12 miles of hiking • 2000' elevation gain •
Spontaneous trip to the North Cascades in search of Larches. Teamed up with my friend from the Mazamas, Eric, leaving Portland Friday night around 7 pm. I highly recommend this late start - we were able to miss Seattle traffic and probably saved ourselves a good 1.5 to 2 hrs in driving time.
We arrived in Marblemount around midnight, and quickly set up camp @ Cascade Wagon Road campground. It was a chilly night, but after warming up some water in my nalgene - I was able to stay toasty warm in my tent. Eric opted to sleep in his car. The camp was busy throughout the night with large trucks driving in and out. In the morning I saw many people fishing, and others in hunting clothes. I was surprised at how busy it was.
In the am we stopped at the ranger station, as we wanted to inquire about trail conditions and a possible overnight. We arrived and discovered it was closed for the season. We were able to read up on conditions on a board outside of the station. Weather was supposed to turn at some point, so we opted for a dayhike instead of an overnight.
In search of larches, we headed to Cutthroat Pass.
The trail starts out gentle and is somewhat boring, but as soon as it opens up and starts gaining elevation the views really start to shine.
Being from the midwest, I have been missing seeing fall colors out here in the PNW. I was not disappointed in the vibrant display of color.
We hit the pass, and were amazed when we saw a few mountain bikers who had made it up there in the snow. The trail was icy in spots, we carried our microspikes but never actually used them. We went beyond the junction to the lake, and continued along the PCT. We eventually hit heavy snow (about a foot deep) and turned around. We decided to hit the high ground, and spent quite a while just taking in the sea of mountains in view.
Beautiful trail, and we quickly regretted our decision to make it a dayhike, as we didn't want to leave. I know we would have ended up hiking out in the rain had we stayed, but it would have been worth it to soak up those views for a few more hours.