Ross Lake to Sedro Woolley

Aug 17

I was awoken to my man packing up before 7am. I always pack the day before leaving town, but he enjoys relaxing all day. He was making so much noise as I finally told him to go take a shower and let me sleep. One of our only struggles in this relationship is he is a morning person and I’m not. I think we can handle it! 😉We grabbed some breakfast at the hotel then finished packing while watching our favorite trail show, Impractical Jokers.

We were concerned about the 52 mile hitch out of town. It took us almost four hours to get into town. We walked about a mile through downtown crossing a bridge. We stood in the shade on the side of the road and put out our thumbs. As the first car turned the corner, he said this is our ride. Surprisingly, the white van stopped and told us she was heading to Mazama which would get us up the highway part of the way. I sat in the front and chatted with her. Her two children a 3 year old boy and infant daughter rode in the middle while Paperweight rode in the third row. This is only my second hitch with kids in the car. She was a lovely person. She dropped us off and within 5 minutes we were chatting with David back to the trailhead. He was another interesting person. He currently lives in a tiny home he built with his wife. He is the father to two kids and was off for a few nights to go on a group backpacking trip including zen meditation. It was easy conversation and before noon we were back at the trailhead with 13 miles to hike.

We followed the Happy Panther Trail below highway 20. I enjoyed a turkey sandwich for lunch before we headed down the trail. To our left is Ross Lake which we are still walking along. Across the water, we could see Ross Lake Resort which are floating cabin rentals. We followed a gravel road until the trail turned right to cross the dam. Some flat concrete walking as we checking out the dam and the huge mountains to our left. The North Cascades are waiting for us. The trail led uphill until we took the junction to Ross Lake Resort dropping us back down 200 feet to the water. It’s $150 a night and you must book over a year in advance to stay here. It was a neat place with separate cabins floating on logs to be rented. We checked out the store and each had a cold soda while munching on licorice. It was nice sitting at a table under an umbrella watching boats comes in and enjoying the view. Two military jets flew overhead as well. It was a peaceful break, but we had 5 more miles to go to our campsite.<<<<<
ail wandered uphill again mostly in the trees with the lake always to our right. We crossed a few bridges. One was over a large waterfall and another had a strong steel bridge. This trail has had some beautiful bridges as I even got to eat a few thimble berries. We took a side trail to the Big Beaver Campsite which was about half a mile off trail. You must reserve campsites in advance, but it is free to camp in Ross Lake Recreation area as well as the North Cascades. Arriving at 6 to a mostly boat in campsite found us in between two sites, but with a view of Jack Mountain and a waterfall fed by snowmelt water. A group of 3 adults and maybe a dozen kids were to our left. This campsite has a boat dock and most of the campers did not walk here. We set up on a site and enjoyed our dinner on the ground since we did not have a picnic table like all the other sites for some reason. He packed out some Fireball whiskey so we sat drinking and talking until the sun set. I love days like today. We met kind people who drove us back to our trail, we relaxed at an expensive resort, and camped on the lake admiring a huge peak with a waterfall. ❤️ Aug 18

Before 6, the kids at the campsite next to us were packing up. I slowly made the moves to pack up and we succeeded at being on trail before 7. The hiking most of the day would be rolling, but overall easy. In the morning, we were among the giant Cedars. Our guidebook said that some were over 1,000 years old. The highlight was a large owl flying by and perching in one of the branches. It moved its head about checking us out for some time before we left. We also encountered many large frogs and slugs. The bugs are back as well unfortunately. I managed to fall down pretty hard this morning as well. I just tripped scrapping up my knee. We listened to our Podcasts and ate some berries towards our lunch spot. We stopped at a nice footbridge for a break. Thirty minutes in we hear some rocks falling and one fell down onto the bridge. We wondered if the trail switch backed above us or if a critter knocked them down. Five minutes later he exclaimed BEAR. A black bear was above the trail across the bridge and seemed to be coming down towards the water. I suddenly saw the baby behind her and we made some noise. She looked at us then ate some more berries slowly dropping down. She didn’t run and had no plan to. So we packed up quickly and watched until they disappeared out of sight possible farther down trail. We climbed uphill for a few minutes before finishing our lunch break. The mama bear could of cared less about us as we joked how she is a National Park bear.

