Cascade Pass trail which rises 1,800' in 3.7 miles on easy switchbacks. The pass itself is amazing, with Mix-Up, the Triplets and Johannesburg Mtn. rising steeply on the south, opposite, a steep path departs
north towards Doubtful Lake overlook onto Sahale Arm and continuing 28 miles eastward is the trail leading to Stehekin. Few can deny the views from this pass and the last few miles of road up to it rival, if not surpass those of nearby highway 20.
I had done this trip for the first time three days earlier to kind of 'wrap up' the summer hiking season, it was a beautiful October Sunday and just as my favorite hiking books predicted-it was packed, like fifty
cars in the lot packed. So on that trip, when I saw my first up-close bear sighting on a solo hike it wasn't as bad as I had anticipated my first 'all by myself-holy shit a bear' experience would go down.
By the time I was on Sahale Arm I could see a group of people from probably every stretch of the upper trail and in retrospect I believe that might have been what boosted my confidence, long overview short
the first bear I saw was obviously a Black bear.
I arrived at the trailhead at 11:30am to find zero cars in the parking lot, another beautiful late October day-I felt lucky to have the pass to myself. I hurried up the switchbacks, every now and then I could hear
snow and rock tumbling down Johannesburg quickening my pace in an attept to see it. Reaching the pass at 12:30pm I was feeling pretty good about myself, I pondered what to do next. Should I stay at the pass and
soak in the views, maybe go to Stehekin? No, I wasn't feeling lazy or crazy so I decided to brave Sahale Arm. Armed with a tiny bear bell attached to an eight foot long bamboo pole, I cautiously ascended the switchbacks to the Doubtful Lake overlook. "Doubtful I'll visit that lake" I said aloud partly because of the toll it would take on someones knees and mostly to make as much noise as I could.
'Summit'"Well, Thats probably good enough for me" explaining that this was as far as a would go. It was late, I didn't have crampons to proceed onto Sahale Glacier, I was hungry, the list just started to go on at that moment. And so, after snapping off as many pictures of this guy as my 3.2 megapixel Olympus could crank out I decided to find a spot as downwind from the bear as possible for me to eat some food and remember why I thought it would be clever to bring chipotle cranberry chedder cheese and smoked salmon for lunch.
I would feel pretty lucky if so.