Saturday, March 14, 2015

10 hr Swan Falls Loop

One of the views from Eagle Ridge

Last week we hit St Marks Summit again, but unfortunately this we were hit with crowds everywhere (our previous hikes up here had very little people)! So this weekend our goal was an uncrowded hike with breathtaking views. We decided to try a new hike that starts at Buntzen Lake -Eagle Ridge or Swan Falls Loop/Lindsay Lake Loop.
Having a hiking dog really keeps you outdoors
She always stays really close when we are on trails
Buntzen Lake from the North Beach
We went up (2) and down (1)
We got to the parking lot super early (8am for us) as we knew we would be fighting sunset times if we took breaks. Surprisingly, a large amount of people also start hiking at 8am on a Saturday morning in March so it was busy for the first section around Lake Buntzen. We knew most people would be doing the Diez Vista hike (a nice one, but we were going higher!) or trail around Buntzen Lake. By the way, I've never seen so many warnings around dogs (where to go, where not to go), as well as warnings about hiking in general. I can understand when Buntzen lake is very busy that dogs should be kept to the dog-beach (there were summer days when the lake was "full" and you get turned around) but everyone we saw had their dogs off-leash in this non-busy season

The trail around the lake is very flat and easy
A crazy amount of warnings awaits us.

The first section from south to north beach
early morning at the lake
Pose? ok I'll pose
artifacts people have found and placed for other to see
evidence of logging in the past
At the turn off to the Halvor Lunden- Eagle Ridge Trail, we were finally alone and looking up a very very high mountain (are we really doing this?). The climb is neither difficult nor technical, just long and the markers are pretty easy to follow though there are some sections where you must climb over a fallen log. It should take 2-4 hours for the 3km, 1150m altitude climb and this is by far the longest section. Please be careful if there is bad weather as it seems there lots of people that need to be rescued here.
the turn off for the higher trails with lots of warnings
investigating
Up up up we go
The trails were easier than we thought
A couple optional rope sections
waiting for our group to catch up
it feels like we've been doing this awhile now!
snack time
starting to see some peeps
Fantastic trails here
We met no one on the way up
a cat-nap while we wait for the group
oh we are so close!
we pass a couple frozen ponds
very little snow this year, sometimes it looks like this in July
I can almost taste my upcoming sandwich...

the last hump, you see the peak there?

The peak is beautiful and a great place to eat, rest up, and soak in the sun. After an easy cruise along the ridges' high forests, you have a choice between a walk around some lakes, or a panoramic view-point walk. We were advised by a friendly forestry hiker we met that the viewpoint walk was a little longer, but nicer compared to the muddier lake walk so we took in the views.

Mt Baker on this clear day
on top of Mt Beautiful
heading through the ridge
my dog glows!
sometimes we would get lost if we just followed Whiskey

what an amazing day

more panoramic views
You can see downtown,Richmond, the Island, etc
Whiskey always runs ahead to the cliff and looks down

I sort of think she appreciates the view too!

By the time we started the decent, the sun was sinking lower and we picked up our feet so we could get back to the car before they shut the gates at 6pm (gate times are posted as you enter). The decent down the south park is less steep and easier on the knees. The hike took us a total of 10 hours at a pretty leisurely pace.
until next time!

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