Retreat to North Cascades Basecamp
Our retreat destination this year was the North Cascades Basecamp in Mazama, Washington. This was a wonderful place to hang out with friends and enjoy life.
Retreat leaders, Joanne, Sharmon, Ruth and Peggy did a test run of the lodge accommodations, they got acquainted with the hosts Kim and Steve, and they scouted out the various trails. They assigned rooms to the various hikers and encouraged everyone to get in shape by participating in weekly hikes during the summer. They made it look easy and left no stone unturned. By early August hikers were eager to head to the North Cascades.
Mother nature threw us a curve on August 10 when heavy rains and thunderstorms in the North Cascades brought the earth and rocks down onto WA State Hwy-20 just west of Rainy Pass. The day before our scheduled trip the message was passed from leaders to drivers that mudslides had closed the road, and we should plan on a 6-7 hour car trip instead of the anticipated 3-hour trip. “Arrive whenever you can and safe travels!“
We were fortunate that we only had a longer drive since 65 other hikers had been stranded in the Cascade Pass area of the park by the mudslides.
Here’s a slideshow of pictures from the retreat -> Mazama Retreat. Thanks to the photographers for sharing!
Day One, August 12: We traveled to Mazama via the scenic route over Stevens Pass and through the Methow Valley. Happy Hiker Chicks started arriving at the North Cascades Basecamp around 3:00 pm and were delighted to find their rooms ready and waiting and to smell the brownies baking in the kitchen. The evening was spent exploring the trail to the Methow River, checking out the garden, soaking feet in the swimming hole and soaking bodies in the hot tub.
All gathered on the deck to share wine and nibbles during the traditional happy hour and then were briefed about the workings of the lodge – choose your unique napkin holders for the meals, leave a bit of food on your plate to feed the chickens, and how twenty-three hikers will very nicely share seven bathrooms with five showers!
Day Two, August 13: Breakfast at 8:00 am (following a hot tub soak for some) lunches packed at 9:00 am and on the road to the trail. We drove about 12 miles to the Cutthroat Lake Trailhead.
Hikers divided into two groups after a couple of miles along the trial – one group headed to Cutthroat Lake and the other took the high road to Cutthroat Pass (a gain of 4800 feet with a gradual climb up and down).
We encountered several small groups on horseback along the way and a few other hikers. (See the slideshow for those horses.) At the end of the 11 mile trek hikers were singing every camp song and golden oldie they could remember to distract themselves from putting one foot in front of the other.
The short distance hikers enjoyed good times at Cutthroat Lake and then more social time back at the lodge.
All had worked up an appetite for a hearty meal, and in the evening we got better acquainted by sharing some dark secrets of our past. Joanne led the group in a game of So you think, you know your hiker chick friend…. No secrets will be disclosed here.
Day Three, August 14: Hikers were divided into 3 groups: those who would hike the Maple Pass Loop Trail of 7.2 miles and 4850 feet elevation, those who would cross the meadows to scenic Lake Ann, and those who were not sure. The not-sure group soon sorted themselves out one way or the other.
Both groups of hikers were treated to fabulous views of Alpine meadows, deep turquoise lakes, hanging glacial valleys, old growth forests, wildflowers, waterfalls and rocky cliffs. Some even spied a mother marmot with her young. Several thought this was the most spectacular hike they had ever done, and we were fortunate that the weather was ideal.
That evening, our hosts, Kim and Steve Bondi presented a program about the ecology of the Methow Valley and North Cascades which included an interesting slideshow with maps and pictures of the area. Sharmon had taken many photos of our hikes and shared her slideshow of our hiking experiences to everyone’s pleasure.
We ended the very special day with a champaign toast to Peggy, Ruth, Joanne, and Sharmon – our capable retreat leaders.
Day Four, August 15: All good things must come to an end.
After breakfast, Martie led the group in a choreographed hug to thank our hosts and then – sadly, it was time to pack up the cars and head back to Bellingham.
This was a very special time to hike and relax with friends in a beautiful setting. Thanks for the memories!