seems like they ought to post that somewhere at the campground so you have a warning of what the siren means when it goes off. Needless to say, our day started early. 🙁

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