Through the Smoke in North Cascades

Our next stop in the State of Washington was North Cascades National Park. A quick side note to mention that our route to NCNP took us on an epic boondocking extravaganza, much to Maggie’s chagrin. We “enjoyed” city camping at a park in Port Angeles, behind a Thai restaurant in Everett, WA; and the back of an ACE hardware store in Bellingham, WA. Maggie was grumbling, but I thought it was a great way to see the city and save a few bucks…now back to our stay at North Cascades.

While North Cascades is much less trafficked than the state’s other two national parks we found it every bit as beautiful. Its spectacular, craggy peaks are breathtaking and have been likened by some to the Alps. Unfortunately, we happened to be there during a time when the surrounding areas were engulfed in wildfires. While the smoke interfered with our views (and our lungs) the one upside was that we practically had the park to ourselves. We secured a great campsite with a private, sandy beach along the beautiful Skagit River which contained what I believe to be our coldest bathwater to date. The river’s temperature was in the low to mid 40’s, but Maggie and the kids know the routine at this point and were champs about it. I think I speak for all of us (or at least myself) in saying that I’m going to miss our daily dips in these pristine rivers when our trip is over.

After the first two days, we felt the smoke had cleared enough for us to do a decent hike. We hiked the 8 miles to Cascades Pass and back which offered stunning views of sub-alpine meadows, dozens of peaks, and a few glaciers. We even got to hear the rumbling caused by snow melting and sliding down the mountain into the valley. While we did not see any big game, we did see several marmots and learned that they emit a very loud and shrill whistle (hence the nickname whistle pigs) if they feel threatened. We also saw a few weasels and a particularly friendly ground squirrel that Liam and CJ were really taken by.

While we really enjoyed our time hiking and paddling in the park, it was not without incidents. Liam decided to eat a penny sized rock because he thought it would help “aid in digestion” and we’ve taken on a family of mice who seem to want a free ride from North Cascades to Glacier National Park. Our next stop on this road trip will be…to an ACE Hardware for traps.