North Cascades National Park

Last Updated 6/25/2009

NOTE: This trip has optional extra mileage into Canada. If you are inclined to day-hike an extra 6 miles to take a dip in Chilliwack Lake, please remember to bring your passport.

North Cascades National Park is one of the wildest, most beautiful, least visited and most remote wilderness areas in the lower 48 states. Our trip will traverse old growth rainforest as well as alpine meadows with stunning views of high, craggy peaks as well as Ross Lake and Lake Chelan We will hike over 75 miles on established park trails that cross the core of this 2 million acre Federally designated wilderness.

The North Cascades is home to a panoply of common charismatic megafauna such as marmots, pikas, black-tailed deer, Douglas squirrels and the ubiquitous banana slug. Elusive, but also present are gray wolves, fisher, wolverines, grizzly bears, bald eagles, osprey, and Harlequin ducks, all under the watchful eye of 10,778' Mt. Baker.

Mt. Baker
Mt. Baker

Itinerary

The North Cascades Fitpacking Trip will be from Aug 8-20, 2009. We sleep in tents while we're on the trail, but will spend one night in a motel at the end of 1 week to break the trip up. Here is the proposed itinerary. Here are trail maps for the first week and the second week.

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Menus

We don't believe in austere eating regimens. Backpacking is a rigorous, rewarding activity. You must feed your body in order for it perform. Your body will dictate that you eat often. It's important to have fuel to feed it. Check out the sample menus . Note that this is not necessarily a comprehensive list. If you want to bring a big old chocolate cake, go for it. You'll not only hate carrying it over 90 miles through the Virginia mountains, your body will most likely not desire the empty calories anyway.

Cost

$1625 per person double occupancy, $1125 for one week. Here, double occupancy means that you will share a room with someone else during hotel nights.

You will also be responsible for transportation to and from Bellingham as well as any restaurant meals eaten off the trail. The reason for this is to avoid the open bar drunkfest that can occur when food and alcohol are included.

Covered expenses include hotel stays, trail food, ground transportation, permits, guides, and emergency satellite phone service. Personal calls on the sat phone as well as restaurant meals are your responsibility.

Important Note

Fitpacking is on an ongoing quest to expand its selection of trip destinations. As such, this is the very first time we are offering a trip to North Cascades National Park. Even though they are seasoned Pacific Northwest backpackers, the guides for this trip have NOT backpacked these particular trails before.

While intrepid participants may consider pioneering new trails to be exciting, other people don't feel as comfortable with this and may prefer a more established, predictable trip. However, while experience hiking a certain section of trail can make things run smoother, do not underestimate the decades of backpacking experience that our guides possess which permeate every other aspect of the trip in order to ensure a safe and enjoyable journey.

Ross Lake
Ross Lake

Trip Leaders

Steve Silberberg lives in Hull, MA and has many years of backpacking experience over a variety of terrains. He guides most Fitpacking trips and is a SOLO certified Wilderness First Responder, a Leave No Trace Trainer, and a Certified Food Handler.

Heather Gillis spent over 7 years as a backcountry Ranger with Olympic National Park. She is a certified Wilderness First Responder, Leave No Trace Master Educator, and certified Yoga teacher. Everybody loves Heather.

Equipment List

Here is a list of equipment we suggest you bring.

Difficulty

This trip is one of Fitpacking's most ambitious offerings, so it's not as appropriate for borderline sedentary individuals or those uncertain of their ability. Although the trails through North Cascades National Park are usually well groomed with good footing, there is quite a bit of elevation gain and loss. Furthermore, several days will require up to 10 miles of rugged hiking. While this may not seem like much while sitting at your computer or even after say, 7 miles of hiking, cumulative fatigue sets in and every subsequent mile becomes more challenging. On top of that, at times we will be several days away from rescue should an emergency arise. The upside to all this is pure solitude and an amazing enchanted wilderness known only to the select few that traverse this area.

Route

Our journey will begin at the Hannegan Trailhead and wind its way Eastbound and up to the Canadian border before looping back to Hannegan. During the 2nd week, we will climb Easy Pass, which despite its name, is extremely challenging. From there, it will be downhill almost all of the way, as we'll head Northbound to Colonial Creek and back to Route 20.