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The Rugged Tramper: Cascadian Delight

Epic views from the foot of Sahale Glacier overlooking Doubtful Lake and the jagged peaks of the North Cascades. We camped here at 7,500 feet. It was a chilly night but the view was worth it.

The Pacific Northwest. A wonderful region of the United States and Canada that is filled with a lifetime of adventure. Its densely packed evergreen forests, its chilly, crystal clear rivers and lakes, its jagged, glacier-clad peaks and hulking volcanoes, its community of animals great and small and its kaleidoscope of brilliant colours all play host to your adventure. As for me, this is my fourth trip in the last five years. Why? This region fulfills every desire I have for epic landscapes. I've been fortunate in my life to experience many of the world's beautiful natural playgrounds - the Swiss Alps, the Norwegian fjords, the Himalaya just to name a few. The Pacific Northwest - Oregon, Washington and British Columbia - it's one of my favourite playgrounds.

This year I visited Washington's North Cascades National Park, where I received a thigh-busting, ass-kicking lesson in what really constitutes a mountain switchback. I also re-visited one of my favourite places in the world, Mt. Rainier National Park, whose namesake mountain introduced me into the thrilling and sometimes terrifying world of mountaineering several years ago. (Click here to view my blog post of my climb of Mt. Rainier back in 2012)

Between the two parks, I covered close to one hundred backpacking and hiking miles and gained nearly 20,000 feet in elevation. North Cascades was responsible for most of this elevation gain where three days alone saw myself and my good friend from Portland, Michael, gain over 5,000 feet per day in as little as 1,000 feet per mile. Brutal. We trekked through mystical forests of Douglas Fir, Sitka Spruce and Western Red Cedar to wildflower and huckleberry-dense sub-alpine meadows. We scaled exposed mountain slopes scoured with rocky scree and snow to the foot of melting glaciers bursting forth torrents of cold, crystal clear water. And of course, all of our lung-bursting efforts were rewarded with absolute epic views of the craggy, sharp peaks of the North Cascades and the powerful, overwhelming volcanic mass that is Mt. Rainier. 

Below is a collection of images from my Cascadian adventure. It's a place that really needs to be seen and experienced to believe. It certainly won't be my last time.