August 20 – September 3, 2018
Before we fled from the smoke on the east side of the Cascade Mountains, we called ahead to make sure our North Cascades campground could take us three days early. They could, but couldn’t guarantee that the smoke would be gone. If only. Fortunately it was better and we were happy to be stationary after the long travel day.
Glacier Peak Resort & Winery
We landed at Glacier Peak Resort & Winery (we use that resort term loosely), a place we’d booked quite a while ago to make sure we were set for the Labor Day Holiday. Odd little campground, but it worked for us. They had a no frills laundry, decent restaurant on site and practically a barnyard of animals.
Jackson got acquainted with five black pigs just a little smaller than him. They poked their juicy snouts through the chain links and grunted up a storm.
We also strolled every morning on the Slug Trail. Not the official name of course, but you had to be careful of the slugs or take a slippery step. Ick.
Cows in the haze at the end of the slug trail.
The resident momma goat had a baby while we were there and didn’t like me looking in the barn window at said baby. She gave me quite the look. I believe glare is the correct term. Rabbits were literally everywhere along with the evidence of rabbits which Jackson tried to eat.
And lots and lots of blackberry bushes, mainly on the slug trail. I remember blackberry picking as a child during our Alabama family reunions. I also remember the wicked thorns. Those bushes don’t give up their prizes without a fight. I still like the taste of the berries, but don’t like all the seeds. I made Pat try one and he just shrugged.
On the other side of the road from the campground was this cute little chapel, complete with tiny pews. This was on the way to the riverside tent camping spots. I kept saying I was going to take pictures but never did. Lots of old growth forest by the Skagit River with big trees growing out of even bigger stumps. The stumps were covered with moss flowing down like melted candle wax. Very lush and easy to tell that we’re in rainforest country here.
Backpacking – Will He or Won’t He
Pat’s plan for this stop was to try out a short backpacking trip and break in all his gear. With all the smoke the first week, we weren’t so sure it would be possible. By this time the smoke was not only irritating eyes and throats, but also caused him to break out in a rash. With rain in the forecast, we were cautiously optimistic that the skies would clear for him, so we made a reconnaissance trip to the trail head.
Beyond those flowers is a narrow trail and marker in the distance. Although the smoke was better on our side of Rainy Pass, it was still smokey here. Still not sure he’s going to go.
Pacific Crest Trail
Pat decides to make the three day trip after two days of nice soaking rains. If that didn’t clear the skies, nothing would. He had to get a back country pass and bear canister for all his smellables (that’s a real technical backpacking term and not a Judy-ism).
Here’s his canister crammed with three day’s worth of food and anything else a bear might be able to smell.
There’s my happy man ready to hit it. And here he is demonstrating his shoot-from-the-hip technique for the bear spray.
The Pacific Crest Trail has been in his sights for a while, and we’re in the perfect spot for him to hike a small portion of it on the North Cascades Bridge Creek Trail. What’s that blue cooler doing there you ask? Well, that’s ‘trail magic’. Locals leave treats for through hikers on longer trails such as the PCT and AT as a little surprise. This particular cooler had an assortment of beers and sodas ready for weary hikers. It was Pat’s starting point, but many were ending here due to the fires foiling their final leg to Canada.
Three nights, 25 miles, a few pack adjustments, and 5000 feet of elevation change later, he’s back! Dirtier and limping, but happy with his hike. There’s new trail magic in that cooler (wine and different beers), but his eyes lit up with my offering – a 20 ounce diet pepsi and two mini Snicker bars.
Pat won’t write in this blog, so I have to tell the tales for him. One campsite had a privy requiring a hike up two switchbacks to an open expanse with sweeping views. And just to be clear, a privy in the back country is an outhouse without the house. Hopefully no one is watching him sit upon his “throne”. He didn’t take a camera so we’ll just have to imagine – the views, not him sitting up there. One night he heard what he thought was ear-flapping. Do bears flap their ears? What is that?! And finally, it’s all good until a young whipper-snapper passed him on a hill about 2 hours away from the end. He overdid it on one of his knees trying to keep up appearances. Just a strain and he’s healed up nicely.
Pat loved it and is ordering a few things to make the next trip better – camp shoes, a hydration tube for water, and his very own bear canister. And it lowered his blood pressure. Was that the hiking or being away from me and Jackson?
North Cascades Highway
A bit about North Cascades National Park. It has mountains, glaciers, rivers, lakes, lush forests, and just about as much beauty as Glacier National Park in my opinion. The drive through is not as hairy as Glacier and you’re still rewarded with spectacular views. A hiker and backpacker’s dream.
Of course if you can’t get out on the trails, the drive on the North Cascades Highway will do. This shot of Diablo Lake was taken on our reconnaissance drive. Still smokey.
And here it is again after I dropped Pat off at the trail head.
It’s so windy at the lake overlook that the trees have their branches blown permanently to one side.
Rainy Pass trail head before and after that cleansing rain.
Mom & Jackson Pass The Time
What did Jackson and I do with ourselves while the mountain man was away? Well, I got a cut & color that I desperately needed, did laundry, bought groceries, made a wedding card, and puttered around the RV. Jackson and I also took a sight-seeing drive. Here’s Jackson posing so nicely by the Skagit River with majestic Glacier Peak in the background. He’s sniffing that nice, clean air and trying not to lose his footing on the river rocks.
My favorite mountain and river shot.
A few flower pics from Jackson’s car ride. These are from the Cascadian Farms garden right off the North Cascades Highway.
The lady that cut my hair suggested we take a drive up Sauk Mountain. That’d be seven miles of steep gravel switchbacks in first gear. Another episode of where the pavement ends, but a great idea from a local.
I know, my eyes are closed, but it’s the best picture of me with my delightful patch of snow. I was like a little kid when we rounded the corner and found this spot. I’m guessing it never melts on this side of the mountain since it made it to August 31st and the temp has nowhere to go but down. As this point, the driving part was over and we were on foot due to potholes the size of Bitsy. We found car parts scattered about and didn’t want to risk it.
So gorgeous looking down at the Skagit River Valley below.
Felt like we were walking around in the clouds up here.
I mentioned making a wedding card during my down time. Well, that was for a wedding we were invited to in Seattle – our friends Steve & Ann’s daughter-in-law’s sister’s wedding. Say that three times fast. Anyway, we were acquainted with the bride and it was a chance to hang out with our friends and enjoy beautiful views.
They couldn’t have picked a lovelier spot for a wedding, right on the Seattle waterfront.
Here we are with Steve & Ann. This gave us a chance to dust off our dress clothes, too. (Sorry for the heater growing out of your head, Steve!) The ceremony was beautiful and we enjoyed a fabulous lunch reception.
I’ll leave you with this one. Pat’s first morning back from the wilds and I make cinnamon rolls. He looks guilty, right? Guilty of not sharing with that poor begging dog.
Next Up – Whidbey Island! See you on the way.