It was throwing it down outside this morning, so I started a little trip down memory lane looking at old photo albums. Remember those? I found a few more backpacking trips from the dim and distant past where the photos may scan in OK to make a half-decent post, so here’s one of them.
On this holiday in 2001, we flew into Seattle, stocked up on all sorts of outdoor goodies at REI, and then headed out into the North Cascades. A few day walks to settle in and help us through the jet lag and then a three day backpacking trip into the wilderness.
We’d got the route from an article in Backpacker Magazine a few months beforehand and very enjoyable it turned out to be. Luckily, I’d written some sketchy notes about our experiences on the trip in the photo album, so between those and my sketchy memories I’ve managed to put together the main details!
The trail head was quite a long way from the nearest town – Winthrop – involving driving miles up a tarmac road and then more miles up a dirt track. We parked up, then set off on the first day’s route.
Unlike somewhere like Yosemite, trail heads in the Cascades tend to be fairly low, altitude wise, so the first days out generally mean climbing, climbing and more climbing through trees, before you get to the scenic above tree-line stuff. This day was no exception. We followed a steep valley up-stream for 8 miles, in the rain, before reaching our first camp at West Oval Lake, in the Lake Chelan Sawtooth Wilderness.
There was already another small group there with a couple of tents, but it didn’t matter.
The temperature dropped to around freezing overnight and it was still a little chilly as we stirred the next morning.
We had three passes to cross on this second day and were pretty soon climbing again, finally getting above tree line as we approached Oval Pass.
In this next photo you can also see Oval Peak (8,795ft) in the background.
It was a bit of a pull up to the pass, but at least we were late enough in the season that there was no snow left.
Once on the top, the views were magnificent and the wind was Arctic! If you look carefully at this next photo, you can just make out the path down the far side of the pass, behind Geoff.
You could see down to Tuckaway Lake and Horseshoe Basin – our planned spot for lunch:
So, another steep path down, led us to a well-earned break.
And amazingly enough, once in Horseshoe Basin, we came across a family camping and trekking with their horses. It was like something straight out of a cowboy film!
We couldn’t linger in the sunshine too long though, as we needed to cross the basin and start ascending the second pass of the day, which unfortunately I can’t remember the name of.
Again, magnificent views from the top, both back towards Oval Pass,
and off to the West, where we could see Lake Chelan twinkling in the distance.
A second lunch was had here, whilst drinking in the scenery.
And still we couldn’t linger, with a few miles further to go before we reached our second camp.
Dropping down again, we crossed yet another valley,
before finally climbing up and over Eagle Pass (7,300ft) and picking up the Eagle Creek Trail.
And by mid afternoon, we’d found a lovely spot near the creek to pitch the tent.
This time, except for a curious mule deer wandering around, we were the only ones there for the night.
Once again, the third morning dawned crisp, bright and sunny, and it was just half a day’s wander back to the car, following the Eagle Creek valley all the way.