After missing Mt. Erie on our last trip to the Anacortes Community Forest Land, the boyfriendo and I were itching to go back. Due to his love for the charming city of La Conner, we decided to make a weekend of it, and crash there after hiking. The forecast said rain, so we again grabbed our maps (previously purchased at Mt. Erie grocery near the trailhead) and waterproof gear and hit the road.
We ‘cheated’ a little bit, and instead of parking at the Heart Lake trailhead we used previously, we climbed upward a bit and parked in a small designated shoulder that was actually just across the road from where we began ascending Sugarloaf.
While this did save us a bit of elevation gain, fear not, we still found a way to make our quads burn. As we began climbing upward, it became hard to tell what the weather was like outside of the canopy cover we had. The trail was certainly muddier than the previous time, and it sounded like it was raining, but there was no turning back for us. The path began an up-and-down roller coaster type jaunt surrounded by towering boulders, covered in moss from hundreds of years of rain and shade. When we finally got to the top, I was filled with awe and disappointment at the same time. The top has a few different viewpoints scattered in various directions–I wish we had gone to the west one first. After a peek at one outlook looming over the city of Anacortes (and the biggest boulder I think I’ve ever seen!), we headed to the big outcropping facing west, where on a clear day, one can see Whidbey Island and the breathtaking sound.
However, we did not have a clear day. It seemed like a cruel twist of fate that as soon as we stepped into the outcropping, the sky opened up into a harder rain than we had experienced all day, and buffeting winds brought the clouds all around us, obscuring the view (and nearly causing me to lose my hat).
We debated staying at the top until the winds died down in an attempt to still catch the view, but opted against that. Given the recent tragic death just the day prior caused by a tree falling in Meadowdale, we actually walked a bit on the road instead of the trail (I’m a bit of a scaredy-cat, but being cautious isn’t the worst thing in the world). The wind died down just as we reached a spot where the road and trail met, so we rejoined the path and headed towards Whistle Lake.
After hiking alongside Whistle Lake a few weeks ago, we decided circumnavigating it would be an excellent, mostly-flat way to add mileage onto the trip after Erie. Hikes in the Pacific Northwest can look completely different from season to season, but even seeing the trees and moss dripping with raindrops it felt different compared to the grey-but-dry trek before.
We passed by a serene outlook, perfect for relaxing with a view or curling up with a book, as well as a clear camping spot that looked big enough for a group. I’m not sure the rules for camping here (reservation? Limit of group size?), but the ACFL had a large sign indicating alcohol is not allowed in the forest. They did have garbage and recycling cans near this campsite, leaving campers no excuse to litter.
As we finished our loop around the lake and trudged to the car (limited by back and knee pain, respectively), we guessed that as our last trip here ended with rain as soon as we left, our luck this time would be the rain would stop as we departed–and we were right! While I didn’t mind the rain (I’ve gotten more soaked from walking to the mailbox) I still feel a little robbed of the view. However, Mt. Erie isn’t going anywhere–and with the snow in the passes not going anywhere either, I’ll be back.