Best Dayhike Ever: Maple Pass Loop (Cascades)

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Best Dayhike Ever: Maple Pass Loop (Cascades)

Postby Langdon Greene » Sat Sep 07, 2013 10:23 am

Best Dayhike (under ~12 miles) in US? Sorry, it's not the Highline/Garden Wall, nor the Siyeh Bend Loop. Forget Angels Landing (Zion), Virgin Narrows up & back (Zion), Navajo/Queens Garden (Bryce), Mist/Panorama (Yosemite) and Bull Creek Flats (Humboldt Redwoods SP). Those are all awesome, and all formerly among my personal favorites (+Avalanche Lake too), but I now have a new favorite. (BTW, I'm only counting those directly accessible to a frontcountry TH, and imposing an arbitrary mileage limit that most semi-fit Americans ought to be able to handle.)

It's the Maple Pass Loop, North Cascades NP (actually, most of it is in the National Forest, just barely outside the NCNP boundary). Seriously. If there is one dayhike you should do in your life, it is this one. And it's only 8 miles (with options for several short side routes/trips).

Background
We had an 8-day, 75 mile backpack planned in Olympic NP in late August, relying on a 5-day weather forecast of sunny & 70% chance of no precip. But when we got partway into the backpack, opening Schrodinger's box, it was the 30% outcome that had won out leaving the cat drenched and drowned. We got up to the High Divide with no visibility, dense cloud/fog all socked in, so all our intended photographs were not going to be possible, and the ranger at Hoh Lake said the forecast for the next three days was more of the same - a surprise tropic system of warm, dense, moist air from the Pacific had moved in, dropping as much as 2 inches per HOUR. (No wonder the Hoh & Bogachiel rainforests are the wettest spots in the continental US.)

Anyway, realizing we weren't going to get any of the photos we wanted, we decided to bail on that route and cobble together something in the (drier) North Cascades for the 3 days we had left. So we zoomed out the 15 miles from Hoh Lake, down/out the Hoh valley with enough time to catch the last ferry at Port Townsend and then motor over to the North Cascades, with enough time left before our flight out of SeaTac to do the Maple Pass loop as a dayhike, and then a quick 2-day backpack over Cascade Pass, Sahale Arm, and down the Stehekin Valley to Horseshoe Basin (and then back out the same way).

Now we're glad our original plans were aborted by the monsoon. Talk about turning lemons into lemonade; the Cascades are AWESOME. You should see the vertical expression of some of those mountains towering over deep narrow valleys - definitely comparable to the vertical expression of anything in Glacier (though slightly different in look). Sourdough Mountain must rise up 5000 from the valley floor, easily. I just kept staring at it and saying, that is one big MFing mountain. I can't wait to get further into the backcountry on some 7-10 day backpacks out there.

I'll try to post photos later - separately for the Cascades, Olympic rainforest (what we could get), and Ozette Coast (also Olympic).

As someone on this board (ETA: it was orin) posted on another thread here a year ago: If you love Glacier, you will probably love the N.Cascades too.
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Re: Best Dayhike Ever: Maple Pass Loop (Cascades)

Postby orin » Sat Sep 07, 2013 9:59 pm

Glad you enjoyed the North Cascades. Personally I was lucky enough to backpack Glacier, the North Cascades and the Olympics this summer.
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Re: Best Dayhike Ever: Maple Pass Loop (Cascades)

Postby Jen » Sat Sep 07, 2013 11:47 pm

Gloat.
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Re: Best Dayhike Ever: Maple Pass Loop (Cascades)

Postby Jen » Sat Sep 07, 2013 11:48 pm

Yes, Orin, I said gloat not goat. ;)

This girl is green with envy. ;)
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Re: Best Dayhike Ever: Maple Pass Loop (Cascades)

Postby Selkie » Sun Sep 08, 2013 7:10 am

Thanks for this, L.G.
The North Cascades environs is definitely on my to-do list. I might even develop a spreadsheet.
I appreciate the mileage limit, being a (semi)-tough old bird rather than spring chicken.
:D
And looking forward to the pictures!!!

Hi Jen! I'm counting down (the DL is such a snore): only 360 days to Glacier/Pacific Northwest!
:arrow:
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Re: Best Dayhike Ever: Maple Pass Loop (Cascades)

Postby orin » Sun Sep 08, 2013 8:47 am

Hm. I suppose if I happened to mention the 8 days I spent in the Bob the greenness might get deeper. :wink:
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Re: Best Dayhike Ever: Maple Pass Loop (Cascades)

Postby Langdon Greene » Sun Sep 08, 2013 1:06 pm

orin wrote:Glad you enjoyed the North Cascades. Personally I was lucky enough to backpack Glacier, the North Cascades and the Olympics this summer.


Where precisely did you backpack therein, orin? BTW, thanks SO MUCH for your N.Casc recommendations last year. Very helpful.

While I missed Glacier this year, I have backpacked Olympics, Cascades, Cali Redwoods, and Smoky Mountains (and other southern Appalachians thereabouts). And we'll be canoe camping in the Congaree swamps next month. (Plus, chances are good we might hit Torres del Paine or FitzRoy in December or January....)

Seriously, though, we gotta get back to Glacier soon. Really eager to do TwoMed up to RedEagle, around the south side of St Marys to Gunsight / ELW and out Sperry.
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Re: Best Dayhike Ever: Maple Pass Loop (Cascades)

Postby orin » Sun Sep 08, 2013 10:16 pm

Where precisely did you backpack therein, orin?


I was in Glacier the first week of June so high country access was limited but I took the boat to Goat Haunt and spent a night at Lake Francis and a night at Kootenai Lakes with dayhikes to Brown Pass and almost to Stony Indian Lake.

I was in Olympic NP for 4 nights over July 4th holiday. Backpacked up the Dosewallips River to Hayden Pass and Lost Pass.

I was in the North Cascades in mid August. Biked the closed Suiattle Road to the Suiattle Trailhead. At the PCT, I headed west to FIre Creek Pass. This is just north of Glacier Peak. I flew through the area last summer and wanted to spend some time there. Seven days was almost enough time to explore it.

The end of August I spent 8 days in the Bob Marshall. Up the Spotted Bear River to Pentagon with a circuit around the Trilobite Range.
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Re: Best Dayhike Ever: Maple Pass Loop (Cascades)

Postby Jen » Sun Sep 08, 2013 10:58 pm

Langdon: Photos pretty please!!!!
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Re: Best Dayhike Ever: Maple Pass Loop (Cascades)

Postby Selkie » Mon Sep 09, 2013 9:35 am

There is a Maple Pass pano about 1/3 of way down, left side, of this set of panos from North Cascades (not mine):
https://plus.google.com/photos/112389663229088041409/albums/5911434779712248993?banner=pwa
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