The last weekend of September while I was in Brookings, huge fires exploded in the Napa Valley of California. Unfortunately the winds almost immediately carried their smoke north and blanketed Oregon and Washington the rest of that week. I was planning to head once again to my favorite part of the Northwest for fall colors, and almost canceled due to the smoke. However, it looked like there was a chance it might clear a bit, and weather was looking poor for the second weekend in October so I took a chance and drove the seven hours up to Mt Baker. Boy was I ever glad -- while the Baker area doesn't feature the incredible larches found elsewhere in North Cascades, it more than makes up for it with incredible slopes covered with blueberries and other colorful autumn leaves. The bit of smoke that remained made for some incredibly dreamy scenes without ruining the views. One of the three trails I hiked this weekend turned out to be perhaps my new single favorite spot anywhere in the North Cascades, a magical lake tucked under the soaring cliffs and glaciers of Mt. Shuksan.