Pasayten Hike 2008

One of the most memorable experiences of my childhood was a 120-mile hike I took with my dad when I was fifteen. We started on the shores of Ross Lake, on the western slope of the north Cascades in Washington and hiked eleven days, across the Pacific crest, and east into the Pasayten Wilderness, the largest wilderness area in the lower 48 states. Even though we nearly ran out of food and had to walk an additional 20 miles down a deserted highway at the end of the hike before we could catch a ride to the bus station in Omak, it was an amazing experience. Here’s the one photo I have from the trip. I don’t think we even brought a camera; the picture was snapped by Dad’s cousin as he dropped us off on the East Shore trail.

Don’t laugh — those velour shorts were the height of fashion back in 1982!

I thought it would be fun to repeat the trip with Nora, now that she’s the same age as I was when I did the hike. However, we had to make a few changes in the itinerary. Several of the trails Dad and I took 26 years ago were impassable due to recent fires and windstorms, so the closest approximation of the route was a 90- mile trip. We also didn’t want to have to hitch a ride at the end, so we got my sister to help us deposit a car where we would finish, at Hart’s pass, and then drive us to the trailhead in Eastern Washington, where Dad and I had finished our first hike. Here’s the picture Lisa snapped of us as we set off:

I wonder what Nora’s son or daughter will think of this photo 26 years from now!

The hike started in what would become a theme for us: a burnt-out forest. At least it afforded good views of the surrounding forest:

As you can see, it was a gorgeous sunny day:

After a few miles we arrived in the beautiful, expansive Horseshoe Basin:

At seven thousand feet, our campsite was chilly and a little buggy. This shot should give you some sense of our living conditions over the next week.

The “bench” Nora is sitting on is a luxury: relatively flat, and almost actual chair-height.

The next day was as beautiful as the first, and we headed off quickly. Here’s Nora below an interesting rock formation:

And here’s an “art shot” of the same formation after we had passed beneath it:

Lunch was summer sausage, cheese, and rolls, consumed hastily sitting on the rocks while swatting flies away.

We camped near an old Tungsten mine in a luxurious campsite that even had an outhouse — the only one we’d see on our trip. The next day was bright and glorious again, but we were already sunburned, so we slathered on the sunscreen and pressed on, arriving at Cathedral Peak before noon:

Here’s Nora’s perspective on this massive rock spire:

And here we are at Cathedral pass, between Cathedral Peak and Amphitheater Mountain. This was the highest altitude we reached on the hike — about 7,600 feet.

It was still incredibly buggy here, and we didn’t stay long, hiking quickly down to Cathedral Lake. The waters were frigid, but we were determined to go for a swim and wash off two days’ worth of grime, sunscreen, and Deet. Here’s Nora summoning up the courage to dunk her head under the icy waters. Clicking on the image will bring up a movie of the actual dunk.

On the way down from Cathedral Lake we ran into a little snow. I took the opportunity to cool off my index finger.

Here’s another picture Nora took of Cathedral Peak, one of the most beautiful sights on our trip.

This was a little reflecting pond a short way down the trail. I didn’t think this picture was going to work when I took it, but I guess it turned out all right.

This country was simply stunning. Too bad there were so many bugs! More coming soon….

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3 Responses to Pasayten Hike 2008

  1. Freiddie says:

    Excellent photos, again!

  2. Freiddie says:

    Sorry to double-post, but I keep forgetting to mention that your comments form always returns an error after submission, even though the comment is posted successfully. Something like “‘foo’ is an invalid regex string!”. I’m using FF3.

  3. dave says:


    I’m not sure what the problem is — I never see it myself when I comment. Glad your comments show up at least!


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