The North Cascades

Emily and I have been trying to go hiking for sometime now. And it just never seemed to work. We've both got busy schedules as we build our empires, but summer has thankfully freed up a lot of commitments. On Friday, we went up to North Cascades National Park to kick off her ambitious "hiking" week before she moves back to California and leaves the PNW.

You've got to give in order to get and in our case that meant waking up and leaving at 5:30 am for the 3 hour haul to the North Cascades. We spent the whole ride discussing school & future plans, recent hiking adventures, favorite restaurants....basically life. I'd never realized how much we had in common as we talked non-stop, which was very refreshing. You know you've found a great friend when the conversation has fluidity and you can discuss ANYTHING. Good discussions are so hard to find these days in the technological world.


I think it's important to have a diverse group of friends since they offer completely different perspectives on the world. Older friends are especially important since they've experience things before you. It's like getting advice from an older sister. I felt like Emily had gone through the exact same things that are going on with me right now. She reassured me in so many ways.

Emily also happens to be an extremely organized individual (in a good way!). She made this beautiful itinerary for our adventure. First we'd check out Washington Pass Overlook, conquer Maple Pass Loop, then head up Thunder Knob (which we ran out of time for). Basically, I just need to hire her and have her organize my life.

The way up was beautiful, and that is a complete understatement. I've discovered that I'm extremely biased to mountains (I mean I did grow up in Colorado...). As cheesy as it sounds, they're majestic and have a certain grandeur that instills awe. Weaving our way on Highway 20 through the Cascades was magnificent.

As we got closer to our first destination, we drove past Diablo Lake and Ross Lake and stopped at a lookout because they looked like this:


Uh, yeah. You always stop when you see turquoise-blue glacial water. It's one of the rules of the road...right? For some reason we had a hard time figuring out what we were looking at, but in the end just decided to enjoy the view.


Fun fact: The water is this gorgeous blue because the water is supplied by glacier melt. When the glaciers melt, the rocks rub against one another which yields "rock flour" silt and enters the water. With this mixture, the lake appears turquoise blue when the light hits it. SCIENCE!

Back on the road and we kept an eye out for our turn. Turns out that there are SO MANY HIKES up there, all along the same road. The perfect way to make your day worthwhile, just go on a few hikes then head home!

Washington Outlook Pass is a short hike of .25 miles. Actually, I think I'd classify it as a nature stroll. Anyway, the views were unparalleled. The path offered incredible views of Liberty Bell Mountain and the surrounding mountain peaks with Highway 20 snaking it's way through pine trees below.


What even. I don't think I could even imagine something this beautiful, let alone it be a reality.

I was jazzed and excited for the actual hike. See, I had no idea what to expect. Emily assured me that there were amazing views and I believed her, but I should have looked at where we were going before the trip. Oh well, I was in for a surprise.

Maple Pass Loop is a little over 7 miles and offers a sweeping panorama of the Cascades plus aerial views of Lake Anne and Rainy Lake. We chose to take the gradual ascent and save the switchbacks for the way down (definitely the best choice, I hate switchbacks).


This is such a great time of year. Everything is green and vibrant, the wildflowers are in bloom making  the ascent that much more enjoyable. Cue the macro foliage photos.


Lake Anne is only a .75 mile detour off of the main trail, and naturally we took it to check out the lake. Keep in mind too that this is the pacific northwest. And in true PNW fashion, we got some rain. It rained on off at least five times, but around this time it was the first instance and the heaviest. Of course, when we had arrived/looked at the weather report, it was sunny and we left our raincoats in the car. Never do that. Never. Just take it with you and deal with the weight.

It was also at this time that I made the realization we were climbing up to the top ridge and began to regret everything (not really, but it was daunting).


Lake Anne was nice, but we had to get back on the main trail.


On the ascent, we kept stopping frequently and just saying WOW.


Puppy friend!


Emily figuring out where we started the hike from/admiring the beautiful landscape.


I can legitimately say that we took pictures of same thing. Yet every single photograph is amazing.


Easily the highlight of the hike for me.


I FINALLY remembered to take a picture with my compass!


You could see everything, even the zig and zag of the switchbacks.


Maddie's birthday gift to me makes another appearance on the blog. Love this patch! Check out the other ones made by Kimberlin Co. I want to buy the 7 Wonders of Washington.


A lovely Rainy Lake. Fitting name too.


Some more wildlife action! We also saw a marmot on the trail, fun stuff.


And we we're on Highway 20 again heading back to Seattle when we remembered that an iconic boathouse was on Diablo Lake and we set out for it. The NW boathouse matches the lovely turquoise and is quite photogenic.


The Keep Exploring flag also made an appearance!


Amazing day spent in the beauty of the pacific northwest! So sad to see Emily leave, but she's got a lot in store for her and big plans in her future. She also has a blog if you want to check out what she is up to.

If you have the time, go up to North Cascades National Park. I don't know if it's a newer park or if they recently updated the facilities, but it's all gorgeous. There are so many trails up there with fabulous signs indicating which road to take. When I used the bathrooms (which as we all know are clearly not 5-star hotel restrooms) they were clean and I didn't have to hold my breath. The trails themselves were well groomed and clean of trash. Highly recommend going up there.

And one more thing....if you do go up there, take me along with you!