Over a year ago, I saw a feature in Backpacker Magazine on the Sahale Glacier Campsite in North Cascades National Park. Though it was before we knew we would be coming to Washington, this was somewhere I knew I had to visit.
In the time that I've been here, I've dreamed and schemed on how and when to get here. (That tattered copy of Backpacker Magazine is still in our bedroom.) Finally, this weekend I got there!
Sahale Glacier and Mountain is above the Cascade Pass, a beautiful and popular destination by itself. It's a strenuous 6 mile hike up 4100 vertical feet. The trek to the site is enough to keep most casual campers away, but still it's popular enough to fill up quickly. In order to get one of the 6 campsite permits, I left at 4am Friday morning to get to the Ranger Station when they opened at 7; I got there at 6:40 and there was already a line. Fortunately, I got one of the permits, and hit the trail immediately after.
Rain earlier in the week had kept most people away, and as luck would have it, I was the first, and only person on the trail that early. Love the solitude.
But I wasn't totally alone. Saw plenty of marmots, grouse, picas, and chipmunks. No bears though.
And lots of berries. Blueberries, huckleberries, raspberries, and salmonberries.
Fields of them; Nature's produce aisle.
The first day was cloudy and misty, but dry. That night, the clouds cleared out for a spectacular sunset.
The views of the Milky Way were awesome, and the next morning presented an even more breathtaking sunrise.
There were three other parties up there with me. A father and son, with whom I shared dinner and spent hours chatting with. There was also a married couple who stayed busy taking photos from their site at the foot of the glacier.
And there was a group of three guys who left early the next morning to climb Mount Sahale, 1000 feet above the glacier camp.
Also, I can't not mention the best toilet in the world. Sure it doesn't flush and it can be a little drafty, but you can't beat the view.
The next day was nice and sunny. It started chilly (39 on my thermometer) but warmed up for the hike back down. Million dollar views all the way back.
All in all, it was worth the wait. The views were definitely worth the extra ten pounds of camera stuff I hauled up. Maybe next time I'll take a climbing buddy and summit Sahale Mountain.
BONUS iPhone Pic:
The whole park has a kind of "Lord of the Rings" feel to it, so what better book to read on my "front porch". Totally worth the little extra weight.
Bonus video clip:
Panning across the trail below the camp and above Cascade Pass.