Image Lake Trek (Trip) - Grade 10-12


Image Lake Trek (Trip) - Grade 10-12


Monday, August 5 - Sunday, August 11, 2019

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

Pre-trip Meeting (Mandatory) Sunday, August 4, 2019.

This backpack is a journey that takes advanced backpackers through a variety of scenic areas. It begins in a verdant old-growth forest, following the mighty Suiattle River. Hikers will steadily climb their way up above the treeline, where meandering meadows stretch out below tattered ridges and summits draped with active glaciers, while below hikers wander through dense forest beside glacier-fed streams.

Along the climb up, hikers will have the opportunity to explore the still-occupied fire lookout tower on Miner’s Ridge. Views from this lookout are bound to daze and amaze! A two-night stay at Image Lake offers company with one of the jewels of the North Cascades range. The ticket to admission to this area is a well-trained body and attitude that can take on the rigors of these mountain miles, ranging from 32-50 total, depending on our choices.

Participants on this advanced trip will help plan more aspects of the journey, including pre-planning, route choices, food preparation, trip leadership, and follow-up. Training for this trip is essential - thanks for your commitment! See here for a trip overview.

Total trip miles: 32 miles with full packs, collaboratively decided additional distance in day hike explorations can add additional miles.

Elevation Gain: 4,400ft. Max. Elevation 6,000ft.


Scholarship application available during registration.

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2019 Itinerary

Monday, August 5 - Sunday, August 11, 2019

Pre-Trip Meeting (Mandatory): Sunday, August 4, 2019. Time: 10:00-1:00PM. 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 8:00AM. Directions. We’ll drive east to the Suiattle River trail to do a final shakedown with gear, then begin our hike along the river. This first day will be a gentle lead in to the incline that lay ahead. Our final mileage for the first day will be a flat 6.5 miles. Our camp for the night will be Canyon Creek campground, situated along a lulling creek and just a short walk from the beautifully crafted Canyon Creek suspension bridge.


Day two we will begin our hike joining the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) for a few miles before starting the climb up toward Miners Ridge. Today will be a 6 mile day, and we will gain 2,500 ft in elevation, hiking over 20 switchbacks! We will camp three miles shy of Miners Ridge lookout, settling in early for a nights rest before another day of ascending higher up the ridge.  


A three mile hike with just 1,500 feet left to climb will take us to our first true vista of the trip. We will hike along the “top-of-the-world” to the Miners Ridge fire lookout tower that still stands sentinel. From here, on a clear day we will have the opportunity to see Glacier Peak and the equally stunning panorama of the Suiattle River valley. The rest of the day we will explore the Miners Ridge area, perhaps visiting other clues and remnants that tell a part of the story of the Glacier Peak Mine. Read more here.


Today we travel just a short distance to Image Lake, a trek that takes us past wildflower-strewn meadows to the much sought after views of Glacier Peak and its beauty reflected in crystalline waters. We will take our time appreciating the serenity of this place, perhaps having some quiet time for reflection and journaling. With dusk encroaching we will make camp just east of the lake, where Glacier Peak is still often in view. Read more here.


We have the option to take a leisurely four mile hike along the Miners Cabin trail, or challenge ourselves to a 10 mile test of endurance along another section of the PCT. Depending on our choice for the day, we will return to one of the campsites we visited in previous days, a marker of the coming wrap up of this week long trip.


Today we return to the gentle ramble of the Suiattle River trail. We will hike along the river whose valley we looked down upon from 6,000 ft only days ago. The ease of the this trail will be a welcome reprieve to our sore feet legs that carried us so high into the clouds near Glacier Peak.


On our last day, we will have six miles of green forested trail to reflect on our trip. We will consider the distance our minds and bodies have traveled beginning to end, by retracing the footsteps of our first day on trail. Mid afternoon we will arrive once again at the Suiattle River trailhead, but this time our destination will be home. We will arrive back in Bellingham in the evening on this final day.  Families, plan on a trip report from the kids before we unload gear and you whisk them home!

Pick-up: Cascades Montessori Middle School, 2710 McKenzie Avenue, Bellingham. Time: 6:00PM. Directions.

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, geology, 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, advanced backpacking skills, practicing gratitude, understanding personal potential, safe emotional and physical edge-stretching, advanced backpack planning skills, overcoming discomfort on longer hiking days, human and natural history...and more!

Participant trip questionnaire and tetanus immunization required to participate.

Trip Training Tips

Trip Pack List

Essentials of Layering