North Cascades Backpacking Trip Day #1

Last fall, Kim and I got together with our friends Trent and Michelle and talked about hiking the Wonderland Trail this summer. We spent tons of time planning our route, watching conditions in the mountains over the winter and spring, buying the latest and greatest equipment, and filling out our permit application. Needless to say, we were severely disappointed when we did not get permits.

After being bummed for a bit, Michelle came up with a more awesome alternative – an epic hike in the North Cascades. (check out the map here to make things easer to follow along). The plan – take a seaplane from the town of Chelan to the north end of Ross Lake, backpack 80 miles through North Cascades National Park to Stehekin, relax for a night in a lodge at Stehekin, and then float plane back to Chelan. Oh yeah – get all of this done in 7 days of hiking.

At 5:30a on July 23rd, Kim and I drove to Bellevue to pick up Trent and Michelle to begin our great adventure. Our early departure got us in Chelan an hour before our flight was scheduled to take off, so we found a café in town to have our last “real” food for the next week.

After our “last breakfast”, we made our way over to Chelan Seaplanes to load up our backpacks.



Warming up the plane.

Here is the crew getting ready for takeoff.


Once the plane was warmed up, it was time to go!

Our pilot has only been flying in the Chelan area for the last couple of years. Prior to flying down here, he was a bush pilot up in Alaska. He still did a great job of pointing out the sites for us. At one point, he tried to point out some Bighorn Sheep, but none of us actually saw them.

A view of the orchards along the NE side of Lake Chelan.


Cruising up Lake Chelan


Along the way, the mountains are already starting to look rugged…it is gonna be a tough hike!




We also got a little peek at Glacier Peak (10,520’) – the jagged snow cap barely in the picture.


Occasionally our pilot would “dip” one of the wings to give us a better view of something. A couple of times, he did this without warning, and kinda freaked us out!

We also got some awesome views of Mount Baker (10,760’)!



Hwy 20 cutting through the park…ok, technically this part of the highway is already outside the park.


Rainy Lake is on the right, Ann Lake is on the left. You can see a trail on the hillside above Ann Lake. Rainy Pass on Hwy 20 is the leftmost portion of the road in the picture.


Ross Lake Dam


Waterfall coming off of Jack Mountain


Suspension bridge over Lightning Creek. The dock at the bottom is the Lightning Creek Stock Camp. We had lunch there on our 3rd day – it was a very cool camp.DSC01853

Almost there. The small hill at the end of the ridge is Little Jackass Mountain (4387’), the jagged peak near the middle is Hozomeen Mountain (8066’), and just off our wing and out of the picture is Desolation Peak (6102’). Our first day of hiking is the valley between Hozomeen Mountain and the ridge in the foreground.DSC01857

Hozomeen Mountain


Our approach to the campground. As we clear Little Jackass Mountain, you can see the boat launch dock where we were dropped off.

Plane landing.

Plane pulling into the boat launch at Hozomeen.

The seaplane leaving us! Only one way home now!


Once we were done with the flight, we hung out at the Hozomeen Campground for the the day. It was warm, and Trent decided it was a good idea to get in the water, sneak up on Michelle, and splash her while she was sun bathing on the dock.


Had to get a picture of a good looking blog author.


Lunch at the Hozomeen Boat Launch. We tried to stay near the lake to avoid the mosquitos. Unfortunately, the campsites weren’t near the lake Sad smile



Our campsite was a nice grassy area near the bathrooms, but there were a ton of mosquitos! We chewed through our bug spray.


We did get to have a campfire to help keep the bugs away.DSC01880

This ended up being a long but very spectacular day. Everyone crashed before it was even dark outside (which was the theme for the trip).

North Cascades Backpacking Trip Day #2
North Cascades Backpacking Trip Day #3


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