Cascade Crossing (Trip) - Grades 9-10


Cascade Crossing (Trip) - Grades 9-10


Saturday, August 5 - Friday, August 11, 2017

Note: Registration priority on this advanced trip will be given to those with previous backpacking experience.

Pre-trip Meeting (Mandatory): Friday, August 4, 2017

Join with a group of other advanced backpackers to hike over one of the most scenic high-country passes in the North Cascades, and down into the isolated, river-braided Stehekin Valley. Stehekin means "the way through", and as we travel through these mountains we'll explore and discuss our own journey through adolescence in this rite of passage trek. 

After an overnight group orientation at the Cascade River property, our traverse of gentle switchbacks will take us to Cascade Pass, where we’ll enjoy the sounds of pikas, marmots, and ice-shedding glaciers as we take in spectacular views in all directions. The next five days will be spent descending into the Stehekin Valley on the route Native Americans took for thousands of years, followed centuries later by early European explorers, prospectors, and surveyors.  We’ll make a side trip into Horseshoe Basin, with its vertical granite walls decorated with waterfalls.

Each day we’ll be fording streams, make plenty of group decisions, spend time solo, and sleep under an expansive sky full of stars. All along the way, we'll go out and go within, co-discovering our changing selves as young women in this time and culture, considering our relationships with self, parents, peers and our community.

On day six we’ll arrive at High Bridge, where we’ll meet the shuttle bus for a ride to the remote village of Stehekin at the head of Lake Chelan. Before we arrive at our lakeside campground, we'll indulge in baked goods at the Stehekin Pastry Company, visit one of the most bountiful gardens in Washington (and get a tour from the modern-day Thoreau who tends it), and learn about the history of this isolated village.

At journey's end, we’ll board The Lady of the Lake for a three hour boat trip down-lake to Chelan. The afternoon will be spent processing our trip during the long – and sleepy – ride back to Bellingham. For a good overview of the entire route, see here.

Total trip miles: 23 miles with full packs, collaboratively decided additional distance in day hike explorations.


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2017 Itinerary

Pre-Trip Meeting (mandatory): Friday, August 4, 2017. Time: 1:00-4:00PM. Location: Cascade Montessori Middle School, 2710 McKenzie Ave, Bellingham. Directions. Participants should bring backpack and everything on the gear list they plan to bring on the trip. While this meeting is for participants only, we're happy to fill parents in on everything we discuss! 


Meet at Cascade Montessori Middle School, 2710 MacKenzie Ave, Bellingham at 9:00AM. After loading gear and building group connection, we’ll drive to Marblemount to obtain our backcountry permits, then head to the Cascade River property for pre-trip preparations, group building activities, a cross-cultural overview of rites of passage, and our first night sleeping under the stars.


We’ll be up early for morning stretching and a hearty breakfast, then drive to the end of Cascade River Road. Setting out with packs on back, we follow the route Native Americans took for thousands of years, traveled centuries later by early European explorers, prospectors, and surveyors. Our traverse of gentle switchbacks will take us 3.7 miles to Cascade Pass, where we’ll enjoy the sounds of pikas, marmots, and ice-shedding glaciers as we take in spectacular views in all directions. We’ll begin our descent into the Stehekin Valley toward our day’s goal of beautiful Basin Camp, at 7.1 miles. Read more about Cascade Pass here.


After breakfast, morning yoga, and our daily group meeting, we’ll set off for an exploration to Horseshoe Basin, a spectacular steep-walled cirque with vertical granite walls decorated with over 18 waterfalls, wildflowers, and countless burbling streams. After lunch and exploring the waterfalls’ base, we’ll approach – but not enter – the abandoned Black Warrior Mine. This day hike, including exploring, will total about 6 miles. Read more about Horseshoe Basin here.


Following our morning routine, we’ll break camp and descend to the Stehekin River Valley, camping for the night at lovely Flat Creek, likely sharing our site with many deer! We'll glean answers to our questions from the wisdom of one another as we delve deeper into understanding the bridge of adolescence and teenhood. Totally hiking mileage this day is 5.2 miles. Read more about the area here.


This is a rest day, focused on reflection and inner discoveries. After breaking camp, we'll seek and find our Peaceful Places along the river and sandbar in this beautiful camp in the heart of the mountains. We'll sit in silence and reflection for an extended time, reading letters from some special people in our lives. We'll continue the spirit of our sit spots with a silent 2.8 mile hike to Bridge Creek.


The arc of every rite of passage ends with return and celebration. Today we hike 5 miles from Bridge Creek to High Bridge, where we’ll celebrate our accomplishment and meet the shuttle bus that will carry us to the hamlet of Stehekin. Our first stop will be at the Stehekin Valley bakery for well-deserved delicious treats. Then we'll visit an incredibly abundant garden and meet the Thoreau-like gardener who tends it. We'll plan our next meals with fresh basil, tomatoes, carrots, cucumbers and goat cheese from the garden and fresh baked bread from the bakery. Purple Point will be our lakeside camp - once shelters are set up, we'll go seek showers (or jump in Lake Chelan)! Read more about Stehekin here.


We'll enjoy our final half day in the remote reaches of the North Cascades before we board the Lady of the Lake boat that will take us down-lake to the bustling tourist town of Chelan. We’ll reunite with our bus, and debrief our trip over dinner in Leavenworth before the drive home. Read more about Lady of the Lake here.

Pick-up: Cascade Montessori Middle School 2710 MacKenzie Ave, Bellingham in the early evening (time depends on trail and road travel time + traffic). Expect a text or call from the road for exact ETA (likely 8:00-9:00PM). Parents: plan on a trip report from the girls before we unload gear and you whisk them home to a shower and bed!

Learning Outcomes: Lessons learned and concepts covered on this adventure include daily in-depth exploration of the bridge to young adulthood and all its attributes, challenges and changes; living out the Wild Whatcom mottos, healthy and supportive interpersonal communication, Leave No Trace (TM) ethics, collaborative leadership development, common sense camping, analyzing hazards and how to mitigate their risk, living with integrity, exploring how our thinking affects our reality, self care, ecology and botany of subalpine and alpine ecosystems, multiple intelligence theory, wilderness awareness and ethics, glaciers and our connection to them,  survival priorities, navigation, preparedness, human impact on mountain ecosystems, wildlife and their adaptation to humans, working with and through fears, mountain weather systems, accepting and working with emotions and intuition, exploring endings and new beginnings; letting go and holding on to childhood attributes, relationship with self, influences and effects on self esteem and body image, including media influences. Exploring river ecology; cougar and bear behavior; relationships with parents and peers, how to speak and listen from the heart, overcoming adversity, advanced backpacking skills, practicing gratitude, understanding personal potential, human and natural history… and more!

Participant trip questionnaire and tetanus immunization required to participate.

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