North Cascades National Park
For the following two weeks of our trip, we were supposed to visit the Cycle Oregon. Unfortunately, because of all of the terrible wildfires, we canceled it, so we have a free week. We found out right before we were going to fly to Portland, so we dropped the bicycle gear in the spare bedroom and packed our backpacking gear, considering our decision upon our arrival there. We discussed about Olympic National Park and North Cascades National Park. Finally, the fire spots, smoke, and the fact that we had visited the Olympic National NP before, So we all turn to North Cascades NP. We walked into the wilderness office on a Sunday morning without a plan and start our work with a ranger to pitch a reasonable itinerary. Permits get for a five day trip, we had our breakfast in town, and then set off for Cascade Pass Trailhead. It was an stunning trip and I would love to visit there again.
Day 1: from Cascade Pass Trailhead to Basin Creek Campsite
We started for the trailhead, which is a long way of switchbacks. Roughly 3/4 of a mile in, we found that Mike had forgotten his camera on the floorboard of the car. I sat down at one of the log for some snack, he put his pack down and went back down to get it (typically, we didn’t want someone to break the window for it). While I was staying there, this guy came up and walked around the corner. He was nearly up to 400 pounds. We surprised each other for a moment. I yelled at him to go away and he just looked at me with all of his disdain of a local inconvenienced by a tourist before going on his own way. He was much closer to me than this at the beginning, but I was more concerned with encouraging him to move on than taking a photo of this guy.
A marmot near to the pass.
The view east towards Cascade Pass. Up to this spot, there spread a bunch of hikers. Once we passed a campsite for nearly half a mile below this, we could only saw one person in the following two days.
The evening scene from Basin Creek, right by our campsite.
Day two: Basin Creek Campsite to Buckner Campsite. We continued down the Stehikin River to Park Creek. There we headed north and hiked up the Park Creek Valley for the remaining afternoon and the next day.
We hiked through a small burn of a 2015 fire.
Cow Parsnip around Buckner Campsite.
Day three: Buckner Campsite to Skagit Queen Campsite. This day was my favorite of this outdoor experience. We hiked up above Park Creek Pass, and it’s spectacular.
Hiking Up Creek Pass Trail(and shooting straight into the sun).
Looking down from north Creek Pass down into Thunder Basin.
We perceived a map error that afternoon. The map said we had 5.5 miles from the from the upper section of the pass to Skagit Queen Campsite. It is a relatively comfortable hike that took us 4 hours. We planned to do 8 miles that day. The fitness tracker on my phone indicated that we did more like 11. I don't expect super accuracy from it, but that length is a lot more consistent with the time we walked, even in straightforward terrain (you usually have a good sense of the what a mile feels like when you hike enough). What matters much was, we had planned a extended day hike (13 miles) for the following day. The added distance meant we were going to have a 16 mile day hike compared with 13 miles. Not matter that much, but kind of annoying as it extended.
Day 4: Skagit Queen Campsite toward Flat Creek Campsite: The weather deteriorated as we hiked backward to Park Creek Pass. Fog flooded in and it started raining as we hiked up to the top of the pass. It was quite chilly. We were fortunate that the prevailing wind direction was at our backs, so it wasn't worse enough to blow rain into our faces.
Fog rolled in as we hiked.
On the other side of the pass, it feels like it's a different day. Clear and pretty warm.
On the path out of the campsite place in the morning, we saw bear tracks on top of our boot prints from the last nigh (it wasn't particularly near where we had set up our tent).
We pitched our tent near the Stehekin River.
Our last view of Cascade Pass as we hiked down toward the car.