Journal entry for September 2-5, 2017
We left Seattle and headed northeast on another beautiful sunny day. By this time, we had been on the road for almost a month, and we’d had great weather the whole time.
North Cascades National Park is a bit like Redwood National Park in that it’s next to other government owned land. Redwood has state parks next to it, and North Cascades has national recreation areas next it. As you drive around, you switch from one to another, and most of the time it’s hard to tell the difference between them.
We arrived on the Saturday of Labor Day long weekend and it was very hard to find a camping spot. We first tried Goodell Creek Campground and it had only two available sites. They were fine but there were only drop toilets nearby. We should have taken one of these sites, but we decided instead to go to the other two nearby campgrounds hoping to find nicer toilets. They were all full. When we went back to Goodell Creek Campground those two spots had already been taken.
In the end, we had to backtrack even more and camp outside the park at Glacier Peak Resort in the town of Marblemount. The campsites were a bit too close to each other and we had to share a picnic table with a friendly couple, but everything else was great and well maintained.
Having found a place to camp for the next two nights, we drove back into the park to the Visitor Center to get some advice on hikes. A park ranger recommended Hidden Lake Lookout Trail, which we would do the next day.
Back at the campsite, we realized that we had been traveling with a little companion for the last week or so. Every day we would find a container of food (trail mix, bread, etc) with new holes and eaten bits, even as we moved from place to place. We also found mouse poop in the car.
After waking up at 7:30am, we drove through a rough and steep gravel road to the trailhead. We ended up parking half a mile from the start of the hike since there was a huge dip on the road and many cars chose not risk driving over it. There were lots of hikers.
We had only done short hikes up until this point during the road trip. This would be our longest and steepest hike yet, with a 3,000+ feet climb and a round trip distance of just under 9 miles.
The beginning of the trail goes through shaded forest. Everything was very dry, not what I expected from the northwest. It looked like it hadn’t rained in a while. As we gained elevation, the forest gave way to a meadow full of flowers and more exposed terrain. The sun was strong and punishing, and the views of the surrounding peaks were great. Some of these peaks still had snow on them.
Hidden Lake is, as its name implies, a little hidden. You don’t see until you reach the edge of a ridge. It’s a beautiful lake with snowy peaks in the background.
The last section of the trail going up to the Hidden Lake Lookout hut is over big rocks, so some easy scrambling is required. Apparently the hut is not used for fire lookouts anymore. It is instead maintained by a volunteer group. You can actually enter the hut, and there’s a couple of beds with mattresses inside for overnight stays.
The views from the hut were spectacular.
Even though it was only 9 miles, the hike felt long and tiring. But for the views we were able to enjoy, it was very worth it.
We relaxed at the campground for the rest of the day. This was the only hike we did in North Cascades as we left the park the next day. It was smoky when we woke up, and as we drove out of the park it got progressively worse.
The drive to Spokane was beautiful. I had never seen this type of landscape with brown huge hay fields that went on for miles.
It was extremely smoky in Spokane too. During those weeks it felt that there were large wildfires everywhere. The fires got so bad in Glacier National Park that they ended up closing it. That was going to be our next destination, so we had to cancel it. Instead, we would head to Yellowstone.
We stayed a couple of nights in Spokane, planning our travels after the US. We booked flights to London, and then to Nepal. We also tried to find a way to get rid of our rodent friend in our car. Jenni was very adamant about not killing it, so we set up a humane trap in the car: a large plastic bucket with some nuts in it. We figured that there was no way the mouse would be able to climb out of it. To our surprise the next morning, all the nuts in the bucket were gone, but there still was no sight of the mouse. We never saw the mouse after that though, so maybe it decided to make Spokane its new home.