24 Hours In The North Cascades
In September, Laura and I made the somewhat spontaneous decision to try to squeeze in a fall hike in the North Cascades. If you've ever seen the photos, fall in the cascades is something really special; the larch light on fire in the brightest yellow, and the mountainsides are sprinkled with red and orange. It really is a sight to see. This combined with the fact that I hadn't been to the North Cascades before was all too enticing to pass up. We last minute booked a hostel to stay at for one night, and after work on a Friday, we were off to spend 24 hours in the North Cascades.
Hostels are definitely interesting experiences. After staying at one in Banff this previous March, I was comfortable with the idea of sharing my space with strangers. It tends to pull you out of your comfort zone, and you get to meet some really cool people! Most of the people staying at the North Cascades Mountain Hostel were finishing up their last leg of the PCT and were serious mountain people. Our one day mission to hike 7 miles looked REAL weak in comparison to what these people are completing. (If your curious, I highly recommend doing research on the Pacific Crest Trail. Its insane.) The owner was super nice though, and his dog Biscuit was my favorite part of the whole thing.
On Saturday morning, we woke up to some beautiful sunshine and high hopes that the views would be as epic as we were expecting. As we approached the North Cascades, we stopped at Washington Pass overlook for the most insanely beautiful view of Liberty Bell. The peaks were shrouded in clouds and covered in yellow larch, and we could not have arrived there at a more perfect time. We continued on to our trailhead from here.
Once reaching the Maple Pass Loop trailhead, the sunshine had faded away. We were hoping that the rain would hold off, but, just as my luck would hold, it began to mist. And then, the mist became rain. And then wind got added to that whole mix, and before Laura could gush about how much she loves hiking in the rain, I was not having a good time. I hadn't hiked in a while, my legs and knees were sore, I was cold, and I was wet. AND my hair was wet. And I know that's an absolutely ridiculous complaint but that's my one girl vice. It just is what it is.
As we climbed up past Lake Ann all I wanted to do was turn back. Laura's frequent "I just love hiking in the rain!" statements were of no help. Honestly, I would have turned back, despite driving all the way there, if she hadn't forced me to keep pushing on. (Your annoying positivity wins out this time Laura... this time.) The weather got worse and worse. The fog diminished all promise of any views of the surrounding peaks and the rain had turned to snow. This is not the reason I hike. However, as we continued to gain elevation, the sky started to clear. Remarkably, the closer we got to the pass, the more blue sky we could see. Some form of hope returned and helped me to push all the way on.
We then reached a point where we couldn't really tell which direction the trail was going to continue, but we looked onward to a big peaked and jokingly said, "wouldn't it be funny if we had to go over that?"
Turns out, we did.
The final push to the top was not void of some serious heavy breathing. As we reached the pass, the wind increased and a blizzard started to roll through. The other side was completely socked into fog and so our lunch stop was cut pretty short in an attempt to stay warm and keep moving. We made our way back down, and our joints were starting to protest. The slog back to the bottom was definitely steep and difficult.
This was not the easiest or most rewarding hike I've ever done, but it was an experience, and the views were truly beautiful in their own way. Regardless of conditions, I'm so glad we got to squeeze this last big hike in for the year before the elements were completely against us. It was just enough to make this one a priority next year! I can't wait to see what all the views look like on a clear day; the North Cascades really are a treat.
Before heading home we made a stop at Diablo Lake, something I've seen a billion times on Instagram, but never in person. We snagged some photos, got back in the car, and make the 4 hour trek back to Spokane. What a weekend.