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DiscoverNow – East or West, north-west is the best

Michal from DiscoverNow is on his journey again! The objective this time is Pacific Northwest for him and his buddies. It is the region on the west of North America, to which the USA states of Washington, Oregon and the Canadian province of British Columbia are included. We spent last May in this area of splendid nature and marvelous people.

In the north-west, Canada has the most beautiful nature and the United States has the second most beautiful nature after Canada. Or maybe it is vice versa! There is actually little proof that nature has respect for borders. So as you may have guessed, our journey is intended to experience the two countries and therefore we have been using two tents.  Our trip took fourteen days in total and our team consisted of four members. Each time we left for North America, we packed not only our complete Hannah equipment but we also took with us Jura, the most entertaining Slovak since the Satinský-Labuda famous comedy duo.  His tradition was that, on our first night outdoors, he would show us the scene containing the“ tent” from the movie Backcountry. Whoever has seen this movie, must certainly agree with me that Jura has a “refined” sense of humour. Those who have not seen the movie yet, do not watch it, especially if you ever plan to spend the night in the wilderness. I am sure a seed of doubt will be planted  and it’s so hard to resist, that only a few clicks on YouTube and “you’ve got what you wanted“.


We will now return back to our trip, from which we have unfortunately already returned!  Due to several lucky coincidences we successfully arrived in Vancouver from the Czech Republic and it was at Vaclav’s place, our fifth temporary team member, where we pitched our first camp, There is probably no need to tell anything fundamental about Vancouver, except that over five thousand Czechs reside there and who love the nature and the mountains, and it is quite possible that you are one of them. Some Czechs attended the “gold rush” in 2012 and if you’re Martina Sáblíková, you could be one of them. For those of you who haven’t been in Vancouver yet, we have only brief information: Go there!

Mount Baker, World champion “in snowfall“ 

Leaving Vancouver, we headed south, where we soon came across the USA border. We conquered it easily, like a “twenty-ton crane” would, and right behind the border we could enjoy the view of the peaks of the Cascade Range. Although there are plenty of attractions further south, we didn’t get tempted and just a few hundred meters behind the border we set forth in a cul-de-sac. It meant a slight detour but on the other hand, the harder way will lead you right into the heart of the ridge, specifically below the glacier Mount Baker. If you really like snow, you will definitely enjoy Mount Baker because it is the place in the world with the largest amount of snow. For example, there were 29 meters of snow in the winter season of 1999. We thought it was “quite an achievement” and for which we decided to award the prize of “Gold Snowman”. The road ends in the ski resort because its following part is covered by snow, usually until September. This is a good thing because to get to the top of the hill called Artist Point you have to go on foot and from this hill are probably the best views of the surrounding glaciers Baker and Shuksan and that is the reason why we are here!  The views are marvelous when you are on eight meters of snow above the ground! Even in May there could be some places of ten meters of snow beneath you!  We highly recommend Artist Point!!

National Park and Go!

Cascade Range was supposed to be our home the following week and therefore we got in to the North Cascades National Park through the next pass. We reached into our Hannah Vagabond backpack and drew out our”70 liters of luck and coincidence”, and because of it, we found the last place in a tiny camp right by the Skagit River. The campsite was named Gorge Campground and the early morning ice bath in the river set us off for a further discovery. It was time to park and walk! Ridges in the National Park reach a height of 2,800 m and therefore they were obviously covered with snow. You can enjoy spring hiking much more in the valleys. In one such valley is a gorgeous lake, Lake Diablo. The water in the lake is perfectly crystal-clear but when viewed from above it is so green that even “Rákosníček, (which is a Czech fairytale character, a little green man who lives in a pond called Brčálník) would be envious of its green colour. How does that happen? How can it be?  We don’t know, we didn’t pay too much attention in the physics lessons so please, feel free to let us know!  Anyway, it’s beautiful!

The cosy spring walks

 America is the land of unlimited opportunities but the options of snow ploughs and snow-blowers are very limited. The northernmost road leading through Cascade Range is the North Cascades Highway 20. Despite the fact that there are real champions in snow clearing in the North-west, what is revealed by optimal conditions, is further south mountain passes, but here their efforts are vain. The road is closed in winter and its spring reopening is always a regional honor, comparable to the victory of the Czech hockey players in Nagano. We had the luck that the road which led us right to the heart of Cascade Range had been cleaned the day before we arrived. Alongside the road are countless opportunities to romp on snowshoes or to enjoy alpine touring, but if you do have neither of them, just like us, you can still take pleasure and be entertained in the snow! Spring snow is already well settled and firm and you will not sink into it. Well, okay you will sink but not too deep! Several meter barriers of snow and various trailheads will tempt you to run out and straight away explore the surrounding scenery and we were planning to reach the highestpoint which is Washington Pass. There was already a down trodden trail that led us to a lookout with an amazing view that was far better than a “360° camera”. That’s the reason we came here! Cerulean blue sky, sparkling white snow and granite grey peaks of the surrounding mountains. However, in a few hours there were terribly red faces and legs! The absolute silence was disturbed only by the sporadic explosions of the controlled avalanche firing. Fortunately, this was happening on the opposite slopes. If you feel like it, you can hike a few miles down the Pacific Crest Trail to where other roads cross.

Ein schöner Tag in valley Icicle Creek

On our way through the Cascade Range, we turned further south and got to the Wenatchee National Forest and specifically to the Icicle River. We followed along its banks because the town of Leavenworth is an open-air museum of German immigrants. They “dropped anchor” in this area because the country reminded them of their Alps at home. That’s why we “dropped anchor” here as well! Along the entire valley of the raging river Icicle, there are numerous choices of trails and ferratas, - simply paradise! It was confirmed that the whole state of Washington is a paradise for highly-active people because all the camps were packed to the last place. So we had to use our negotiating skills, and finally we made a deal with a Seattle fellow, who has studied at the Film and TV School of the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague. Due to this miracle opener that helped us to establish a conversation, he eventually gave us half of his place in the camp. It was the place with probably the best view in the entire valley!

The next day we went to check out how people live in Seattle, the City of coffee. We tasted the local beer specials and we have to say that people there live really well! Seattle is perhaps more amazing than Vancouver, the glittering glaciers will attracted us back in the future. It is now time to go to Mount Rainier, the highest mountain and the highlight of Cascade Range. More about it will come next time, now we really have to go!

text and foto: Michal Petřík