Oyster Dome ~ Lily Lake

Pacific Northwest Trail

JANUARY 8, 2011  As it turned out, a friend and I both planned to hike this trail on the same day, and when her hiking partner cancelled, we decided to hike it together.  The weather forecast called for a 70% chance of precipitation, and as we drove north through the convergence zone, it promised to be a very wet day for a hike.  But we as we neared Mount Vernon, we could see the edge of the storm system, and sunshine lit up Blanchard Mountain in the distance.  We had sunshine and clouds, fog and more clouds on this day, but only a trace of precipitation in the form of a barely noticeable snowfall on the final leg of our hike.  

My friend had not hiked here before, but it is one of my favorite winter hikes and I found the trail to be as steep, muddy, and beautiful as it had on my previous hikes here.  We hiked first to Oyster Dome, where clouds were the main attraction.  They drifted across the scenery and hid and revealed the landscape by turns.  Up to this point we had had the trail mostly to ourselves, but as we were finishing our lunch, several groups of people started appearing and Oyster Dome became quite crowded.   No matter--next on our agenda was the often overlooked Lily Lake.  The lake was partially frozen and partially fogged in.  We were delighted by the patterns and texture in the ice and took a long break at the horse camp before heading out to complete the loop hike.

The junction with Max's Shortcut trail escaped me once again, so we hiked the longer loop trail to the Samish Overlook.  The woods were lovely and shrouded in fog, and my friend's dog became alert and focused intently into the woods in one area.  A black lab/rotweiller mix, she came to a near perfect point, but although we looked closely, we didn't see what she sensed was in the woods.  At the Samish Overlook, my friend looked at me accusingly when she realized that we could have driven up the mountain and saved ourselves most of the elevation gain of the hike.  A group of people were gathered here for paragliding, and we watched a failed attempt to launch before we started on the final leg of our hike out.  The sun was low on the horizon as we reached the last overlook, but we returned to the trailhead before dark. 

Approximately 9 miles

Approximately 2150' gain