"Nature's first green is gold,
Every autumn thousands of nature lovers make their pilgrimage to see the golden beauty of the turning larches at Ingalls Pass. This year is no exception. The trailhead carpark was already full when we arrived at 9:30am on a Monday morning. You can easily imagine the weekend crowds.
“Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower.”
To reach the pass, located roughly 3 miles away from the trailhead, we took the Ingalls Way Trail No. 1390 which weaves its way up through pine trees, alpine meadows and eventually some steeper and rocky terrain.
“Autumn carries more gold in its pocket than all the other seasons.”
The weather was perfect with clear blue skies and excellent visibility of Mt Rainier, Esmeralda Peaks and Mt Stuart. Roughly 20% of all the larches already changed color. Others will catch up in the next couple of weeks.
The golden larches and expansive views are not the only attractions that draw in the multitude of visitors year after year. Mountain goats are frequently seen here but we did not get to spot any this time around.
“Autumn... the year's last, loveliest smile.”
There is also a crystal clear, blue treasure which is nested at the foot of Ingalls and South Ingalls Peaks. Not surprisingly, its name is Lake Ingalls and you can reach it by hiking another 1.5 miles over the Ingalls Pass and around the Headlight Basin.
The trail forks at the pass. To the left, the Ingalls Way Trail meanders around and down the pass towards the lake. To the right, the Alternate Trail offers a steeper but more direct route to the lake.
“I am falling in love with autumn all over again.”
We chose to keep following the Ingalls Way Trail. Once we reached the lake, its spectacular sky-blue water was so inviting that we did not waste any time and quickly found a couple of nice rocks to sit on and submerged our feet for a cold refreshment.
“When I'm out and it’s autumn, my thank you's to the universe seem infinite.”
After 'lunching' on grapes, fresh vegetarian sushi rolls, and pistachios we started our journey back.
After making it down and through the super steep boulders we ended up taking the alternate route via the heart of the Headlight Basin.
“Autumn! The greatest show of all times!”
Hiking back across the basin turned out to be an additional treat. We were surrounded by green, soft, grassy meadows strewn with cascading streams sharing their song with us. The softening yet still quite warm sunrays were spilling through the trees like molten gold. We seemed not to notice how quickly we ascended the steep and rugged section back to the top of Ingalls Pass. Before heading down the other side of the pass, we celebrated the day with a boiling hot cup of black tea with cardamom and scotch butter fingers which tasted out of this world.
The golden larches are calling your name.
The next couple of weeks will be a perfect time to visit as more of the larches will turn golden. If you have not already, I encourage you to go and see them. You will not be disappointed.