We climbed uphill towards Beaver Pass where there is an emergency shelter on top. We had a few nice glimpses of the big mountains around us covered in snow and glaciers. Today we stay low not climbing over 3,600. We came to an option to do 2 miles along the trail or take a shortcut through a campground which is recommended. At first, we found ourselves having to ford strong Glacier melt water. Our guidebook said there was a cut log across it. We backtracked after spending some time searching for it. We found the spot as we each got a bit nervous. A huge tree had been cut and crossed high above the water. With pure focus, I moved slowly across hoping not to fall. It was such a tall tree. We joined a trail before coming to a few options. We walked along another tree before I dropped down to the water. He did a log step down to another one since our log rotted out at the end. He had to help pull me up to the trail. We cut 1.5 miles, but it was a bit terrifying. The last hour was spent walking along the stream towards Twin Rocks Campsite. We were set up and cooking dinner by 6. It was another good day of hiking surrounded by old growth trees and brought my bear total to 8.

Aug 19

Today is another favorite day along the PNT. We began hiking upwards toward Whatcom Glacier and Whatcom Pass. The higher we climbed the more waterfalls were evident. It was a stunning hike. The guidebook said we would climb 1,700 feet in a little under a mile.

I tuned into some music and moved uphill. There were some tight switchbacks, but I’m feeling strong these days. The trail was nicely maintained and recently trimmed. The pass was pleasant as we then dipped back down with even better views on the other side. We would leap frog 5 male hikers from here on. We took a nice break at a flowing waterfall enjoying the glacier views.switchbacks The downhill always is rough on the knees. We took our time and ate some berries. The highlight of the trip so far is a cable car ride over the Chilliwack River. We both put our gear inside then climbed in. It is a metal cable car with two places to sit across from each other. You then must pull yourself high above the river to the other side. We shared a lot of laughs and my arms got sore. We took a break half way through to take a video. I’ve never rode in a cable car before and looking down below it didn’t seem necessary. There was a horse ford much lower that you can take, but you have to experience a cable car ride at least once in your life. I’m sure in spring the river is raging. We climbed down from the platform back to the forest floor. We took lunch at a stream where we let our feet dry out.

The next task for the afternoon was to climb Hannegan Pass. We both listened to podcasts as we continued uphill for miles. The trail was nicely made and smooth hiking. This type of hiking reminds me of PCT days. I really enjoyed this climb and the entire day to be exact. We walked together the rest of the day admiring Ruth Mountain and the large glacier on the peak. We love the Nooksack Range! We spent a few miles discussing living in Washington someday. I find this state has everything you could ask for. I would love having these parks in my backyard. We made it to the trailhead parking lot in search of a campsite. The lot was full of cars and we found a flat spot near a picnic table. I rinsed off my legs at the stream while filtering water. We were able to throw away trash as well. We enjoyed dinner at our picnic table as a couple from Canada searched for their campsite. They finally asked if they could join us. They sat up nearby instead of one the other three sites. He did ask lots of question as to what we were doing, why we didn’t have a car, and where had we come from. He must of thought we were crazy as he offered us a flashlight since we were sitting in the dark at the table. We headed into our tent getting some rest after a gorgeous day of hiking. Aug 20

We walked along the dirt Ruth Creek Road that led to the main paved road. A couple stopped to ask if we needed a ride, but we declined saying that we had to walk. I don’t mind forest roads with minimal traffic over paved ones. We heard what sounded like a bear off the trail eating berries, but we couldn’t see him. We began attempting to hitch into Glacier. It took some time, but a nice woman offered us a ride. She would of taken us all the way into Bellingham if we wanted to. We stopped in Glacier to check out the store before deciding to go into Maple Falls where they have a better selection. We enjoyed our ride and did a quick resupply at a small grocery store in town. The one new restaurant in town isn’t open yet so it was back towards Glacier to grab some lunch. It took four cars for a truck with 3 young guys and a dog to stop. They drove us to the Chair 9 Restaurant in Glacier. They were out exploring and one of them was raised in Maine. It was another good ride as they dropped us off at the restaurant’s door. The food was decent, but way overpriced for the quality. We did enjoy the time resting in a booth, playing on wifi, and charging our phones. It did fill up our bellies too. We hitched out to the right of the restaurant waiting patiently until a friendly Canadian man rescued us. He compared our trails to his saying there just aren’t as many people in Canada for them to build bridges or maintain trails. He loves hiking in this area often, but highly recommends we check out a few spots in Canada. He would of drove us up the next part of trail, but we need to continue connecting our footsteps.

