hikes

August 23, 2017

North Cascades backpacking trip

Three night backpacking trip in the Cascade Pass, Sahale Arm, Pelton Basin and Basin Creek areas

Day 1

3.7 miles with 1,700 ft. gain, 600 ft. loss

My first time visiting the North Cascades National Park, I was blown away on the drive in, with towering peaks with snowfields and glaciers viewable from the parking lot. This is the first year that backcountry permits are required for the Cascade Pass area and we were lucky to score three nights at campsites at Pelton Basin and Basin Creek. The trail to Cascade Pass goes up 37 switchbacks, which were hot, dusty and buggy on the day we hiked in. We were headed to the group camp at Pelton Basin.

North Cascades backpacking trip: Cascade Pass, Sahale Arm, Pelton Basin, Basin Creek

view from the parking lot!

North Cascades backpacking trip: Cascade Pass, Sahale Arm, Pelton Basin, Basin Creek

hiking up to Cascade Pass, with a view of El Dorado and it’s large glacier

North Cascades backpacking trip: Cascade Pass, Sahale Arm, Pelton Basin, Basin Creek

one of 37 switchbacks

North Cascades backpacking trip: Cascade Pass, Sahale Arm, Pelton Basin, Basin Creek

amazing views on the way up

North Cascades backpacking trip: Cascade Pass, Sahale Arm, Pelton Basin, Basin Creek

finally done with the switchbacks!

North Cascades backpacking trip: Cascade Pass, Sahale Arm, Pelton Basin, Basin Creek

looking back at the hike in

North Cascades backpacking trip: Cascade Pass, Sahale Arm, Pelton Basin, Basin Creek

view of Pelton Basin from Cascade Pass

North Cascades backpacking trip: Cascade Pass, Sahale Arm, Pelton Basin, Basin Creek

trail junction for Sahale Arm

North Cascades backpacking trip: Cascade Pass, Sahale Arm, Pelton Basin, Basin Creek

heading down to Pelton Basin

North Cascades backpacking trip: Cascade Pass, Sahale Arm, Pelton Basin, Basin Creek

trail junction for Pelton Basin camp

North Cascades backpacking trip: Cascade Pass, Sahale Arm, Pelton Basin, Basin Creek

group campsite

North Cascades backpacking trip: Cascade Pass, Sahale Arm, Pelton Basin, Basin Creek

camp kitchen and bear boxes at Pelton Basin camp

Day 2

day hike to Sahale Arm: about 5 miles, 1,500 ft. gain

On the second day, we woke up to foggy conditions, but decided to go ahead and do a day hike to Sahale Arm since we had to move camp the next day to Basin Creek, another 1,700 ft. lower than where we were camped at Pelton Basin. The trail junction for Sahale Arm is near Cascade Pass, so we headed back towards to the pass from camp. As we hiked up, the fog and low clouds cleared, allowing for fantastic views in all directions. It was cold with wind gusts, and I didn’t go all the way to the base of glacier. Instead, I stopped on the ridge and enjoyed the panoramic scenery while part of our group continued higher up the ridge.

North Cascades backpacking trip: Cascade Pass, Sahale Arm, Pelton Basin, Basin Creek

heading back to Cascade Pass

North Cascades backpacking trip: Cascade Pass, Sahale Arm, Pelton Basin, Basin Creek

foggy conditions in Pelton Basin

North Cascades backpacking trip: Cascade Pass, Sahale Arm, Pelton Basin, Basin Creek

subalpine scenery in Pelton Basin

North Cascades backpacking trip: Cascade Pass, Sahale Arm, Pelton Basin, Basin Creek

on the Sahale Arm trail

North Cascades backpacking trip: Cascade Pass, Sahale Arm, Pelton Basin, Basin Creek

Marmots were everywhere! This cutie posed for us.

North Cascades backpacking trip: Cascade Pass, Sahale Arm, Pelton Basin, Basin Creek

heading up to the ridge

North Cascades backpacking trip: Cascade Pass, Sahale Arm, Pelton Basin, Basin Creek

view of El Dorado Peak from Sahale Arm

North Cascades backpacking trip: Cascade Pass, Sahale Arm, Pelton Basin, Basin Creek

far below is our campsite for the third night at Basin Creek

North Cascades backpacking trip: Cascade Pass, Sahale Arm, Pelton Basin, Basin Creek

the trail we took up to Sahale Arm

North Cascades backpacking trip: Cascade Pass, Sahale Arm, Pelton Basin, Basin Creek

Sahale Peak and Doubtful Lake

North Cascades backpacking trip: Cascade Pass, Sahale Arm, Pelton Basin, Basin Creek

I’ve never seen so many glaciers in one place

North Cascades backpacking trip: Cascade Pass, Sahale Arm, Pelton Basin, Basin Creek

hiking back to our camp

Day 3

moving camp to Basin Creek: 3.2 miles with 1,700 ft. loss

On the third day, we moved camp to Basin Creek, going down, down, down 1,700 ft. into the valley below.

North Cascades backpacking trip: Cascade Pass, Sahale Arm, Pelton Basin, Basin Creek

this section of the trail has 12 switchbacks

North Cascades backpacking trip: Cascade Pass, Sahale Arm, Pelton Basin, Basin Creek

heading to Basin Creek camp

North Cascades backpacking trip: Cascade Pass, Sahale Arm, Pelton Basin, Basin Creek

a beautiful waterfall on the trail to camp

North Cascades backpacking trip: Cascade Pass, Sahale Arm, Pelton Basin, Basin Creek

getting closer… with many talus slopes to cross

North Cascades backpacking trip: Cascade Pass, Sahale Arm, Pelton Basin, Basin Creek

tight quarters at Basin Creek camp

North Cascades backpacking trip: Cascade Pass, Sahale Arm, Pelton Basin, Basin Creek

camp kitchen at Basin Creek

North Cascades backpacking trip: Cascade Pass, Sahale Arm, Pelton Basin, Basin Creek

our camp water source, the Stehekin River

North Cascades backpacking trip: Cascade Pass, Sahale Arm, Pelton Basin, Basin Creek

ahh… this was a great spot to cool off in the water

North Cascades backpacking trip: Cascade Pass, Sahale Arm, Pelton Basin, Basin Creek

cascading water

 Day 4

7.4 miles with 2,300 ft. gain and 1,700 ft. loss

We had a long hike out on the last day, getting back up to Cascade Pass, then back down the 37 switchbacks to the trailhead. I loved everything about this trip and hope to come back again to explore the area more.

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  • William Fulton

    not far from Cascade pass are other great trips…Hidden Lakes Lookout…best anywhere