Day Hiking: North Cascades
by Craig Romano (The Mountaineers Books)
© Craig Romano/The Mountaineers Books. All Rights Reserved.
This is a great hike and a nice place to backpack provided the campground is available (first come, first serve). The view at the top is great. This was my first backpacking trip in WA and I had a great time. Im not sure how accurate the guidebooks are on the distance and elevation gain. I think that the first notable lookout is the 5600 ft level mentioned above. There *was* one poorly marked trail that I only noticed on the way down but I didn't check it out. I found one empty campsite there and set up camp with my tent pointed at Mt Baker. I'm not in the greatest shape and with a full backpack this was a fairly strenuous climb for me but it was all worth it. If I had an ice axe I would have kept going to the very top. Easier as a day hike but having that view for sunrise was worth it.
One word for this hike: pedometer! The path leading to the lookout,which turned off the main trail at 2 3/4 miles, was not clear, which meant that instead of this being a nice 5.5 mile hike for my 11-yr old daughter and I, it ended up being closer to 9 miles by the time we reached the car again. (We stopped somewhere short of the summit). The first few miles are hiked up increasingly steep switchbacks in dry, dark, brown forest where little of interest distracted from the sweat going into the climb. When it began to open up, green cropped up more often, and the diversity in plants and colors exploded almost around a bend. The view at the top? Yes, without a doubt one of the greatest we've ever seen, but the sad fact is at some point, the discomfort and fatigue overshadows the view and makes it seem quite small. Next time (if I can ever convince her to try this hike with me again) my daugher and I will come prepared and do this hike at the end of the season when we're toughened up a bit.
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