Regarded as one of the gems of the North Cascades for its epical grandeur and beauty, the Maple Pass Loop does not fail to satisfy.
We chose to hike it clockwise and started from the Rainy Lake end of the trail. This way is considered more strenuous than its counter-clockwise alternative, as it climbs steeply gaining over 1700 feet in the first couple of miles, but we wanted to tackle the elevation gain when we were still fresh, and avoid the slick roots and rocks on the way down.
The panoramic views of the surrounding peaks from this nearly 7000-foot ridge were spectacular. We stopped for a lunch break at Maple Pass, where a sudden and dramatic change in the weather greeted us with a hail shower. Within minutes we were cold enough to put on our rain gear including any additional layers and start heading down towards Lake Ann. The cool thing about the experience was not just the falling hail, but the fact that all the people we met along the way had a smile on their faces and seemed really happy despite of the wet and Fall like conditions.
We celebrated this wonderful day with a warm and hearty meal at the Marblemount Diner.
"Wow! We're not in the San Joanquin Valley any more, Lidia. This place is absolutely breathtakingly beautiful, and I mean breathtaking. It's a steep climb from 4800 ft. up to 7000 ft going clock wise, but one of the most beautiful places I've been."