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North Cascades National Park, Washington State, USA

Contents | 5 minute read

Adventure
Road
Winthrop
Hiking
Summary

The Adventure of a Lifetime

 

North Cascades National Park has been a long-awaited (and much needed) adventure for me - not only because I'm a nature photographer - but because, despite living in Washington State my entire life, I've actually never been. In fact, there's a lot of Washington that I haven't seen yet. So after going online and booking two nights at a cozy little hotel called the River Run Inn, near the small western-themed town of Winthrop, the adventure was officially happening. Finally, I was going to a place that I've looked forward to visiting for several years now. I marked my calendar for Friday, July 28th, the day I would leave, and for the rest of the week I prepared myself for the journey-to-come. This was about to be the adventure of a lifetime.

 

 

 

 

 

Roadtrip

 

A few long weekdays of working behind the counter at my art gallery had passed and Friday was finally here. Sleeping in late isn't my go-to for a morning routine - especially when I have an 8 hr drive that day - but that's kind of what I did. That didn't matter though. I had to stop in Marysville to pick up 15 pairs of shoes for a product shoot anyways, so leaving too early would mean going through Marysville at the wrong time. Needless to say, my forethought ultimately proved itself fruitful. The time was now around 10 a.m. and that meant it was time to hit the road. I fueled up at a nearby gas station and started my 8 hr excursion from Long Beach, Washington destined for Winthrop.

 

After three hours of listening to music, driving through small towns, and weaving my way through lofty evergreens, the horizon eventually evolved into Seattle's city skyline. Traffic riddled the city as usual - zero surprise there. But little did I know, I was really in for it. Just north, in Everett, I inched along for what felt like several eternities at the pace a slug would call slow. Four p.m. rolled around and I was now in Marysville to pick up my product from Northside USA, an outdoor shoe company. I did just that and continued onto my adventure - mainly traffic-free by this time.

 

I finally reached highway 20, which spans the North Cascades from west to east (or east to west if you'd prefer). It didn't take long from there and I started seeing the glacial peaks I've been longing to see. I pulled over every now and again to "Oo" and "Ah" at the vast wilderness that defines the true Pacific Northwest. Staggering mountain peaks and rushing turquoise-colored rivers directed highway 20. Stepping out of my car, the crisp mountain air and the sound of birds chirping complimented the North Cascades. "I'm finally here" I thought to myself. I pulled over for many of the mountain tops I saw as photogenic, but it was getting later in the day and I had a hotel to check into. Weaving my way through highway 20, all the way through the North Cascades (now on the eastern side), I finally made it to Winthrop where I where I was staying. I checked into my hotel at around 9 p.m. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Winthrop

 

After a good nights rest, I woke up to 80º temperatures and lots of sunshine. With the light being overly bright for photos, I decided to spend the earlier portion of my day walking through Winthrop for the first time. It was a bustling Saturday in Winthrop. Old wooden walkways lined the storefronts in this little cowboy town. I poked in and out of every shop I could find - chatting it up with the welcoming locals while doing so. The locals recommended places to eat lunch, but I grabbed ice cream instead. After all, this is my vacation. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hiking

 

Now that I had seen all of Winthrop, it was time to head to the mountains to hike some trails. This was my only full day here so I had to make it count. I drove back to the park and immediately kept my eyes peeled for any appealing trailhead signs. After winding up, down, and in between mountains, I finally pulled over to start my first ever hike in the North Cascades. What better place to start than the Pacific Crest Trail? Okay, to be honest, I knew nothing about the trail at the time of hiking it. The trail was beautiful and that's all I needed to know. I prepared all of my necessities, tightened my boot laces, and got straight to hiking. 

 

 

The Pacific Crest Trail is 2,650 miles long, so I didn't hike the whole thing. However, that didn't stop me from getting a glimpse of its beauty. I witnessed birds of all sorts, including Clark's Nutcrackers. Between the sounds of flowing creeks and soft wind rustling the pines, I could hear the occasional Barred Owls hoot back and forth in the distance. Cold mountain creeks cut across the path in certain areas - pooling up and allowing me to cool my face and arms. Tall spacious forests shaded the trail - opening up only every so often to reveal the summit of a mountain. Captivated by this, I set ahead a plan to take photos on the way back - when the lighting would be more workable. I journeyed up the trail for a couple more hours. 

 

The time was now around 5 p.m. and that is when I decided to start my trek back towards the parking lot. After zig-zagging back down the trail, I once again crossed paths with the mountain peak that had previously "captivated" me on the way up. I took in the view for a bit, but I had a tripod to grab from my car, so I continued on. After making it to my car, I grabbed my tripod and made my journey back up the trail. The stage was now set and I was ready for the shot that would define my trip.

 

 

 

 

Lights, camera, action!

 

I could still hear the Clark's Nutcrackers pestering one another upon the treetops. The air was still pleasantly warm. The sunset, however, was more of a bland, colorless scene (thanks to the now overcast skies). Regardless, I set my tripod and camera up to my desired composition. "Click", I took the photo.

 

Upon viewing this image, immerse yourself in the serene beauty; feel the slight breeze of warm air & take in the sounds of rushing water. Imagine the smell of the pine forest surrounding you, and most importantly, take in the view.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Summary

 

North Cascades National Park was quite the experience. If I hadn't gotten a flat tire on my way back and been forced to drive 6 hours on a spare, I'd say it was the perfect experience. I highly recommend checking the place out. Walk the trails, check out Winthrop, and have fun!

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