The Northern Cascades National Park is one of the lesser visited national parks. To get to it, you need to hike to it. The borders and wilderness areas that carve up the mountain range present artificial borders can’t hide the majesty of the this mountain range. Like frothing white teeth gnawing at the sky this jagged mountain range boasts the highest concentration of glaciers in the contiguous USA.
Along the Thunder Creek Trail, at every glimpse through the forest canopy I saw snowy mountaintops, crags, and steep tree covered slopes. Each slope boasted a mix of waterfalls and avalanche scars in different stages of recovery.
As I was early in the season the trail had been mostly cleared up until the snowline. At Tricouni camp the trail ascended steeply to Junction where the trail split. Most people continued on to Thunder Basin, I instead followed Fisher Creek to the upper Fisher Creek Basin. According to the ranger station, the trail crew cleared the Fisher Creek trail to Coho Camp, just two weeks ago.
I counted two dozen down trees, one trail washout, and two newly constructed log bridges, and one avalanche area that needed to be cleared. Amazingly, the trail crew clears a way for people like me every season. While exploring the forest around a campsite I found an unopened bottle of Whisky. I thought for a moment about pouring it out and taking the bottle back. However, it had clearly been cached, and even though I support many of the National Park goals, I was also mindful of the boots on the ground that made experiences like mine possible. I left it in its place, as someone worked a lot harder than I did and in much rougher conditions — a little whisky isn’t the worst thing that could be done while on the trail.
Even though I first on parts of the trail this season, I was clearly not first to be in the area. I spent some time at Avalanche cabin. This cabin was built by trappers in the early 1900s. There was a metal frame for a bed and fork, spoon, and can opener in a tin, as well as some other odds and ends. Trappers, walked 40 miles over the mountains from Newhalem to this valley. I struggled with my pack and relatively clear trails and it was hard for me to imagine the journey made by trappers in winter.
After a journey up Fisher Creek, I tried to to up Thunder Creek basin to Easy Pass, but I was just tired. So I camped at Skagit Queen. I met few hikers on the trail this far up the valley. Most were mountaineers who told me of the various peaks that they summited.