We began a paved road walk on Highway 542 for the next 8 miles. The road is curvy and all uphill leading towards the ski resort. We walked quickly and carefully. The shoulder was small and lots of people shook their fists at us while others waved. I love watching the people hanging on for dear life around the curves. We climbed out of the trees and high enough to see sweeping views of the snowy covered peaks. The walk was beautiful as I understood why so many people drive it. We found ourselves nearing the top with a sign saying a small restaurant is open. This was a treat. It’s the first time that they have opened it during the summer season. We each had a $3 Gatorade and shared a pint of strawberry ice cream. I even charged my phone and rehydrated after the fast 8 mile walk uphill. We checked out the ski map before heading on. This type of skiing is so different then the East coast. We joined the Wild Goose trail for 1 mile. It had large rock steps as we joked the road would of been much quicker. We climbed higher and higher looking down at lakes and the Kulshan Range. We came to Austin Pass where we began a downhill reprieve. It was getting late in the evening as we began hiking a trail for the first time of the day named Lake Ann Trail. What a gorgeous hike with more stunning views and no sounds of trail. Our trail turned to the right onto Swift Creek Trail. Our trail was not nicely groomed as our feet were getting wet from the melting snow. It was just us again walking this trail. We were searching for a nice campsite along the trail. We ended up going much farther downhill then we had planned. I wanted a campsite with a mountain view for tonight, but you can’t always get what you want. It was beginning to get dark and I was worried we weren’t going to find anything. Luckily around one of the curves, we found a perfect site as darkness closed in. Aug 21

Today we had a lot to look forward to. Our morning was mostly downhill towards a river. It is so peaceful in this area. We are fairly close to roads, but no one hikes this part of the PNT unless you are thru hiking. We came to Swift Creek and the infamous ford. I heard of this ford at the early stages of planning my hike. It can be impassible for most of the season. The old bridge was washed out many years ago. Other hikers this season had to turn back. I put on my trusty crocs and slowly crossed the chilly water. The water was us to high thigh. The rocky bottom was slip so I moved carefully. We took a nice break on the other side letting our feet warm up. At this very moment, the solar eclipse was beginning. The temperature quickly dropped and the sunlight slowly disappeared. It was a once in a lifetime experience. Sitting along a river as the eclipse happened. Our feet got very chilly quickly. After the sun returned, we laced up our shoes and continued onward. The trail led us to an old decommissioned forest road. We passed by a dirty diaper as I realized we must be close to a paved road. We had an option to visit Baker Hot Spring, but we choose to stick with the Baker Lake Loop trail. The other option would of allowed us to cut many miles. We were told how beautiful the loop trail is and of the big cedar trees in that area. So we decided to do the longer route which is also the official trail. A paved road quickly turned to a dirt road. We passed lots of people set up along the water camping out. A few cars passed as well. There is also a Campground along the road. The strangest part was an abandoned BMW with busted windows next to the road. We took a break at the trailhead parking lot for lunch. We took advantage of the privy and trash cans. We began walking along the trail. We walked past many large cedars during this section. Some of the biggest trees I have ever seen. They tell such a story and I like to imagine the thousands of people who have walked by them or lived among them many years ago. Do you ever wonder how many other people have enjoyed that same view of traveled the same footsteps you have? This thought and wonder often arises on my thru hikes. Also, I wonder if I will set foot here again or maybe the next generations of my family will. We crossed a huge bridge over a large river and continued hiking along Baker Lake. Our maps appeared to have the trail right along the lake, but the trail was above it most of the way with little access to the water for a quick swim like I had hoped for. The trail also had some ups and downs unlike the map. We enjoyed the serenity and views back at Mount Baker. We came to the first campsite to find a father and young daughter who didn’t seem to want company. So we continued along the trail. We are both drained physically as we dragged onward looking for a little spot to set up our tent. 4 long miles later we found a trail that dipped down to a campsite with a fire pit and bench. We watched the sky change colors and bonfires across the lake flicker. We sat outside as the sky got dark cooking dinner staring out at the lake. It was a long day of 25 ish miles. I enjoyed listening to the sound of water splashing on the banks. Aug 22

