Summer has finally arrived in the Pacific Northwest! After a fairly cool and rainy June/July, these first few days of August have been GLORIOUS. The snow has finally begun melting up at the higher elevations, which makes me very excited to do some alpine exploring over the next couple of months. I kicked off my summer hiking season earlier this week with some friends as we spent the day in the mountains going up to Cascade Pass in North Cascades National Park.
Now before going, I really hadn’t heard of the place. I recently read about it on the Washington Trail Association’s website, but since it was kind of a last minute thing I didn’t do a lot of research on it. I figured it was just going to be a simple day hike with some nice views here and there, but really didn’t expect too much. Boy, did I underestimate. If you’re looking for awesome views of glaciers, waterfalls, and big mountains–this is the place to go. Even the drive up here is amazing in itself. There are literally hundreds of waterfalls all pouring off the steep walls of the valley. Dozens of glaciers rest high above nestled between craggy peaks. We actually spent quite a bit of time in the parking lot taking pictures and admiring the towering pinnacles above us before even setting foot on the trail.
The path was very well maintained and easy to follow. It was a warm, dry day so there weren’t many muddy spots. We followed the trail, which ascends gently through the forest for the first two miles. There aren’t many views going up, but it was still a nice walk in the woods. The only downfall was the pesky flies that would swarm every time I stopped walking.
We took our time going up, but when it started getting a little late in the day, my friends decided to turn around a little early to make it back to the trailhead with enough daylight. I picked up the pace and continued on, agreeing to meet up with them again at the trailhead later after reaching the pass.
After the switchbacks, the trail levels out and opens up to meadows. The last mile or so traverses across a beautiful wildflower-laden hillside toward the pass. Much of the snow had melted, with the exception of a 100-foot wide patch across the trail and a much shorter one just before reaching the pass. At the pass (elev. 5,392 ft.), I was greeted with a spectacular view into the heart of the Cascades. There are several other trails that intersect here, going up and beyond to the nearby peaks. I wish I could’ve followed one of them and kept on going, but I had to start heading back. I decided to run back down (while nearly running into a deer at one point) and managed to make it back to the trailhead around the same time my friends had arrived.
How I have never heard of this place until recently, I don’t know. It was actually a pretty easy hike and it’s more accessible than some of the other trails in the area. Afterwards we stopped for dinner in Marblemount, where I got a taste of kangaroo for the first time. Kind of a random item to see on a menu, but it was pretty good! Tastes like a mix between beef and venison, and very lean.
Overall, just another great day in the Northwest. I’m hoping to do quite a few more hikes this season so I’ll probably be posting a little more frequently than normal.