Retro Trip – The Cascades, 2001


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.







16 thoughts on “Retro Trip – The Cascades, 2001

  1. “We did actually go back again a couple of years later and do more.”
    So we can expect to find out about those the next time it rains?
    Those paths look really steep!


    1. Actually, I’ve already scanned some piccies in from an Oregon backpack for the next rainy day……
      And as for the steep paths, I do distinctly remember Geoff moaning like I don’t know what, as we started to ascend the third pass 😀


      1. Three passes. They weren’t all in the same day were they? TBH and I had a day like that once in the Pyrenees. I think we did 2400m of ascent. She wasn’t entirely thrilled.


          1. My parents made the same mistake when we all started going (us as young kids) to the Lakes for walking holidays. We used to back-pack between hostels and they used to look at a shortish looking route on a map and book the hostels either side… they hadn’t realised how much ascent and descent was included in the walks for some reason on our first season there.


  2. Always wanted to backpack in the states, done a bit of walking there including an ascent of Half Dome. I’ve always thought of doing a retro-post but I have enough trouble keeping up to date with the current ones! My missus has started posting a few dated images on Facebook – I had hair in those days


  3. I’m the other way around – I’ve got a couple of short but interesting/amusing tales to tell but need to go back and get some photos as I don’t have any of the areas in question.

    That looks nice walking. I keep thinking I should have gone more places than done all my Munroing etc. in Scotland – I should have gone abroad more. But I’ve probably left it way too late to do that kind of thing now. Love the idea of going for a long trek in that area with horses and tents though 🙂


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