Cascade Highway

Wednesday, July 25, 2007: I started early at the Marblemount Boat Launch on Cascade River Road. The boat launch is on the Cascade River just upstream of its confluence with the Skagit. (Cascade Highway follows the Skagit, Cascade River Road follows the Cascade.) There's a trail at the boat launch, and I did some early birding in the area. Then I headed out Cascade River Road for a bit. Again, I had no luck finding sapsuckers, but I did add one bird to the trip list — Black-throated Gray Warbler. Eventually, I returned to Marblemount and had a late breakfast.

After breakfast, I started east on the Cascade Highway. Diablo Lake comes after Gorge Lake, which I visited yesterday. Crater Lake is an intense blue because the water is so clear, so lacking in sediment. Diablo Lake is the opposite. It contains lots of “glacial flour”, rock that has been ground to dust by glaciers. This gives it an unusual turquoise color.

I stopped at the Thunder Creek trailhead, and walked the trail for a while, maybe a mile out and mile back. I'm still hoping for sapsuckers, but not finding them.

Back in the car, I continued on past the Ross Lake Dam, and Ross Lake, finally stopping at the highpoint, Washington Pass (5477'). There's a short trail to an overlook. The view from Washington Pass is dominated by Liberty Bell Mountain and the Early Winters Spires, and by Kangaroo Ridge. The trees around the overlook are Mountain Hemlock, Pacific Silver Fir, and Whitebark Pine. There were birds there too, including a flock of Evening Grosbeaks. The grosbeaks seemed a little shy. Every time I got into position for a good photo, they would move.

I headed back west to Rainy Pass (4875') where I took the paved trail to Rainy Lake (4790'). It is an exquisite tarn, which my photos will describe better than words. The walls of the enclosing cirque include a nice waterfall, Rainy Lake Falls.

I stopped a couple of times on the way back to Marblemount. For once, I ate dinner at a reasonable time!

Buffalo Run Inn, Marblemount, WA