The Larches of Lillian
Well if the weather is bad in the western Cascades head east. If it is still bad then head further east. Orginally Zephyr and I were going to do Fortune Peak in the Teanaway Region. We really wanted to get some great shots from Headlight Basin over to Mount Stuart. The alpine larches are out in full and give off some of the greatest color around. But when we hit the trailhead we took one step outside and both of us knew that it wasn't going to happen. The last thing I wanted to due was end up in the Hospital like what happened to me on Avalanche Peak. So it was time execute Plan B- time to find a shorter hike in a less rainy spot. Answer head east of Blewett Pass. Of we left taking some fall shots along the way.
Once we hit Blewett Pass it was clear why we were meant for this place. The last time I was in this area back in early September I noticed that this area was loaded with Western larches. The species is different from the Alpine Larch but when the trees change they can feature the same beautiful color that the alpine larches have. Their peak time is usually in Mid to Late October whereas the Alpinne larch is in late September to mid October. We caught the Western Larch in near paek conditions. Though the road up was a little iffy at times, the larches here near peak lower elevation and pretty much peak higher up. They will probably hold for another week or two here.
We were stopped about a mile and a half short of the Lillian Trailhead by a large puddle and decided to park by a campsite. The last thing we wanted was to be stuck in a mud puddle miles from any civilization around us and hope that there is someone who can pull us out of there. From there we decided to walk the distance to the trailhead. The weather was slightly misty at first but cleared up leaving only high clouds the rest of the trip.
Soon we were on the trail heading up to Mount Lillian. This trail was easy in difficulty all the way to the summit area. On the way up we saw tons of well changed western larches and were soon forgetting about what we missed with Fortune Peak. We checked a nice ledge just before the summit where we enjoyed a nice shot towards Leavenworth and Wenatchee.
Once on the summit area we picked up a bootpath that traveled over the true summit and right to a large boulder. The scramble up the boulder had a number of areas that were somewhat doable but risky with the rock being wet. We attempted to scramble it but realized quickly that we were going to have some seriously exposed moves so we decided to pass this time and enjoy the terrific views on the western side of Lillian. It was a beautiful viewing area and well worth being there.
From there we made the 3/4 mile bushwhack to the summit of Mount Lillian South. At first there was a nice bootpath going in that direction. We took it until the bootpath decided to head back to th main trail. At that point we went off trail and navigeted ourselves to Mount Lillian South. The terrain was not the greatest and there were a ton of fallen trees along the way but soon we hit the open summit of Mount Lillian where we enjoyed a number of great views.
Coming down Mount Lillian South we decided to go down the southern open slopes of Mount Lillian South where more awesome shots were opening up, this time of the Enchantments. This area really lights up in Mid-October when the western larches are in peak and views on the south ridge were some of the top views of the day.
Soon we were back on the road below and walking back to the car. The larch covered road was good eye candy as we took our time heading back to the car. There were some especially large larch trees on the way back. I never knew larches could be so large! Along the way we were just admiring the awesome larches on the way back to the car. Once back at the car we headed back down the road which traverses the side of at scree field and got a great shot of a now clear Enchantments.
I'd like to thank Zephyr again for coming on this trip and making the correct moved quickly to change plans. We had great views by Blewett Pass, tagged some peaks, viewed some great larches and most of all had an awesome, safe and fun trip.