The day started with a drive to the Northern Cascades National Park. After about 30 minutes, we reached the boundary of the park. The following overlook was located just off Highway 20. I believe the jagged mountain is Early Winter Spires South
Continuing east on Highway 20 took us to the center of the North Cascades National Park – specifically Lake Shannon and the Skagit River. The following photo was taken near a campsite between these two bodies of water.
We continued on to the main hike for the day. Following a single-lane road for 23 miles, we arrived at the Cascade Pass trailhead parking lot. Unfortunately, the weather at this elevation was quite poor – foggy and drizzling. In fact, we heard thunder once as we were ascending the mountain. Fortunately, this was the only time we heard thunder otherwise we would have returned to the trailhead before reaching the treeline.
We reached the Cascade Pass after ascending 1500 feet. At this point, I thought the chance of getting any good photos was lost. The fog was so dense you could only really see maybe 20 feet in any direction. I was also soaked and chilled to the bone. My motivation for continuing was (1) generate my own warmth and (2) increase the important GPS metrics (elevation gain and distance). We continued to our max elevation of 6826 feet. At this point, we took a quick break to eat lunch (Powerbar and Gatorade). At this point, I asked Russ to take my picture and commented to that this would be my only photo from the hike – my tone dripping with disappointment. Here’s that photo:
Shortly after turning around and heading downhill, we started to see some land through the fog. I was thrilled to see a 1000 feet ahead of us, instead of the 20 feet visibility typical on our ascent. Here’s a picture shortly after the fog started to clear.
At this point, I was ecstatic but the clouds continued to clear even more showing the landscape around us. It was simply amazing to see the massive peaks and deep valleys around us, since these had been hidden in the fog for the last couple of hours. I got some amazing photos as we descended in the clearing weather.
Eventually, I put the camera away and concentrated on my descent down the mountain. The GPS track for the hike is shown below.
Final GPS Stats:
- Distance: 10.25 miles
- Maximum Elevation: 6799 feet
- Minimum Elevation: 3538 feet
- Elevation Gain: 3202 feet