North Cascades National Park

Over the Labor Day weekend in 2011, I decided to do a car camping trip to North Cascades National Park. I had hoped to do a backpacking trip earlier in the summer, but that did not work out. This seemed like the only option for a visit this year. You cannot reserve backpacking permits ahead of time, and the likelihood that I could get a good backpacking itinerary just showing up was pretty low.

The drive up the east side of the Cascades through Washington took 7.5 hours and I arrived at 9:30pm. My campsite was at the end of Loop C.

My first and main hiking goal was Cascade Pass and then further up the Sahale Arm. It was an hour's drive to the trailhead the next morning, but the views looking south up at Johannesbourg Mountain were nice.

It took an hour and a quarter to get up to Cascade Pass. A trail goes down the valley on the other side.

As I continued up the Sahale Arm trail, I passed a view of Doubtful Lake

Sahale Arm is a ridge, and the distance given from the trailhead is to a collection of flat camping areas, but the trail continues up as a climbers access. Here I am looking back at the ridge and the mountains further south.

Some of the locals like to pose

I got up to about 7000 feet altitude on the ridge when I stopped. It had been quite windy lower down, but this was a sheltered spot with more great views.

The next morning I hiked up Stetattle Creek. The trail here is no longer maintained. There were some sections early on near the creek where the trail is washed out and some scrambling on rocks and tree roots is required. Later it climbs above the creek and is in pretty good shape.

Stetattle Creek

It was a very mossy area

That afternoon I headed for Thunder Creek, one of the more popular trails. It goes south for dozens of miles. It would allow me to go as far as I wanted and then turn around. I got a wasp sting on this hike. There was a nest at one point and most people who walked by were getting stung. There was a warning tape placed next to the trail, and it was dated Aug 17, over two weeks earlier.

The next day, I drove east heading home, with plans to stop for a hike on the east side of the park. On the way I passed Diablo Lake

My hike was the Maple Pass Loop. It isn't actually in the park, it's in the national forest. The pass is the park boundary. On the way up, you pass Lake Ann.

There are a number of passes here, including Maple Pass and Heather Pass, and it wasn't clear which was which. But at one of them, the lower one, there was a nice view to the west.

At the higher pass, is a nice view looking east, and includes the return loop trail switchbacking downhill

It was a steep downhill back to the car and then another 7 hours home. The weather was hot and sunny. making for crystal blue skies the whole weekend.