The park features hiking trails along tree covered mountains that seem to stretch on forever, alpine meadows, impressive glaciers, the Skagit River, and stunning views of alpine lakes like Lake Ann or Diablo Lake. Dinner was cooked and eaten by headlamp. The basin is shaped somewhat like an amphitheater, with the main show being the stupendous views of … Tapto Lakes sit in a basin about 800′ above Whatcom Pass. 705 2nd Ave, Suite 300 I saved one for later. She said a smattering, but not many. After the trail finally dropped off the ridge crest, the flies got bad, and would only get worse after topping Hannegan Pass. Hands are needed in a few spots. I gave up, not wanting to have another anxious day. We passed trail crew working on the trail and another ranger who was friendly. Those were the last people I would see for quite some time. The trail first climbes up some switchbacks to that great view back up Ross Lake at Jack Mountain. There was a buggy camp just below the pass where I spent the next night. There are many opportunities to explore the lakes and to take in views of the rugged North Cascade peaks across the lakes. In a couple of the photos, you can see Whatcom and Challenger against that dark gray backdrop. I still had not seen a soul, and the Bear Talk given to me by the Park Ranger echoed in my mind. In the evening, a breeze periodically kept them away as sunset glowed Whatcom Peak pink and made Red Face Mountain that much redder. Hannegan Pass itself is not spectacular, and I did not bother with Hannegan Peak. Washington Trails Association Day 2: Copper Lake to Whatcom Camp (16.5 miles, 4500'). 8/14/07. Contributions to WTA are tax deductible, and we are committed to making the best use of every donation to our mission. I poked around, took photos, and read a book. First, I tried to find the old trail. This continued for at least TWO SOLID MILES. The 2020 Northwest Exposure Photo Contest proved that in a difficult year, sometimes a bit of familiarity and joy is just what's needed. And I had no idea how far the trail was. That path will take you up and around through some really beautiful meadows, approaching the Tapto lakes from the West across a ridge so that you can see the full splendor of them from above. I love a nice evening at a riverside campsite, it makes me feel like a little kid at camp. The Tapto Lakes Basin is absolutely sublime. Not much for views at the camp or pass, but good views await on the sidetrips. I hiked down the short trail to the boat dock. The mosquitos were pretty bad at the Taptos. I wasn't sure if I could do this trip, or what would happen, but I had done it, and it was amazing. They were right, that section was fine, and I quickly reached my campsite for the night at Indian Creek after crossing an awesome suspension bridge. Day Three began with partly cloudy skies and wonderful reflections off the still waters of the lakes. It rises out of deep untouched forest valleys to jaw dropping views of rugged glacier clad peaks. It had been a damp night, so my stuff was wet. The only differences between NCNP and a wilderness area are backcountry permits and park rangers instead of forest rangers. DAY ONE: 12 miles, 900 ft elevation gain On one of the brushy sections, I got nailed badly by a what I later found out to be a stinging nettle bush. My regular backpacking partner hates the “rigidity” of NPS backpacking and also had knee surgery. I wolfed down dinner and watched the sun set over Shuksan, Baker, Icy, Mineral, Whatcom, Challenger, bla bla bla... Increasing views along the way and great meadows with the best berries of the whole park await you at the top. The cable car is a special treat, though requires a deal of arm muscle to manuever. Although it was a bright, sunny day, I could not keep my shades on, because then I couldn't see the ground well enough under the brush to see where I was going. They also said they hadn't done the section of the Chilliwack between the Brush Creek junction and Indian Creek, but that this was not nearly as bad a section anyway. I was disappointed when I got to the main lakes, this does not look like Don Geyer and Plain Old Dan’s photos, you can’t even see Challanger and just a bit of Whatcom! There was a HUGE wall of brush, which appeared (although it was hard to tell) to be clinging to a rather steep bank. The first days hike took us up to Hannegan Pass and then, entering the North Cascades National Park, up to Selesia Camp on Copper Ridge. The contest judges had an amazing (and difficult) time going through all 8,000 photos entered in the contest to narrow it down to 16 winners (made all the more challenging by doing it by video call) but narrow it down they did. But that bridge was washed out (in 2003? Typical of any good backpacking trip, we were treated to horrendous biting black flies and many miles of tremendously overgrown trails. I asked her if she sees many people from outside the NW. Unless you're a hiker -- really, a backpacker -- it's tough to sample the Park's glories. Copper lake was beautiful, but very dusty. I was more and more anxious about making the campsite before dark, which made me hurry more and tire me out, which made me more nervous, etc. But the second crossing can be done fairly easily on a fallen tree a little bit upstream, no bushwhacking required. As I figured, once the trail starts really climbing it leaves the brush behind, but it gets rather steep. Choose to hike to 5050 foot Hannegan Pass (about 8 miles roundtrip) or press on to the 6200 foot summit of Hannegan Peak -- 10.6 miles roundtrip. The lakes are a great spot to meander around. DAY FIVE: 8.2 miles, 1000 ft gain I recrossed the river, coming dangerously close to taking a very bad fall. Tapto lakes is a must see, must do and allow several hours to enjoy! The river has two beautiful fords and begins a long, easy ramble through old growth forests up to the junction with brush creek trail. Next, I tried dropping straight to the river from the campsite. Remote, high in the subalpine, and surrounded by rugged snowcapped peaks, the lakes have all the attributes of a classic backpacking destination. Solo Survival: How to Survive Alone in the Wilderness for 1 week --Eastern Woodlands - Duration: 34:07. All will now tremble before me. Tapto Lakes is a massive area - much larger than I thought it would be. A visit to Tapto Lakes and Whatcom Pass in North Cascades National Park has been on my wish list for a number of years. Washington Trails Association is 501(c)(3) nonprofit. With the long day ahead and a resolve to set a reasonable pace, I got an early start on Day Four. I looked out of the vented wall of my tent over a sea of fog that filled the Chilliwack valley, with peaks rising above it. Day 3: Rest day--side trips to the pass, Whatcom arm, and Tapto lakes. Remote, high in the subalpine, and surrounded by rugged snowcapped peaks, the lakes have all the features of a classic backpacking destination. I hit the trail a little before 8am (early for me). They told me that they never made it to the upper section of the Little Beaver trail this year, which explained the difficulties of the previous day. A visit to Tapto Lakes and Whatcom Pass in North Cascades National Park has been on my wish list for a number of years. I'm not sure why they did this rather than melt snow from a nearby snow patch, which I did. The trip back up the Chilliwack is nice forest with occasional views of Whatcom and Ruth peaks. The wide-open trail to Hannegan Pass and Hannegan Peak offers spectacular mountain views, glorious alpine wildflowers, waterfalls and glaciers. Looking down on Tapto Lakes and Whatcom Pass; Backpacking in the North Cascades. On the plus side, there were views over the brush to the head of the valley, Challenger and Whatcom, and waterfalls waterfalls everyhwere. It draws very few visitors per year, and the odds of seeing another human on your adventure are very low. Trip down to the Chilliwack River is steep, but in decent condition until the flatlands at the bottom where the brush begins. The West Summit is easiest (Class 2), while the higher East Summit is much more challenging (route-finding, Class 3 and 4, some exposure). The next day we headed back down to the Chilliwack valley, through the clouds. Good camps at Copper Creek. Whatcom Pass,Tapto Lakes,Chilliwack River,Copper Ridge. I had just enough light to quickly set up the tent and set up a rope to hang the food. Views toward Whatcom Peak and Challenger from the climb to Tapto. Tapto Lakes is one of those locations that many hikers dream about visiting. So much easier, so long as you have sufficient fuel. Several weeks ago I was finally able to make a return visit to Whatcom Pass and Tapto Lakes, in North Cascades National Park. Tapto Lakes sit in a … I ended up making it to Stilwell at about 8:15. A nice guy gave me a ride on his truck down the dirt road at the bottom. It is not at all overgrown, but the flies are HORRENDOUS, some of the worst I've ever seen, and it was a very hot day. I rubbed it a bit and blinked, and the moth fluttered straight down the ground. To cap off the difficulties of the day, a mouse pestered me while I was eating, and a moth, attracted by the headlamp, flew literally INTO my eye. The image of all those bright red salmon in the pristine waters, deep in the wilderness just pulled me back, that and the lure of making it to Tapto Lakes, above Whatcom Pass. Boundary Camp looked scenic in that lovely basin, but boy, the flies must make it not so fun. Stilwell Camp is on the opposite side of the Little Beaver as the Little Beaver trail, which I needed to take to Whatcom Pass and Tapto Lakes, my destination for the day. With wind storms overnight, I awoke to find everything (including the inside of my tent and myself) coated in half inch of dust/sand. Each year I thought to myself that this was the year I’d make a go of it but never did. Whatcom Peak and Mt. Exploring Tapto Lakes Basin Backcountry camp, Eiley-Wiley Ridge seen in the distance. The alternative was something I had read at least one person describe doing in a trip report -- find a way across near Stilwell. I was very surprised (and rather disappointed) to find that almost the entire Hannegan Pass trail is in the open in brush fields. Hands are needed in a few spots. As I made the annoying little climb out of the Tapto basin, with the toughness and nausea of the previous day still fresh in my mind, I thought ahead to Day 4. After leaving Bear Creek Camp and retracing my route west along the Chilliwack river, I continued past the previous day's junction to the Brush Creek trail, which heads 2500 feet up to Whatcom Pass. (This was my second time, the other being on the Twin Lakes trail (Monte Christo) 2 years ago.) The guys camped there were nice enough to give me a couple packets of electrolite-replenishing powder, which I thought might help. ;) Soon after Twin Rocks, the trail passes right next to a nice gravelly beach on the Little Beaver, with views up to a couple huge cascades coming down the opposite side of the valley. From here, either follow the SE ridge up to the East (and highest) summit, or the SW ridge up to an equally stunning summit but slightly lower. Whatcom Pass and Tapto Lakes. This 'trail' was easy to find but … There's actually a second crossing, as the river is forked. There were also several confusing re-routes where you had to follow ribbons tied to trees. The Brush Creek, ironically, turned out to be the least brushy of all the trails on the trip (save, I suppose, the high-traffic Hannegan Pass trail). Why not camp at North Cascades National Park - Goodell Creek Camp Ground since you're here at Tapto Lakes, and Indian Mountain is easy to spot from Tapto Lakes. At the ridge, five teal-blue pools and meadows await those who are brave enough to bear skin. Watch your step. The pictures can't really do justice to the experience of being on high mountains above clouds. North Cascades National Park. I had a relatively short day of hiking ahead of me anyway, so I hung out there for quite a while hoping my stuff would dry. I stopped there for a while, filtering and snacking. I just wanted to get out of the sun. I hit the hay (hay = Thermarest), thankful that I brought my ipod to calm my nerves. Seattle, WA 98104. Tapto Lakes is a must-see destination if you are staying at the Whatcom Pass Campground or are passing over Whatcom Pass and have a little extra time. Tapto Lakes sit in a basin about 800′ above Whatcom Pass. They are joined by a group of Mountaineers, including Inis Easton, and hike up Red Face Mountain for more views. Then it's up the valley. Brush Creek Trail has not been cleared, but there are only a few, navigable blowdowns. The climb up to Tapto Lakes from Whatcom Pass is even steeper, as it's really just a rough boot path. Copper Lake Not to mention the fact that the whole ordeal took about 45 minutes, or as long as it took to walk the trail detour with no trouble. The rock slopes up the arm are very stable and snow fields are easy to navigate around. 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