Had a three day weekend, so the girlfriend and I drove up past Seattle on Thursday night and camped at Larrabee state park. Which closes it’s gates at 10. We pulled in at 9:40. Someone had stolen the campsite I paid too much to reserve. The camp hosts were asleep, so they couldn’t help. Luckily there was another open spot, so we just took that instead.
Friday we continued our drive and headed to North Cascades National Park, where we stopped at about 5 different campgrounds before finally finding an open spot. I recommend planning this trip far enough ahead to reserve spots if you want to camp here. But it worked out, our spot was awesome! Very low traffic area, only a few other spots nearby, and right in the middle of everything we planned on seeing.
After camp was setup, we headed out for our first hike of the weekend. Maple Pass Loop. 9ish miles and 2100 feet of elevation change. Beautiful views of alpine lakes and meadows. Glaciated peaks all around. Waterfalls.
After that, we were hungry. And realized we were actually pretty close to a brewpub we had found on the map. We had expected it to be too far away, but it was only 30-40 minutes so we went for it. The Old Schoolhouse Brewery. Which, as you can probably imagine, is actually in an old Schoolhouse. You know, the picturesque old west frontier style ones.
That’s how we discovered Winthrop, WA. Which is a neat little town in the middle of nowhere just bursting with late 1800's style. Wooden sidewalks, hundred-plus year old buildings. A river running right through the middle of everything. Then there was the brewpub. Packed. Live music, outdoor seating right next to the river, and the food was amazing. Highly recommend.
But if you do find yourselves in the area, watch for deer on the road. There are bazillions of them. Drive slowly.
Because PNW, Saturday morning was raining. We were a little slow to get started. But we finally made our way to Cascade Pass trail. Which, we learned when we got there, that it’s been used by humans for 7500 years! The hike was foggy and misty the whole way, a similar distance and elevation as the previous day. But absolutely gorgeous still. The fog made the mountains seem impossibly, infinitely tall. More glaciers and flowers and waterfalls. Some people out backpacking and ice climbing. Real popular trail, but for good reason.
After that, and a nap, we headed back to Winthrop and played a round of mini golf, and ate at the schoolhouse again because it was just that good.
Sunday we headed west, out of the park, but into Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest, and on to Anderson/Watson Lakes trail.
Great trail for beginner backpacking due to lots of open meadows and offshoot trails. Though it was surprisingly steep and strenuous. There was never a flat stretch of trail. But again, worth it. Three Alpine lakes. And on the way back, we took one of the offshoots and climbed Anderson Butte. Even steeper yet. But worth it, with sweeping views of Mt. Baker and Mt. Shuksan.
Sunday ended up being another 9ish miles but over 2500 feet of elevation change, for a grand total of about 27 miles and 7000 feet of elevation change. My legs are still sore!
Takeaway: the drives to the trailheads were nearly as breathtaking as the views from the hikes themselves. Great driving roads, great forest service roads if you have a little ground clearance (crossovers are plenty for most of this). I do badly wished I had the Africa Twin for this trip, but it just would’ve been too much gear to carry for two people. So I’ll probably take it out for something similar this next weekend by myself. Really looking forward to that.