This is going to be picture-heavy, because holy mackerel, what a place.
I’ve wanted to hike to Sahale ever since I saw my friends’ photos from it back when I first started hiking. Unfortunately, it’s just never happened, mainly because it’s in North Cascades National Park, which means no dogs, not even nutrias, allowed.
The crux of this hike is actually getting the permits. Anyone can dayhike to Sahale Glacier, but if you want to camp, you’ll need to secure one of the coveted permits from the ranger station.
This is by far the most popular hike in the park, so people line up in front of the ranger station in the morning like Apple fanboys waiting for the latest iPhone.
Our trip came together at the last minute. I caught wind of Janelle and Jessie’s plans, and finagled my way into their group. Then, the day before our hike, I read on Facebook that Tony was on his way up to the North Cascades to try for a permit himself. I called him, begging, and luckily for us, he was happy to not go solo. He scored the last available permits and saved the day!
The hike itself is just…wow. Even the view from the parking lot is to die for. After hiking up 36 of the least efficient switchbacks mankind has ever seen (you will enjoy them on the way up, but curse them on the way down), it’s non-stop views all the way to camp.
Progress will be slow, as you’ll need to take out your camera every three minutes. Be prepared for bugs flying into your mouth, since the views of the massive, neighboring peaks are literally jaw-dropping. Bring a bandanna to wipe the drool off your shirt.
My favorite part of the trip was the early morning. Tony and I shared a campsite, and at 5 AM, we lazily unzipped our rain flies and watched the sunrise from our tents. Aaah.
Sunrise was followed by a breakfast of bean soup, coffee, and quiet time – just me and mountains as far as the eye could see. Happiness.
…and, shockingly, my breakfast of beans and coffee quickly necessitated a visit to what must surely be the finest toilet in the whole world.
There are some wonderful outdoor privies in Washington (I recommend Hidden Lake Peaks, Headlight Basin, and various crappers in the Enchantments), but this is the ultimate loo with a view.
Perched on my, uhm, throne, I could see mountain goats wandering around way down along Sahale Arm, but in camp, we had to make do with these marmots.
Eventually it was time to pack up and head back down. Sniff sniff. I will be back.
This place is worth the permit hassle for sure.
Halfway down Sahale Arm, we were greeted by the goat herd, adorable kid included. So cute! So fluffy! (Please don’t gore us, mama!)
Then, past Cascade Pass, Tony discovered that he can talk to pikas – this guy popped out every time Tony meeped at him.
36 buggy and seemingly interminable switchbacks later, we were back at the trailhead, swigging delicious Vitamin Waters from Janelle’s cooler. That girl knows how to plan ahead.
Huge thanks to the crew for realizing this dream I’ve had for six years – and for being very entertaining hiking partners (even though Wishing and Hoping was stuck in my head for days).