Sunday, July 2, 2017

North Cascades, WA: Turquoise Waters and Stunning Mountain Views

The Lucky Charm next journeyed westward to North Cascades National Park, along a route from Winthrop to Marblemount that is the northernmost east-west road in Washington, and not terribly far from Canada, mate.  


 These amazing turquoise waters are unretouched in these photos -- they really are that shade!  Gasp-inducing, to say the least!


Many viewpoints along the way offer stunning views from above Diablo, Gorge and Ross Lakes. 
Earlier in the year, the color will be bluer.  Later in the summer, it will appear greener.


These mountains are home to more than 300 glaciers inside the park and over 600 throughout this ecosystem.  As with areas we visited in the Canadian Rockies last summer, the brilliant turquoise blue is caused by fine rock sediment called "glacial flour," basically rocks being ground down into dust and floating through the water and then refracting the light.


This watershed area has the highest concentration of glaciers in the lower 48 states.
Here, a boat works to remove accumulated logs from Diablo Lake. 
Kinda like the cart retrieval guy at Target. 


The drive took us meandering through huge, dense forests and through soaring mountain peaks.



Washington Pass is the highest point on the highway, just below the "Liberty Bell" group of mountains, star feature of more Washington coffee-table books and calendars than any mountain except Rainier.  Amazing views made us feel very small!



 

Back at the Newhalem Campground, the Lucky Charm was tucked in amongst a fairy-like forest, with moss, ferns and huge trees alongside the Skagit River. 





Our hike up "Thunder Knob Trail" (which sounded vaguely pornographic to me) yielded even more amazing views, with the added benefit of cool mountaintop breezes and eagles gliding by as we gazed out and pondered for the millionth time, "why exactly do we live in the desert?"



Again, the water color is caused by glacial flour.  Glaciers are huge bodies of snow and ice that move verrrryyyyyyy slowly.  They are sensitive to climate change and have decreased by more than 40% in this area.  Sprinkles can only hope that future generations of rescue mutts will still get to enjoy views like this.



Goats seem to be the theme up here, though we have yet to see an actual mountain goat.  We did, however, see one woman literally sitting on a picnic blanket with two goats for hours in a city park.


Those who know me well, know that our family raised dairy goats growing up -- 80-100 goats at any given time.  So, even if they are just on signs (or stuffed, or fake), goats get me going!



  




Our visit to North Cascades was woefully shorter than we would have liked, as we wanted to head to our next stop in Sedro-Woolley before the 4th of July weekend traffic rush.  Also, national parks don't allow dogs on their trails, which greatly limits the things we want and are able to do.  But the memories will remain forever of the lush, gorgeous, other-worldly area known as North Cascades!