Here we are again, dumping a load of blog posts that are seriously past due (and we have a bunch more to type up that are also seriously past due). It seems we prefer to be volunteering, playing, exploring and even doing household chores to blogging but we eventually get there. The latest batch is from last summer. We’ve included links so you can jump to them easily.
Excelsior Pass can be reached by Excelsior Trail (which has your feet carrying you up the entire elevation between Highway 542 and the pass) or via the Damfino Lakes Trail (where your car carries you up a good bit of the elevation BUT it isn’t a good road). We chose the easy(ish) way and bounced our way up 8 miles of ragged road in the Subaru. We hiked up past Damfino Lakes to Excelsior Pass then headed left on a bit of the High Divide trail to a spur that took us right up to the top of Excelsior Peak. John now has a new favorite view! Even with clouds hanging on the mountains like fluffy white bicycle helmets the views were stunning. Check our pictures and see if you agree.
Those red bushes covering the ground? Blueberries. Yum, yum and yum. John had to keep stopping to find Holly. She was picking blueberries! Sadly none made the trip back to the car. They were picked and consumed in minutes. A few here, a few there… Continue reading →
Holly got hit with one of her evil headaches so John finally got to hike solo and loved it. Hiking together is fine and we get along well with few issues. John is the stronger hiker and often has to wait for Holly. He is patient and helps when needed with nary a complaint. Holly has suggested he hike on his own and offered to help him find a different hiking buddy for some of the tougher hikes but he repeatedly refused. Holly’s evil headache can be considered a bit fortuitous. We were shifting our home camp down river in a day so John either hiked alone or missed out on getting up close and personal to a glacier. He REALLY wanted to hike to that glacier so he finally agreed and took off on his own. It was a well-traveled out and back trail so his dismal sense of direction wasn’t an issue. It was a beautiful day. He wound his way up the mountain and hit the trail early to beat the crowds. He came home seriously happy. Continue reading →
Once we left the North Cascades National Park we headed up on Mt Baker Highway and found a Sno-Park parking lot to dry camp in since the National Forest campgrounds had closed the week before. We could have taken the rig up the mountain but it was getting cold at night so lower elevation was better. We were in the area for ten days (6 at the Sno-Park and 3 at beautiful Silver Lake County Park.) We hiked a lot but there is so much more that is on our list. Continue reading →
This is one of the premier hikes in the North Cascades due to beautiful scenery all along the trail and the astounding views at the top. A bonus is that you cross into North Cascades National Park. Few people do this as you have to hike miles to reach the park boundary or take Cascade River Road into the park. The National Park is 99.9% wilderness so Cascade River Road is the ONLY road that goes into the park itself. Most visitors stay on Highway 20 which is in the Ross Lake National Recreation Area and thus never enter the National Park.
Lake Ann in Glacial Valley
This was definitely one of Holly’s favorite hikes this season. This trail was incredibly crowded and Holly hikes uphill very slowly so John found it a bit frustrating. We were constantly stepping off trail and putting on our masks to let people pass (Covid). Continue reading →
Sauk Mountain is in the Mount Baker/Snoqualmie National Forest which is on the western flank of North Cascades National Park. We heard this was an awesome trail and added it to our hike list. This trail is still on our list. We hiked it, but we couldn’t see it.
We knew the cloud cover was going to be heavy in the morning so we skipped our normal early hike start time and headed into the town of Concrete for a nice breakfast first. Then we headed up Sauk Mountain Road. This is a mostly decent gravel road that switchbacks up the mountain so that your car does most of the climbing for you. The only bad spot for us was the last curve before the parking lot. With the overnight rain and mist, the road was wet and our all-wheel drive Subaru had problems with a couple of monster pot holes. We should have turned off the traction control system. If you have that on your car, make sure you know where the button is to turn it off for situations like this. It is better to have a few tires gripping the road instead of all four locking up as you slide back down the mountain. We did finally make it all the way up. A friend went up later in a van and parked on the gravel pull-off just before the bad spot and hiked up the last bit so you don’t need a four-wheel drive vehicle to do this hike.
Awesome hike! This is one of the premier hikes in the North Cascades and the ENTIRE hike is in the National Park. This was John’s favorite hike right up until we went Mt. Baker Highway and he fell in love with other hikes.
The road didn’t melt out until July so we hit the trail just three days after they opened the gate to let us drive up the rest of the way to the parking lot. And what a parking lot it is! We frequently sent visitors to the parking lot even if they weren’t planning to hike. You have a huge glacial valley sweeping out away from you, snow covered peaks, glaciers, waterfalls, wildflowers and thick trees.
The call we waited for finally came. We were going to the North Cascades National Park!
We left our temporary home on Whidbey Island on the morning of May 22nd. When we got to Newhalem, we met our supervisor, Katie Wood, at the volunteer campground. There were five sites to choose from and the one we selected was next to the building housing the laundry and bathroom. We have a really nice picnic table. Our first thought was to move it closer to our rig so the awning could shield it from the elements. Can you say H-E-A-V-Y!!! Our second thought was to leave the picnic table where it was.
We were lucky to get into North Whidbey RV Park after our long trek north. With the Covid-19 lockdown still in effect only long-term rentals were allowed. We booked online and there were no restrictions mentioned so we were surprised when we arrived and they told us it was closed to new campers. We explained we were supposed to be volunteering in the North Cascades but had no idea when the call would come for us to move up into the park. They had some State Park volunteers in the same situation so they let us stay. We just kept renewing online as our volunteer start date kept shifting back on the calendar. The campground was very well maintained, good Wi-Fi, nice laundry room, friendly staff and all around a great place to stay.