After several days of rain, I had little hope that the weather would favor us last Saturday. But as we got out of the car at the Samish Overlook, the weather was stunning. The sun lit up Skagit Valley below and sparkled off of Samish Bay to the east. There wasn’t a cloud in the sky and, were it not for the slight chill in the air, I would’ve guessed it to be well into spring. It was going to be a great day.
The trail gets off to a relaxed start, which gave my office-bound legs a welcome chance to limber up. The clean air–earthy and fresh–and the coolness provided by the shade of the forest worked wonders on my mood.
There were lots of volunteers working the trail, so Brandon and Rachel (my friends and bloggers over at Beers at the Bottom) got some photos and quotes to use in a piece they’re writing for the Washington Trails Association. I ate a banana and got labeled as their porter.
The trail swiftly became steeper, and we began the grueling slog to the top of Oyster Dome. We were all extremely thankful we’d elected to start from the Overlook instead of the normal trail-head, saving us traversing a series of mind-numbing switchbacks. The climb to the top was enough. And the payoff… the payoff was as breathtaking as always.
There were more people at the top than I’d ever seen before, but we managed to find an empty outcropping of rock on the northwest corner of the Dome. With the Bat Caves a dizzying distance below us and the entire San Juan chain spreading to the horizon, we pulled out our lunches and ate.
We left the crowds basking in the sun and headed south into the forest, branching off inland towards our next destination: Lily Lake. The site of our ill-fated camping adventure a year and a half ago, the lake was placid and still; the rain from the previous visit was mercifully absent.
After falling into the lake while trying to take a picture–a sadly common occurrence for me–we headed back to the trail, branching off on Max’s Shortcut. Off the main trail, the crowds disappeared, and we hardly saw a soul for the rest of the hike. Beams of sunlight broke through the tree cover and curtains of hanging moss, lighting the way before us.
I’m trying to get in the habit of better tracking my hikes, seeing as I have an active data plan and all. Luckily, I remembered this time and tracked our route with Ramblr. Check out my Ramblr trip, which has detailed hike stats and a downloadable GPX file if you’d like to follow in our footsteps.