As Minnesota continues its deep freeze, I find myself thinking back to last summer’s adventures.  I never did share this with you all back then, so I’ll share it now (I drafted it, but the whirlwind of the fall slowed the actual posting of it).  As with the others, this one will be mostly pictures, as they are the closest way to share the adventure with you all.

In the previous post we traversed the Pasayten through the grandeur of the wilderness and the challenge of burned areas, downed trees, and aches and pains.  While we had initially planned to pick our our resupply en route and continue hiking, listening to our bodies we opted to take a rest day instead in the little town of Concrete, WA.  To do so and still pick up our resupply on time required relying strangers and new friends to help (there were a lot of miles to cover).

They did not disappoint; in this thirty-six hour or so period, we were the recipients of an overwhelming amount of kindness from others, including six different rides and a surprisingly wonderful cheep motel.  Again, these folks and others were so great, they deserve their stories told in a separate blog.  In the meantime (as we all know it might be a while before I get another blog up) I will settle with sharing my sincere gratitude for all those out there who helped us and really made this leg of the trip spectacular.

Our trail took us along the west side of Ross Lake, before cutting away from the lake through the mountains to the northwest.  Our new itinerary of shorter hiking days left lots of time for relaxing along the way.

north cascades map
Our path through this section of the North Cascades.  The yellow symbol designates the PNT.  Map credit to the National Park Service, found here.
IMG_6110
Ross Lake from the trail.
IMG_6115
Ross Lake is a man-made reservoir, so there are lots of stumps along the shore.  They make perfect platforms for pistol squats

The forest of the North Cascades National Park is full of magic: giant trees, saprophytic plants (they don’t photosynthesize, instead getting energy from dead things), and giant slugs.

Steep switchbacks (the guidebook said 1700 feet over 1 mile) brought us out of the trees for some true North Cascades scenery.

IMG_6135
A short scramble up from our lunch spot landed these views.

The rainbow of the morning melted into steady rain as we embarked on our final full day of hiking in the North Cascades.  Unfortunately we didn’t get to use the famous cable car crossing we had heard so much about (it was closed for repair) and instead had to ford the river.  I don’t have pictures of this time – with rain falling from the sky, additional water falling from the bushes we were pushing through, and the dampness that comes from wading through an icy river, the camera stayed in my pack for most of the day.  We arrived at our camp at the edge of the national park and received a sliver of sun, enough to hang up a line and start to dry out.

Our last morning on this section involved a couple of hour hike out to the road.  We arrived mid-morning, and took advantage of the sun to dry our soggy gear before continuing our walk down the road.  This was a popular day hiking location, so we got some funny looks from our yard sale of gear!

IMG_6177
Capitalizing on a sunny spot.

After our gear was sufficiently dry, we packed it up and headed on down the forest road toward civilization.  Again, we were met with some incredible trail magic – look for future posts for details.

Though a short section, we had great diversity of experience in North Cascades National Park: the lake life, some intense flies, slightly gnarly river crossings, steep hills, giant trees and slugs, and the gift of a rainbow.  I look forward to my next visit!