…i am an inexperienced hiker.

Lots of pictures, two bears, delicious MREs, and picturesque mountain trails.

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There were two mistakes that my father and I made on our three day backpacking trip in the North Cascades.  The first happened before we even started – we didn’t really prepare physically.  I would say that we’re both in pretty good shape, but we never took the day hikes that we had planned to break in our boots and get ourselves warmed up.  As a true procrastinator I bought my boots a couple of days before we left and barely got to know them.

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The second mistake was one of confidence, but not totally in our control.  When we got to the ranger station to collect our back country permit and reserve our camping sites, which are first-come-first-serve, we found that our first choice was full, and we had to settle for one that was a little further than we had planned on traveling the first day.  Our first stop was to be 14 miles down the trail at Bridge Creek Campground.

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I’ve been on several long marches in the Army, with about as much weight, but usually on roads or more well defined trails.  Despite the distance that first day was amazing and afforded me many opportunities for my main objective of exercising my photography skills.

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We started at around 10:30 am so our pace needed to be pretty quick in order to cover the distance before dark.  The yellow path is our first day of about 13-14 miles, the blue was our second day of around 4, and the third day, shown in red, we traveled by bus from High Bridge Campground to the small town of Stehekin on the northern shore of Lake Chelan.

Download this .kmz file if you want to check out the route in Google Earth.

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Bridge Creek CG was the largest of the campsites we saw on our trip.  At one point it was accessible by road from Stehekin, but the road has been washed out for years and the only way to reach it now is the trail.  We found several segregated tent spots with fire pits and cooking grates, and there was even an outhouse.  We were exhausted, hungry, and unbeaten when we arrived at 8:30pm.

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The next day we were punished for our ambitious first day, but luckily our next campsites was only 4 miles away so although we were hurting we didn’t have much trouble making it to High Bridge.  On the way we saw our first bear in the wild, but I didn’t really get a good shot of it with my camera.  He was walking towards me along the trail, but he didn’t notice me so I backed up.  He was about the size of a really large dog, much smaller than I pictured a brown bear would be.  We made some noise and he spotted us, but he didn’t really seem like he was in too big a of a hurry to get out of our way.  After a couple minutes he moved into the trees and we walked on past him..

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High Bridge was a decent campsite as well, but it didn’t have any shade and the sun was in full force.  We spent most of that 2nd day hanging out, waiting for the sun to go down.

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Our campsite was pretty much the furthest north one can travel by car from Stehekin, and there is a shuttle bus that runs from there to the town 4 times a day.  While we were waiting to board the 9:00am bus we got our second bear sighting, this time much closer.

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He wasn’t very large and he quickly passed us by and took off across the bridge and back into the woods.

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Our last campsite was a little crowded, but by far my favorite because of the gorgeous views of the north end of Chelan.  Because we took the bus we pretty much had all day to wander around and take pictures.

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This lucky bastard had a cabin on the very north end of the lake.

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The next day we boarded the later Lady of the Water and took off for Chelan.  It was a two and a half hour ride, but I couldn’t wait to see Jeannette and Matthew.

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The whole trip was very cool and I definitely learned quite a few things.  If you want to check out more of the pics in a little higher res follow the link to the gallery below.

Stehekin
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1 comment so far

  1. Sean on

    A truly awesome post, wish I could have come along. If you plan another trip give me plenty of notice! Looking foreword to the next post.


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