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Alpine and Goats in the North Cascades

August 21, 2020

Back in the North Cascades! Woohoo!

As a man in the parking lot said, “it’s really quite a special place”.

We also met a different man in the parking lot who loudly proclaimed “it’s really just a 1-hr park”.

He was like some character who I didn’t think actually existed in real life. The kind of guy who leaves a 1-star review on yelp for a hiking trail because it wasn’t paved and there’s no guardrails. He continued as we ate lunch, “I’ve driven it twice already and I don’t know what I’m going to do with the rest of my day. They could have done a better job making these pullouts”.

To each their own I suppose.

Our time in the North Cascades was surreal and hard to capture in words or photos. We saw an incredible amount of wildlife, more than I’ve ever seen on a trip aside from Alaska. Numerous mountain goats, countless marmots, a few pika, a deer trying to eat Lea’s hiking pole, a cute black bear roaming through camp, and a beautiful golden colored owl.

The park really reveals it’s true gems as you hike up into the high mountains.

If you would like a print, or full resolution file of any of the images feel free to reach out to me at

looking at the map 🗺 👀

We started off the trip at Baker Lake after getting permits for some backcountry camping. We were #105 in line for the day when we got there at 8am, but it all worked out. We got 4 nights in the backcountry across different areas of the park.

The lower areas of the park include some gorgeous gatorade-blue colored lakes, which are just perfect for swimming. We hung around the lake wishing we had a kayak or boat to get out further.

alt Big trees and big glacial rivers

alt Baker Lake is oh so blue

alt Slightly missed the action shot!

alt Gotta take the classic sign pic

Soon we left the big lakes and went up into the mountains. It’s hard to see much of them from below, especially if the clouds are low. The road up to cascade was quite the experience as people flew down a 1-lane dirt road in the opposite direction.

alt Getting excited as we get our first views of the higher mountains on the drive up

After getting to the trailhead though, we made dinner in the evening light with jagged mountains and large glaciers all around. We prepped and set out for a few nights of backpacking over Cascade Pass and up Sahale Glacier. We’ve been backpacking almost every other weekend this summer and felt in great shape. In addition, we didn’t travel far, but you really don’t need to here.

alt 30+ switchbacks later, the pass is in sight!

alt Stehekin Valley from Cascade Pass

alt Pointy!

alt Looking back towards Cascade Pass from a side trip

alt Enjoying the scenery

alt Taking in the alpine views while trying not to get sunburnt

alt Pelton Basin Camp is a special place

alt A rest in front of Doubtful Lake and Sahale Mountain.

alt This marmot knows how to pose

alt Beautiful alpine trail (featuring a mountain goat)

alt A Goat! They came right up to us

alt A mountain goat surveys it’s turf

alt They’re big fans of getting up high and looking down on you

alt Squad

alt Took a break from the goats to enjoy the lupin meadows

alt And the goats in the meadows

alt Damn

alt The trail is quite epic as you head up, up, up!

alt Smiles everywhere

alt Lea enjoying the mountains all around

alt Pano of Doubtful Lake and Cascade pass below, and the other peaks all around.

alt We dropped packs at camp and started up the glacier

alt Doesn’t get cooler than this

alt Looking out from just below the summit pyramid of Sahale Mountain

alt A foreboding peak

alt Very excited to be up in the mountains

alt Lea showing how it’s done, glissading down to camp

alt Trying to stay warm as the clouds and winds move in

alt Our home for the night at the base of Sahale Glacier. When we went to bed you couldn’t see anything around, but later that night we caught great views of the Perseid Meteor Shower.

alt A chipmunk waiting to give his sermon

alt “Get off my lawn” - this marmot, probably

alt Happy Trails

Written by Mike Guida who enjoys prolonged outdoor adventures and building stuff with software. Follow him on Twitter