Labor Day weekend had a perfect weather forecast, so off we headed to do a 2-night backpack in the North Cascades. No permits required to overnight in this area (I think we called the ranger station about five times to inquire...haha).
The road is paved all the way to the traihead; perfect for tiny cars like mine.
We started from Rainy Pass and headed up counterclockwise on the Heather Maple loop. A quick detour took us to the shore of Lake Ann, and the trail as a whole was pretty gradual and well maintained up to the first junction where we took the side trail to the right for Lewis and Wing Lakes. The junction is just by a informative sign about delicate heather meadows, but is not marked.
Getting our first glimpse of Black Peak was inspiring and intimidating! Lots of "are we really going to climb that?", as we dropped down into the boulder field and wobbled our way across, following cairns and the occasional stretch of boothpath. The trail descended (rather steeply at times), with the turquoise of Lewis Lake coming into view.
The boulders thankfully ended as we crossed a stream and headed over a knoll to Lewis. It was a good lunch spot with lots of whistling marmots keeping us entertained, before we threw the packs back on and tackled the remaining uphill stretch between Lewis and Wing.
After almost two miles of huffing and puffing, we reached the shores of shimmering Wing Lake and found a primo spot to set up camp. We spent the evening wandering around the trails in the camping area and headed to bed just after sunset.
I got up to watch the amazing sunrise with the clouds billowing through the valley while my climbing buddy slept in. I woke her up when I got back and we had breakfast before hitting the trail up to Black Peak at 7.45 a.m.
The trail headed uphill from the lake and quickly turned into loose rock and scree. There was a first scree field that wasn't too terrible (not too steep) before we reached what was left of the snow. After crossing the snow without incident, we resumed travel on the scree...slowly picking our way up to the saddle with a good amount of swearing. It got steep up top and I didn't care to think about our descent, but we made it up to the saddle and enjoyed the panoramic views for a minute.
We followed the ridge, scrambling up and up and up, following the path on my Maps.ME app although we got a little off-track now and then. Eventually we cut a hard right towards the summit block. When we finally reached the summit block, we weren't sure if the trail went straight up the block and spent some time pondering until we saw another hiker appear from above and descend. We waited for him to safely pass before scrambling up to reach the top of the world. What a view!
We hung out for a bit before heading back down the way we came. Navigating the steep scree was a slow and tedious process for me, but we made it back down in one piece. My buddy actually managed to slip on the snowfield and whack her head, so I'm glad we were still wearing helmets!
We made it back to camp around 5 hours and 45 minutes after our departure, had lunch and packed up before moving camp down to Lewis Lake. We were both pretty tired so had an early night.
The next morning, we hiked back out to the trail junction before completing the rest of Heather Maple loop. Not gonna lie, my quads were feeling it and even though the trail was very moderate, I was definitely lagging and feeling all the elevation gain especially with a full pack. The trail was beautiful though, and we made it back out to our cars a bit before 1 pm, with a couple of stops to pick some blueberries.
This was a pretty great trip - I don't have much experience at all with Class 3+ scrambling but I had a blast and now have summit fever!