Hozomeen Campground

North Cascades Backpacking Trip Day #2

Day #2 was our first day of actual backpacking. The route for the day was to go from Hozomeen to the Deerlick backcountry stock camp (GPS route can be found here), the entire day was away from Ross Lake.

Here is a 3D screenshot from Google Earth. It shows how rugged the terrain around us was, but doesn’t really give a good idea of our total elevation gain for the day (about 1800′).

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We were all up early – a bit after 5a. I fired up my Jetboil and made some yummy maple-brown sugar oatmeal for breakfast and then we broke camp to start off on our adventure.

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The trailhead was about 1/2 mile from the campsite. About halfway there, Michelle asked for the time. I reached down for my Fitbit to check the clock, and it was gone! So, I walked back to the campsite and started to search. After making two loops around the site, the outhouse, and the water spigot I gave up. No step counting for me Sad smile.

Like all hikes in Washington, it started by going uphill Smile. The very beginning of the trail was lightly wooded through exposed granite, which I thought was pretty cool. This rapidly turned into a thick forest without much of a view.

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We did pass a tree that looked like the victim of a lightning strike.

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The trail was clear all the way to the first intersection. This was a large tree that had been recently cleared. I should have put something in the picture to give a better reference to the size.

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The intersection to the Hozomeen Lake trail was about 3 miles in. Just prior to this intersection, we passed a group of about 10 kids heading back to Hozomeen. These were the only people we saw the entire day…In the picture below, everyone is still happy and having fun at this point.

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The first of many trees that we needed to crawl over.

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The first stream crossing.

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I was in the back while we were hiking along. Sometimes I got to hear interesting conversations like:

“What was that?” followed by “Don’t turn around!” and “Get out the bear spray” then a bush next to the trail erupting while a grouse took off. I guess Michelle wanted to add some pepper flavor for dinner…

Did I mention that the bugs were nasty so far? This was the intersection that went off to the Willow Lake Campsite. The bugs were the worst along Willow Lake – we went through half of our bug spray by this point. I can’t imagine staying at this camp…would have had to hide in the tent the entire time.

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The trail along the lake, this was typical of most of the day. trees everywhere and not much to see.

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View of Willow Lake through the trees. This was the best view of the lake from the trail. Still pretty tough to see.

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Trent at a quick rest break.

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We are now about 5 miles into the hike and the girls are ready to be done. Here they are voting against continuing after our resupply point when we cross highway 20. They were already coming up with a plan for sun bathing back at Lake Chelan.

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Navigating over one of the larger logs in the trail.

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We all found the hike for this day to be pretty boring. Most of the time we were in the woods that were very thick and unable to see much. As we descended from Willow Lake, we did hit a very cool section of trail that went along the outlet stream from the lake. This short section went through a narrow valley with several small waterfalls.

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We were all carrying bear canisters for holding all of our scented items. I had mine strapped on the bottom of my pack, and it kept falling out, making for endless Donkey Kong jokes.

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Nightmare Camp was the next site we passed along the way. The bugs were starting to thin out at this point. It would have made a nice place to spend the night.

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Crossing Lightning Creek.

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Lightning Creek.

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For some reason, I did not get any pictures at the campsite. There were 2 sites and an area for horses – one of the sites had some makeshift benches, but did not have a good area for our tents. Being the only group at the campsite, we used this one for dinner, and set the tents up at the better site. To get our water, we had to hike 100 yards down a steep hill to a creek. We spent part of the afternoon hanging out on a gravel bar. It was hot outside, and the creek was very cold.

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Along one side of the gravel bar there was a nice slow channel. Trent and I took a quick dip in it.

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Dinner was the usual freeze dried fare. We ate and then were off to bed relatively early. It was an early start to the day and the 10ish miles we hiked took a bit out of everyone.

North Cascades Backpacking Trip Day #1
North Cascades Backpacking Trip Day #3

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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.

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Warming up the plane.

Here is the crew getting ready for takeoff.

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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.

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Cruising up Lake Chelan

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

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

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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’)!

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

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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.

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Ross Lake Dam

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Waterfall coming off of Jack Mountain

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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

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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!

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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.

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

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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

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

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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