Cascade Pass is an extremely popular hike. The
parking lot fills up much of the summer, even though it requires a long
drive with much of it unpaved. The trailhead is at 3600'. The pass is a
worthy destination in it's own right. In fact, the parking lot view is worth
the drive. The sight of Mt. Johannesburg across the valley is stunning. However,
the best lies above. The Cascade Pass trail is very gently graded gaining
1800' in 3 1/2 miles. I seem to always see at least a few marmots by the
time I reach the pass. From the pass you can hike down the other side and
catch the bus to Stehekin on the shore of Lake Chelan. The real fun on this
trip starts after leaving the pass. The trail up Sahale Arm turns to the
north and begins climbing. The grade is much steeper than the route up to
the pass. One mile of climbing on meadow like terrain gains 800', topping
out on the crest of the Arm at 6200'. From here the summit of Sahale Peak
looms far above. Across the arm and below is Doubtful Lake. I have not yet
hiked down to the lake.
From the crest you can see the arm as it makes a long
rightward curve towards Sahale Peak. In season the wildflowers can be spectacular.
At this elevation trees thin and then disappear altogether. The higher you
go the better the views become. Johannesburg and Mix-Up peaks are to the
south. El Dorado and the peaks above Boston Basin loom to the Northwest. High
on the Arm very little grows. The terrain becomes very rocky. At the end
of the Arm there is a fairly flat rocky talus basin. From here the glacier
begins and runs up to the summit of Sahale Peak. This is my favorite place
to enjoy the views and have lunch. There are several tent sites on the rocks.
In fact, rock walls have been built to protect campsites from the wind. On
especially buggy days, this basin may be the only place to escape. The bugs
were so bad on my first trip up I didn't take a break until reaching this
spot. On my last trip there were no bugs at all. Timing is everything. If
you head far enough across the boulders to the east you may be able to see
Lake Chelan. I was very surprised that it was visible from this point.
The only way to go higher is by ascending the glacier
up Sahale Peak. This is not a place for day hikers. If you do not have experience
on a glacier, then just enjoy the view from here. The North Cascades are
spectacular. The end of Sahale Arm is one of the best places to view it.
Click on thumbnails to see larger pictures.
Angela And I
Photo Page 2