October 30, 2014

10/8/14 - North Cascades NP

It’s interesting how people will go all over the place to play tourist but ignore the tourist attractions in their own backyard.  North Cascades National Park is only about 100 miles from our house.  The whole Cascade Loop is about 400 miles of some of the prettiest and most rugged scenery in the states.  We've been on most of it at one time or another, just passing through.  Highway 20 goes right through North Cascades National Park, but we’d never stopped at the Visitor Center.  

We headed east at Burlington, through a bunch of little towns along the Skagit River:  Sedro-Wooley (fun name), Concrete, Rockport, Marblemount, then on to Newhalem, and the park Visitor Center.  Since it looks like a big lodge (or a national park visitor center), it’s right at home among the trees and mountains.
They, of course, have a video and a bunch of exhibits.  We partook.  Behind the lodge is a big patio where we had lunch before we took the short (300 feet defines short!) Sterling Munro Trail.  It’s just a boardwalk through the woods with a surprising view of the Picket Range at the end, although I suppose I wouldn't have been surprised if I'd read the information sign.
Those mountains are only 10 miles away, but there are no trails up there. It’s October—but that’s not new snow, that’s one of the many glaciers in this park.  When it comes to mountains, I like the jagged slopes and sharp peaks of the Cascades.  As I tried to tell that guy on the Blue Ridge Parkway near the Great Smoky Mountains, OUR mountains are taller, more rugged, prettier--and newer.
Ross Lake National Recreation Area bisects the park along the Skagit River and north around Ross Lake to Canada.  On the map the NRA part is a little brighter shade of green between the paler green of the NP.  I’m not sure if it’s truly an overlap, or if they’re separate government properties.  Either way, sounds a bit like overkill to me.  George got two passport stamps for the price of one. 

We parked at the Gorge Overlook and took another short walk to see the gorge and dam.  Check out the color of the water--that's not a filter on my camera.
Back at the highway, we crossed the road to cross the creek to see the waterfall. 
Diablo Lake is an amazing color.  I thought the first time I saw it that the bright color was because the water so cold, but that’s not what the sign says.  (If you can't read it, it says the color comes from "rock flour" created by glaciers is suspended in the water and reacts with light.)
You can learn a lot of geology at national parks.  Classrooms are better than in any science class I ever took.

Diablo Dam is run by Seattle City Light, and there are tours of the dam and ferries on the lake in the summer.  Since it’s October, you know the rest...
We did a little backtrack to take the turnoff and crossed the dam to the other side of the lake.  I liked driving on the dam.
They were doing some roadwork farther east so we opted to do the rest of the park another day (another season).  I want pictures from the Washington Pass Overlook, and I know we’ll be back again. 
There night be a few more pictures on Flickr, but I think I used most of them in the blog. Sometimes I get greedy that way. North Cascades Natl Park