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Perched on the rocky summit of Hidden Lake Peak, Stephen Byrne peers down into the depths of the Cascade River drainage. North Cascades National Park – extending into the alpine up and right – ends at this ridge, but conservation advocates propose expanding the park to include (and permanently protect) the pristine river and old-growth forest below.
Also perched here is the Hidden Lake Lookout, a decommissioned Forest Service fire lookout now generously maintained by a group of volunteers (Friends of Hidden Lake Lookout), providing sweeping twilight panoramas and overnight stays on a first-come basis. This is my favorite alpine lodging in the North Cascades… that is, after the Three Fingers Lookout featured in this month’s print issue.
The West Ridge (grade II 5.2) of Forbidden Peak in North Cascades National Park is listed among the 50 Classic Climbs of North America. Bivy on one of the lofty ledges nestled at the base of the ridge for golden hour views of your morning’s objective.
The western United States was violently assembled through collisions between drifting rock masses and the North American continent, forming jumbles of mountains which in time eroded away.
Fog slowly lifts from the forests and mountains surrounding Diablo Lake, an artificial reservoir formed by the damming of the Skagit River at Diablo Dam, in the Ross Lake National Recreation Area. The North Cascades Highway, from which this photo was taken, provides the primary access into the North Cascades National Park Service Complex.
Liana Welty (hi mom!) hikes through lush forest (and out onto cliff edges at the behest of her photographer son) along Diobsud Creek Trail in Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest.
A small waterfall trickles into Bacon Creek, in a deep, lush valley in Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest right off the North Cascades Highway. The watershed, carved out of the original national park proposals and logged of its old-growth forests, could be protected from future logging by proposed expansions to the park.
The sun is reflected by the glassy surface of a tiny tarn at Tapto Lakes in North Cascades National Park. Pro tip: This basin makes an excellent scenic camp for staging a venture into the Northern Pickets (via Whatcom Pass).
My friend Nathan Rice wakes up to waterfalls and lupine at our fanciful (but rather tilted) campsite in the headwaters of Terror Basin in the Southern Pickets, North Cascades National Park.
Climbing sisters Valerie (left) and Hayley Wall hike through a flowering alpine meadow above White Pass, enroute to Glacier Peak (still well out of sight), crown jewel and namesake volcano of Glacier Peak Wilderness.
From our camp on the shore of Silver Lake, my friend Ian Derrington and I make a rushed weather-window ascent of Mount Spickard in the heart of the Chilliwack Range in North Cascades National Park.
Fireweed (Chamerion angustifolium) [left] and subalpine larch (Larix lyallii) [right] – here surrounding Lake Ouzel, in a neighboring basin – splash color onto the otherwise monochromatic glacier-carved landscapes of the Chilliwack Range.
Hikers follow protocol despite the absence of paper at the register for Nooksack Cirque Trail #750 in Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest. [right] My friend Brian Doehle hikes the North Fork Sauk River Trail in Glacier Peak Wilderness.
[left] My friend Nathan Rice reads (the instruction leaflet for Ibuprofen…) at the Terror Basin High Camp, enroute to scramble the West Ridge of West McMillan Spire. [right] Enjoying frontcountry hospitality in my parents’ Volkswagen Eurovan at the Mineral Park Campground along the Cascade River in Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest.
Low clouds encircle the headwaters of Goodell Creek [left] and Forbidden Peak [right] in North Cascades National Park.
Weekend campers dot the shore of Lake Ann below the imposing massif of Mount Shuksan in Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest. Solitude not guaranteed, but the views are not to be scoffed at.
Join photographer Ethan Welty on a photo tour of Washington’s North Cascades. Ethan shows off not only his favorite spots in North Cascades National Park, but also some hikes and views in the wilderness areas that surround the park.
For more information on specific places, read below.
Picket Range: The western United States was violently assembled through collisions between drifting rock masses and the North American continent, forming jumbles of mountains which in time eroded away. In the last 40 million years, the subduction of heavier oceanic crust pushed the North Cascades upwards once again, exposing in peaks and ridges the metamorphic rock formed in the intense heat and pressure of the ancient collisions. The Picket Range – the crown jewel of the North Cascades (in my opinion) – is carved from this hard crystalline backbone; resistant to erosion, they persist as the steepest peaks.
Here we see depicted my friend Obadiah Reid contemplating the burliness of the Southern Pickets (from left to right: McMillan Spires, Inspiration, Pyramid, Degenhardt, and Terror) from above Picket Pass in North Cascades National Park.
A tale of two camps: Left – My friend Nathan Rice reads (the instruction leaflet for Ibuprofen…) at the Terror Basin High Camp, enroute to scramble the West Ridge of West McMillan Spire (the obvious right-leaning ridge above his head) in the Southern Pickets, North Cascades National Park. On the right – Enjoying frontcountry hospitality in my parents’ Volkswagen Eurovan at the Mineral Park Campground along the Cascade River in Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest.