Cascade Mountain Tech News
I’ve officially fallen in love with mountaineering.
I'm no pro by any means, but I hope by sharing some of the things I've learned in my PNW mountaineering adventures, it might help someone else get a little closer to standing on their first alpine summit.
What mountaineering adventures do you have planned coming up? Leave us a comment below!
This summer I had my eye on backpacking the High Sierra Trail from Sequoia National Park to Precipice Lake and back, a journey totaling in 38+ miles. It had been under snow for most of the summer and there had been trail damage due to a heavy winter, but as soon as the trails were clear, I got a 3-day backpacking trip on the books.
“Let’s go for a hike!” is a declaration my kids usually don’t want to hear. They’ve been drug out on hikes and marched down trails since our twins were 10 weeks old (Washington’s Lake Lillian hike was their first ascent, although they hitched a ride up the mountain snuggled firmly in a baby carrier). You’d think that eight years of hiking expeditions would have taught them the lesson that though these trips initially sound like a lot of work for little legs, they will enjoy themselves thoroughly. They may have hundreds of trail miles under their belt, but pre-hike griping seems to come naturally. Our destination was Mason Lake, a pretty little hike just off the I-90 corridor that switches back and forth up and away from the valley and over the ridge to a little mountain lake that gets just enough sun all summer to make it tolerable for a swim on a hot day after the ascent. The round trip is 6.5 miles in total.
Climbing old growth root ladders to the top of a misty mountain is a quintessential Vancouver Island hiking experience. Spending the night in a cozy, heated, and well-lit hut at the top of that mountain adds a definite something. It makes you feel a bit guilty writing about it because, while the newly-opened 5040 Peak Hut is no secret, it’s special and hopefully will be respectfully preserved for a long time. The hut is accessed via the Cobalt Lake Trail, a steep climb through old-growth and alpine, not far from Port Alberni, in the traditional territory of the Nuu-Chah-Nulth First Nations. The hike is not for the faint of heart—literally, you climb and climb and climb—and you’ll need a 4x4 to get to it via Marion Creek Forest Service Road. The hard work pays off though as you hike alongside rushing waterfalls, the small and incredibly clear Cobalt Lake, and up to the top of the peak, about another hour’s climb past the hut.
Mondays are for the mountains…
As my wife and I make the transition back to life in the Pacific Northwest after a handful of years in Nashville, we made the decision to dedicate our Mondays to the mountains. After all, the Cascade Mountain Range was the leading reason for us to move back to Washington State. It only took a few years away from these great mountains to realize exactly how much they really meant to us, so this time around we are committed to spending even more time in and around these majestic peaks.
Still half asleep, we sipped our warm coffees watching the fluorescent rainbow expand over the mountains. It was a chilly, cloudy morning, but Kaitlin and I were determined to get an early start on our day. This easily may have been the most beautiful sunrise I had ever seen. I enjoyed that it took patience; though we arrived just before sunrise, we had to wait for the sun to move up over the adjacent ridgeline before it began illuminating the mountains around Lake Louise.
I can remember once staring at the vast beauty of Glacier Peak from high in the North Cascades, thinking how phenomenal it would be to see it from up close. Fast-forward to the present day. I returned home to Seattle after traveling in Southeast Asia for almost two years. I was dying to get back into the forests of the Pacific Northwest and my longing for an adventure to Glacier Peak had only gotten stronger.
In my latest quest to explore more national parks, I recently had a weekend adventure in Kings Canyon and Sequoia National Parks. I frequently visit Joshua Tree, and I had visited Zion National Park a few weeks prior, so I was looking forward to heading somewhere that was a little more mountainous and that offered some bouldering and steep hikes with a good amount of elevation gain. These parks delivered.