This year we knew we had to get our packs on and do a "shake down." The challenge was figuring out where to go. We originally wanted to get into the Mowich area of Mount Rainier. Unfortunately, while it has been an unusually warm spring, it hasn't been quite enough to melt out the higher elevations enough for a comfortable backpacking trip.
Thankfully we are lucky enough to have an amazing National Park right in our back yard. North Cascades National Park is about a 2 hour drive from where we live and has a huge variety of backcountry trails. We studied our map and some trip reports and finally decided to hike alongside Ross Lake on the East Bank Trail.
We got into camp around 4:30, which meant we had successfully covered 12.5 miles in about 6 hours. We had the campground to ourselves and were able to take the best campsite on a rocky outcrop overlooking the lake. There was also a well established fire pit for us to enjoy later.
By the time we got camp set up we were feeling pretty tired. The weather also took a slight turn for the worst, deciding to unleash a bit of rain and wind on us. We made a quick dinner and tucked into the tent early, with hopes of nicer weather for the morning.
Within a couple hours we made it to Lightning Creek Campground where we met a very nice couple and their dog, who had hiked in from the North end of the lake through Skagit Valley Provincial Park. We stayed and chatted for quite a while seeing as these were the first people we had seen in nearly 24 hours. Finally we decided to press on a little further, climbing up the bluff above Lightning Creek to get a great view of the lake.
While I cleaned up from our delicious dinner, Dan laid a fire. After two busy days of hiking it was great to enjoy the warmth and comfort of a roaring fire.
The next morning we were up around 7:30 to enjoy breakfast and strike camp. We hit the trail around 9 and were moving surprisingly well. We took a brief break again at Rainbow Point Campground to chat with another couple we had met along the trail. It's funny how easy it is to talk with fellow backpackers!
Back up and over Hidden Hand Pass and then a dreary last few miles along the river before making it to the car. Our time check surprised us - it was just after 2, which meant we had hiked out in around 5 hours, beating our Saturday time!