During every trip, there are places we look forward to seeing more than others. The North Cascades National Park was one of those spots we didn’t know much about, but had to cross it off the national park checklist, and we would be close enough to make it an easy stop (travel dates 7/19-7/21/2017). We hadn’t researched it much, so we didn’t really know what to expect, aside from the mysterious, misty rainforested lakes and creeks. Sometimes, the new places bring the most excitement, but this time, I think we were just looking for a couple days of peace before we headed into the busy city of Seattle and the long drive east.
We were pleasantly surprised by the most amazing campsite we had every seen. Newhalem Campground was our pick because the North Cascades Visitor Center was nearby. Our giant, secluded site was right along the river, covered in moss, with so much to enjoy for everyone. We could have just stayed in the campsite for the two nights we had here, except that we did really want to know all that the Cascades had to offer. We were so surprised that this amazing campground was one of the first we had seen all summer that was not filled to capacity.
As if this campsite was not enough, the kids thought they went to heaven when they discovered more banana slugs to play with!
Us adults took advantage of our happy kids by relaxing in the hammock and getting in a few games of “set.” Of course, Braden kicked our butts every time he stepped into the game. Eventually, we played a team of everyone versus Braden. I think the little squirt still won!
We learned back in Oregon not to pick up any more banana slugs after the girls were officially slimed and glued, but they were quite pleased with the little caterpillars here too.
At the Newhalem Visitor Center, the kids were sworn in as North Cascades junior rangers, and we learned that one of our first rains was in the forecast. The rangers told us that the west side of the park was expecting rain, but not the drier east side.
(yes, this is a giant banana slug from the visitor center)
We spent our first day here visiting the Trail of the Cedars, the town of Newhalem, and the dam by Ladder Creek Falls. The dam actually lights up the waterfall and trail each night for visitors to enjoy.
The next morning, we headed off to blue skies at the recommended hike on the east side of the Cascades. Indeed, it rained on the west side, but we managed to stay dry once again. The Blue Lake trail was beautiful, yet so different from the moist west side of the park.
The boys loved exploring the area around blue lake, so I took a little detour for them to show me their newly discovered side pond.
The girls and Chuck got a head start and managed to get some great shots with this mountain goat. Unfortunately, the boys and I missed it and caught up to them just as the goat headed up the mountain.
We couldn’t pass up the Happy Creek Forest Walk on the way back.
The kids got the biggest kick out of another side hike, one dubbed the last ‘dam’ hike. As we hiked down to the Ross Dam, we enjoyed seeing the walk in cabin area and talking to the border patrol officers. They informed us that the entire border had a line of trees cut to mark the border, and each time we crossed the border on the trip, this odd fact was confirmed. It was kind of creepy to be hiking along, and then suddenly stumble on border patrol officers hiking with all their big guns.
On the way back, my little pick pocket mastered her skill of getting my cell phone out of my zipped pocket and filling it with pictures of her own. Scary!
We stopped at the beautiful Diablo Lake on the way back, making a mental note that this area would need to be further explored the next time we come back.
One of the strangest parts about this park was the small towns right in the middle of the national park, and the town of Diablo was no exception. Who names their town Diablo anyway?! Once again, we were puzzled by the back of this pickup in the town campground.
Back at the campsite, the kids built the most intricate homes for their little animals. The boys snapped a ton of pictures so we could remember this amazing feat forever!