Adventuring Solo: The Pacific Northwest Road Trip – Seattle and North Cascades

Right after my solo trip to the Pacific Northwest, I started my new job at Multivista. Due to this, I never had a chance to write about the amazing experience. Over the next couple of weeks, I’ll be rolling out a blog series on this expedition.

So, nearly five months later, here we are! Also to note, this was when Seattle was consumed by wildfire smoke so my first three days in the PNW were, sadly, very hazy.

The first day started bright and early with a sunrise take-off from Phoenix to Seattle. I’ve never been an early person but when it comes to traveling, I make sure to get the most of my adventure time (and these early flights are usually cheaper so frugal me approves).

On the way up, the pilot was the ultimate tour guide and made sure to do a circle around Mt. Rainier’s snowy peak to let us all take in the beauty.

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Taken from an airplane (duh)

 

Day 1 – The City

The first day was very low key compared to my usual road trips. I walked around the city, checked out a museum (have I become my dad?!) and went up to Kerry Park (a must visit with arguably the best views of the city).

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Seaplane landing on Lake Union.
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The gum wall near the Public Market

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Smoky view from Kerry Park

That evening, I took in a Seattle Mariners game which got me one step closer to a goal to visit all 30 baseball stadiums.

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Safeco Park

Day 2 – The Mountains Called

After being generously hosted by my friend Ben, I hopped on the train and went back to the airport to get my rental car. And off we went to North Cascades National Park.

I’ve talked about the power social media has on drawing people to amazing locations. Well, I’ll admit the photos I had seen from NCNP were phenomenal and thus, the mountains called so I came.

Less than three hours from Seattle, the Cascades are easy to access with tons of hiking, camping, and adventuring to be had.

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I had originally planned to hike to Hidden Lake Lookout which is about 25 minutes on a ‘meh’ road…. but botched it and missed the turn. Luckily, I knew the end of the road had a hike called Cascade Pass to Sahale Arm.

To Cascade Pass, about 3.5 miles up, you have to embark through three miles of a bug infested and humid forest. Don’t doddle or you will surely be eaten alive. I didn’t doddle and got through it all in less than an hour (for the new readers, don’t take my pace for normalcy).  I did however, smudge half of my camera lense so a lot of my photos have an ugly part to them.

But once out of the forest, the views were stunning. The jagged peaks. The snowy slopes. Just amazing.

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The view after you leave leave the forest
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Cascade Pass
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Cascade Pass

After getting some photos at the pass, I continued up the Sahale Arm section towards Sahale Glacier (where there’s a flat spot for camping…it’s by permit but I’d recommend it).

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The way up!
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Wildflowers were in full bloom.

The Glacier is about 6 miles up and 4,000 feet of elevation gain, but I didn’t make it all the way (but most of it). My calf started cramping up on the final uphill and I decided to call it a day on this beautiful ridge overlooking Doubtful Lake. It couldn’t have been more picturesque.

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The trail up to Sahale Glacier.
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Looking down on Doubtful Lake. The highest point I got to.
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The top and where the Glacier is. I finished up and to the right.

Considering I was the only person on this section of the mountain, it couldn’t have been a more peaceful experience and these are the moments I long for. No technology. No noise. Just being one with nature.

That evening, I tried to hammock by Diablo Lake, right next to Colonial Creek Campground, but after a couple hours of being uncomfortable, I headed back to the car for a much better night’s sleep. (Again, welcome to my solo road trip experience haha.)

Day 3 – Ross Lake

That morning, I headed up to Ross Lake to meet up with a group of UofA friends who just happened to have backpacking permits that weekend. Cell phone service was nonexistent but I knew where they would be so I hung out at the trailhead until they arrived.

The cool part about this backpacking trip was it was more of a glamping-backpack edition. We hiked maybe 1.25 miles downhill to Ross Lake, jumped on a boat, which then dropped us off about a mile from our camping spot.

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Boating on Ross Lake.

For someone who had just hiked 10+ miles the day before, I didn’t mind at all.

The campsite was this cute little spot that already had wooden stumps as chairs laid out giving us a cozy place to set up camp. We then did all the necessities – getting firewood, setting up tents/hammocks, etc, then, we had some grub and beers in celebration of what would be a great trip.

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Our campsite.
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We had a visitor to the campground.

Once the adult things were done around noon, we headed out. The lake was a half mile scamper away so we all jumped in and had a blast. It’s amazing to be around people when cell phones aren’t present. I feel that I learned more about these folks in two days than some people I’m around all the time.

Zach ended up finding a cliff we could jump off of so the men of the group did stupid male things and went cliff jumping. (The last time I went cliff jumping at slide rock in Sedona I basically tore my labrum so it was nice to leave this without any injuries.)

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The boys!
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Ross Lake. We cliff jumped just around the bend on the right.

After dinner, we all went back to the dock and laid out for a meteor shower which was gracing the PNW at this time. I saw a couple – probably missed a couple more but the fact we were all laying around, laughing, and looking at the sky was as good as it could get.

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The gang: Me, Austin, Jeff, Zach, Sophie, and Brittany (Left to Right) by Ross Lake

Both the hike amongst the jagged peaks of the Cascades and a backpacking trip with great people were the best way to kick off my solo road trip throughout the Pacific Northwest.

Once we all said our goodbyes, we packed up and headed back into the city with minds calm, muscles sore, but hearts content.

Stay tuned as we head to the other side of the state and then across the bay into Victoria, Canada!

Until next time adventurers, take care and be safe.

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