North Cascades National Park, WA.

By Maggie -- Aug 23, 2014


How much fun can three people have in two days in North Cascades?


Mallory flew into Spokane airport at 11am on Thursday morning. We pulled into the airport and barely slowed down enough for her to load up her gear. Off we drove across the state of Washington and up into the hills! Mal was already pooped by the time she got in the car. Little did she know we had 4 crazy days of activities ahead.

On the way into the mountains, we drove past miles and miles of apple trees. They looked so good, we had to stop. "Mal, wake up! We're stealing apples!" Then with our arms full of more apples than we could possibly eat, we kicked up dust as the car peeled off the dirt road. In the cute town of Winthorp, we picked up some vanilla ice cream. The sky got dark and we needed to make it up to the campground before a huge storm hit. We drove through the storm and right into a perfect campsite at Colonial Creek Campground. Later that night we slow cooked some Washington apples in butter, cinnamon and brown sugar, which we covered with toasted granola and ice cream. This was Mal's first introduction to our life on the road... We're not sure if she enjoyed it or thought we were lunatics at this point.

North Cascades National Park is relatively small, with only a few campgrounds huddled together in the vast stretch of mountains.  I had looked up where we could rent a canoe in the park, and found that our only option was to hike to a small, family-owned resort on beautiful Ross Lake. This resort is not accessible by cars; the only way to get to it is to hike down into it. Ross Lake Resort has 10 floating cabins, a small convenience store, and different kinds of boat rentals. For $8/hr we rented a canoe and the three of us piled in with our fishing poles and a packed lunch. It was cold, about 60 degrees, and we didn't have much luck fishing for the first several hours. Nevertheless we traveled all over the lake to check out waterfalls and wildlife, and it was awesome just to be out there. 

In the afternoon, the sun came out and we shed our warm layers. On our way back to return the canoe, bummed but not yet defeated, we left a line in the water. We were paddling pretty fast and trolling with a crappie jig and a worm (as a last-ditch effort). We call this ridiculous bait combo a "fish smorgasbord". Well to our surprise, it worked! Mal yelled as the line started bending, I instinctively grabbed the reel and suddenly about 20 yards off a HUGE rainbow trout jumps three feet out of the water. We all screamed like little girls (including Ryan). We never knew trout could be that huge. It was a fighter. It was beautiful. I reeled it in, Ryan yelled "Get it in the boat! Get it in the boat!" and Mal pulled out her iphone to take pictures. We were a hot mess. It launched itself out of the water 3 or 4 times, and as I was pulling it into the boat, SNAP! We lost it the most beautiful fish any of us had ever caught. 

We sat there in complete silence for about a minute. Total disbelief. If we had only brought the the damn net! If only I had got it in the boat faster! 

It turns out that "The One That Got Away" was meant to swim back into the lake that day. As we paddled back to the dock, 4 park rangers were just arriving. Unbeknownst to us, we had broken about 20 fishing rules on Ross Lake, including use of live bait and using hooks with barbs. We jumped out of the canoe, quickly paid and left. We talked about that fish for 2 days. We were glad we didn't get fined though. 

Lesson learned - take the time to ask about the local fishing rules. Also, always bring the damn net!