Because of the next few days of forecasted weather, Al of the Senior Trailblazers sent out an email asking if anyone would be interested in taking a rather long trip on Tuesday to the North Cascades National Park, a good 90+ miles south of us. Since our regular hiking day is Thursday, not many people answered his email. But I did, having missed out last Thursday because of illness. Fred and Mike, two more Trailblazer regulars, joined Al and me on this absolutely magnificent day. The sign at the trailhead gave us a good idea of what we might be able to accomplish: a fairly easy hike to Cascade Pass, and then we hiked from there up to the Sahale Arm, up a ridge that follows a trail to the Sahale Glacier.
The initial part of the hike took us up 36 switchbacks and a long gentle slope to Cascade Pass. The entire mountain range we saw is dominated by this beautiful Johannesburg mass. We also saw Sahale Peak and glacier, as well as Boston Peak, many new (to me) vistas. When we reached the Pass, we had a wonderful view at these mountains as well as access to several trails.
Fred and Al arriving at Cascade Pass
After a short rest, we headed up Sahale Arm, an old prospectors' trail. After a steep climb of around 800 feet, we saw the cirque of Doubtful Lake (a strange name, it is definitely a lake) and looked down into the Stehekin River Valley. You can sure tell that the area was carved by glaciers, as many are still around. We looked across at Inspiration Glacier, which can't be seen from the Pass. Here's a picture of Doubtful Lake.
Although you can't see it here, the lake has several waterfalls heading into it, but you could hear them very clearly. The day was bright and sunny with a light breeze, almost perfect hiking weather. Al and I rested and had our lunch while Fred and Mike decided to hike on to the end of Sahale Arm to the glacier, with an agreement that they would head back to join us by 1:30 or so. After we ate lunch and had rested a bit, Al and I walked a little ways further along the Sahale Arm trail. We saw Fred and Mike in the distance, standing in one spot for a long time, and then they headed back to us earlier than planned. This is why:
We learned that this big bear (VERY big, more than 300-400 pounds, they estimated) was in the trail ahead of them. Not having been spotted by him, they watched him in amazement for a long time. Of course I wasn't there, and they had no camera with them. By the time they had reached us and told us the story, we got out binoculars and saw him on the ridge. I took this picture with my telephoto, and we discussed going back to get better pictures, but this was as close as I wanted to get. At one point, Fred and Mike were within 250 feet of him!! I have one more picture that shows him:
Isn't he beautiful? And scary?? Wouldn't you go the other direction? I sure did. However, this was just about the most perfect day I can remember in awhile. I am tired, but not terribly so. We hiked nine miles and gained 2,700 feet in elevation. After we drove down the road to Concrete (yes, there is a town named Concrete), we stopped at Annie's Pizza Place for dinner together. We left town this morning in the dark and arrived home in the dark, but what a day we had in between!
As you can see in this picture, the colors are still vibrant, if not as abundant, and if we can have a day even HALF as wonderful on Thursday as today was, I will be a very happy and grateful Senior.