I have not been sleeping well since we left Winthrop. I think my body wants a bed with pillows over an air pad. I want desperately to sleep through the night, but I toss and turn waking him up. When we both lack sleep, we have a hard time getting started in the morning. Usually, I sleep very well on trail. We got a late start and continued on the Baker Lake Loop. The last few miles were beautiful as well with lots of gorgeous campsites. I’d hike in to this spots again for sure. Too bad I never got to dip into the lake this time.

We came to the trailhead parking lot to feast and throw trash away. Yes! I get excited about trash cans. We crossed Upper Baker Dam and stopped at a Campground entrance to use their bathrooms. We also filled up on water. We had a long debate at this point. We could continue on the official trail or take an alternate road walk that would lead to a rail trail. We have been debating these options since we began the trail. I still debate if we made the right decision. Taking the alternate skips Park Butte which has a lookout that is first come. We would be arriving on a weekend late in the day. This option would also led to active logging roads. So we decided to do the road walk with the promise of returning someday to camp at Park Butte.

So we walked for miles along a paved road listening to podcasts. The road wasn’t too busy, but I still had to turn off my podcast as cars zipped by. We ate lots of blackberries along the way. We were shocked when a car stopped and a woman said our trail names. She offered us a ride, but the hikers she was with earlier knew we wouldn’t accept it. One of the hikers we met on the CDT and the other I met on the PCT. We got excited that they might be near us, but we never would see them. She gave us a cold drink as we continued down the road. Nothing too exciting today. Paperweight did have to go a little bushwhack off the paved road to access some water for us. We looked for campsites off the road to find evidence of a homeless community so we choose not to camp here. There were marks on guardrails that led to nice sites that were littered with garbage. So we made it almost to the rail trail. We were forced to stay at a Campground since it was our only safe option. We paid $20. I enjoyed a nice warm shower and was happy I had packed out a small shampoo. We played with a cat as we planned out the next section at a warped picnic table.

Aug 23

We awoke early with hopes to get into Sedro Woolley for lunch time. We walked the paved road for under a mile before joining the rail trail in the town of Birdsview. The trail was pleasant walking past cute homes and a few small businesses. The best part was the delicious blackberries. The benches to rest on were also a plus. The temperatures rose quickly since we were at a low elevation and I was drenched in sweat. We took our last break at a bench overlooking farmland. A man was working the field on his tractor. It was such a pleasant morning hike along the rail trail. We passed by a large river with hills that had been recently cut. We made our way into the big town of Sedro Woolley after 17 miles of walking. We found ourselves at a hotel around one. Since we had showered yesterday our next stop was lunch. We walked out our door and a few steps into a Mexican restaurant which hit the spot. We did our town chores of showering, laundry, cleaning gear, organizing maps, and relaxing. We still had extra food since we cut off a day or more by doing the rail trail.

Paperweight’s former colleague who lives nearby came to pick us up. Nicky drove us to a neat restaurant called Train Wreck Bar and Grill in Burlington. We sat in the back and they have huge garage doors that open. The train comes zipping by every so often. We had a wonderful dinner as she shared her adventures. She works as a traveling OT and loves to go hiking as well. She treated us to dinner and I hope we cross paths again.

After she dropped us off, we watched tv late in the evening while munching on our left overs. It felt wonderful to have a comfy bed, pillow, and air conditioning tonight.