Cascade Pass and Sahale Arm Hike - One of the best hikes in the Cascades!!
Washington is my second favorite state in the US after California for its natural beauty. It has some of the most beautiful national parks, majestic snow capped mountains and dreamy lush rainforests. We were lucky to visit and hike in all 3 National Parks in Washington - Olympic National Park, Mount Rainier National Park and North Cascades National Park. I fell in love with the Cascades during the Maple Pass Loop hike on our first trip in 2021. I have never seen so many mountains in one place prior to that. I was overwhelmed with joy and wanted to come back again. We planned to do the Cascade Pass and Sahale Arm hike back in 2021, but the Cascade river road was closed for the last 5-6 miles due to damage, so we had to cancel that plan. But I am so glad we did the Maple Pass Loop hike back then, as I absolutely loved it!
I made a plan to go back again and do the Cascade Pass and Sahale Arm hike (~13 mile round trip) in the summer of this year (for the Labor Day weekend). 12 days prior to the trip, I was hit by Covid. I felt weak the first few days but recovered quickly, though I wasn't sure if I could actually do the hike. I was already in Seattle by then and the Cascade river road is fully open, which doesn't happen every summer, so I decided to go ahead with the hike and do as much as I can. I was able to connect with 2 other hikers via AllTrails and we made a plan to carpool for the hike - meet at 5 am on the day of the hike and hit the road.
The drive to the Cascades from Seattle was idyllic. Mountains, meadows and streams in this area make your heart melt in the morning. It is a 3-hour drive to the trailhead and the bumpy gravel section in the last few miles can take a while to navigate (and there is no cell signal). We reached there around 8:30 am after a couple of stops. As soon as we got out of the car, the grandeur of the Cascades hit us like a lightning. The views were jaw dropping even before we began the hike. Right at the parking lot, we knew we were in for a treat for the rest of the day :)
|View from the Parking Lot|
|Before the mist|
|After the mist|
The next several hours were like a game of hide and seek between the mighty mountains and the mild mist. In this Nature's game of give and take between the various forces, we were definitely the winners as it added to the thrill and excitement throughout the day. After about 2 hours from the start, we reached the Cascade Pass, which had glorious 360 degree views (300 of which were covered in clouds) :)
Beyond the Cascade Pass, I took left at the trail split to go towards the Sahale Arm. There were more switchbacks but now they were completely covered in clouds. About 30 minutes later, I reached a ridgeline with some amazing views. The clouds cleared up briefly and I saw the beautiful "Doubtful Lake." I was so drawn towards the lake that I took a few steps down and settled into one of the spots with a spectacular view of the lake. Sitting at the beautiful lake, facing the majestic Cascades, I wished I knew a word that is grander than "grand" to describe the splendor of these mountains! It is so hard to put into words the feeling of peace, calm and gratefulness that I experienced in the presence of pure grandeur. Being so close to the huge mountains was pretty awe-inspiring and it is moments like this that make every step of the hike so worth it! It is in places like this that I get to connect the most with my inner self and would I not climb mountains for moments like this!! At least until I can get there through meditation, which seems ever harder as of now :)
Overall, the hike was spectacular, the scenery splendid and the experience wonderful! I would definitely recommend this hike and the Maple Pass Loop hike in the Cascades for all nature lovers 💗