Towards the end of October, Dona took part in the Alpine Artisan's "Tour of the Arts" and was showing her wood-turning and marquetry up in the Swan Valley at John Mercer's Swan Valley Images. John is a wonderful photographer; among other things, he has shot great panoramas that capture the beauty of the Swan Valley where he lives. I enjoyed the opportunity to look at more of his work. John and his wife Colleen Harrington were nice enough to let us spend the night so we didn't have to drive home and then back again.
I had spent some time staring at the map thinking about places to hike with Sid when he comes home on leave, and had thought about a several day hike to the back side of Swan Peak and then trying to climb it. That wasn't going to work out, but I figured if the weather was nice, or nice enough, I would go scout out the first part of the trail.
So after we got Dona set up I took off and drove up to Napa Ridge. The weather was supposed to be nice, but it was a day late. But it wasn't snowing or raining, so I headed up the trail. The larches were turning and I was hoping the weather would improve as the day went on.
|Swan Peak from the Napa Ridge Trail|
The trailhead is pretty high, so right away you break out to where you have a good view of both sides of the valley -- the Swan Range to the East and the Mission Mountains to the west.
The trail stays close to the top of a long ridge. There were a couple of great old snags along the way, and the shrubs were showing their fall colors. It would have been prettier with some sunshine, but it was nice for it at least not to be snowing.
|Swan Pk.||Swan Pk.|
|Avalanche Chute in Fall Colors||Avalanche Chute in Fall Colors|
The mountain ash berries were out, and for a while I was following black bear tracks in the snow.
|Mountain Ash||Black Bear Track|
After five miles or so I crossed over the divide and worked my way around a little to the back side where I could see down into Gorge Creek. Since I got a late start and had been dawdling along taking pictures and wanted to get back in time for dinner with Dona, I didn't get all down to the Sunburst Lake in the bottom of the valley. But I did get a good view of the "other side of the mountain."
|Gorge Creek Valley|
Aften I turned around and headed back, the weather started to improve a bit. The sun was getting low and you could see the clear weather coming for the following day. The evening light was great as I was hiking out, although there was still a lot of haze around the mountains.
|Hillside of Fall Colors||Swan Peak|
|Larches in a Logging Cut||Napa Ridge|
It looked like the next day was going to be perfect; I considered planning to head back up again. But I wanted to spend the day wandering around down in the valley, and decided it would have to wait.