When we were still hiking on the Appalachian Trail earlier this summer I was dreaming about getting back to Washington for a hike in the North Cascades. Originally I thought that we would take a week off when we got back home and then take off on adventures of different lengths through our mountains. Well, the rest period proved to be a little longer than that week, and a month after ariving back in Washington we made our trip into the North Cascades.
We chose a 40 mile loop near Ross Lake. We have had the chance to hike through North Cascades National Park in the past, and the mountains are so rugged you really dont get to enjoy them because you have to hike through the valleys where the views are extremely limited. The ridgeline we followed on this hike is one of the first ridgelines to the east of the park that allows you to hike up high and get an AMAZING view of all the mountains. You are truely immersed in the center of the mountains in that area. We took my Canon Rebel Camera with us, and took turns taking pictures. This is a collection of pictures from both Bernie and I.
Our first day we started out hiking along a most beautiful creek that follows highway 20 for a little while. The song of the water tumbling over the rocks dimmed the sound of what traffic did happen to go by. This stretch of Ruby Creek has several reminders of its prospecting past. There are a few old cabins, barely holding form in this world any more, their stories fading into the dirt even faster than they are.
And then we started our climb. Its a stretch of a few miles to get up to our first real views of the hike. I huffed and puffed more than I was hoping to, but it was a good journey up. The trail took us through beautiful woods with little streams cascading down the steep hillside. Even though its a steep climb up, it was so very nice to be on a graded trail again! The east coast does not quite grasp the concept of switchbacks, so it was lovely to experience those once again.
Soon we found ourselves with the first views as we stood in McMillan Park (my moms maiden name……). It was not a very big park, but the woods opened up in little patches of meadow and wetlands. I was out front along this stretch, and as I strode along the path all the sudden a movement on the trail ahead of me caught my eye. At the same moment s/he saw me. I believe we even froze at the same moment. About 150 feet in front of me a coyote stood almost motionless, assesing the situation. I even started to second guess myself, is there something on the trail? Or are my eyes playing a trick on me thinking a log is an animal? Nope! I saw its tail twitch. So there we stood for a moment, Bernie paused a few footsteps behind me. And then the coyote decided to move along, and it trotted off the trail into the woods. I am sure watching us long after we had last caught sight of it.
Next we came to Devil Park Shelter. I had forgotten that there were a few shelters still dotting the North Cascades. Many have been torn down over the years instead of putting time and money into repairing them, which is a bit sad really. This one needed some roof work, but it was still a fun experience. It made me feel as if I was on the Appalachian Trail once again! We enjoyed a little break exploring around the shelter. A deer and group of grey jays stopped by while we were there, on the chance that we might have something extra to share with them. While we did not pull out our food, we offered them some company and a little bit of conversation.
Devils Park was really the first amazing views we got! What an amazing energy the whole area had to it. And the light and colours of everything. I could have just sat in Devils Park for days to absorb everything. If one fixed the roof on the shelter you could easily set up a summer camp and just absorb nature 24/7!
As the day passed we started following along the ridgeline that we would be swinging around on. The light changed, highlighting different mountains as the day wore on. Giving us endless photo opportunities. Each moment was filled with such beauty, it was hard not to take a picture every second!
I love being able to look ahead, or behind us and see the trail stretching off into the distance. A faint slender line gently making its way across the sides of ridges. It creates such an amazing sense of scale. You can see where you have come from, where you are going, and how tiny your trail looks from this distance. You can start to feel the immenseness of a landscape such as this one!
That first night we slept in a lovely little blueberry clearing. We were both tired and fell asleep promptly at dark. I woke a couple times to enjoy the beautiful stars shining so vibrantly above, but would quickly pass back into dream land. Mmm, a lovely first day to our 3 day trip!