Lake Serene is in a small basin at the foot of the three rocky peaks of Mount Index. It’s a 7.2 mile round trip hike and 2,000 feet of elevation gain, with most of the gain in the last 1.5 miles just before the lake. It’s a popular hike since it’s easily accessible from the Seattle area and the trailhead is barely a half mile off Highway 2, just a couple of miles before the hamlet of Index. It’s a beautiful place for a picnic and while the water is ice cold, it doesn’t prevent many of the hikers from plunging in. A hazy sky obscures some of the detail of the north facing peaks. The North Peak of Index is on the right skyline. I climbed the North Peak and bivouaced on the summit in 1968.
The United States is one of the most diverse countries on earth, jam packed full of amazing sights from St. Patrick's cathedral in New York to Mount Hollywood California.The Northeast region is where it all started. Thirteen British colonies fought the American Revolution from here and won their independence in the first successful colonial rebellion in history. Take a look at these rolling hills carpeted with foliage along the Hudson river here, north of New York City.The American south is known for its polite people and slow pace of life. Probably they move slowly because it's so hot. Southerners tend not to trust people from "up north" because they talk too fast. Here's a cemetery in Georgia where you can find graves of soldiers from the Civil War.The West Coast is sort of like another country that exists to make the east coast jealous. California is full of nothing but grizzly old miners digging for gold, a few gangster rappers, and then actors. That is to say, the West Coast functions as the imagination of the US, like a weird little brother who teases everybody then gets famous for making freaky art.The central part of the country is flat farmland all the way over to the Rocky Mountains. Up in the northwest corner you can find creative people in places like Portland and Seattle, along with awesome snowboarding and good beer. Text by Steve Smith.