I got up at 5:00 AM Saturday, yawn, and drove two hours east on Highway 20 to the East Bank Trailhead on Ross Lake. I’ve never done the East Bank Trail from 20, but I figured it was the most likely place in the North Cascades Park to be snow free. And it was ....perfect. The trail turned out to be a total cupcake—very easy, but also very gorgeous and very very enjoyable. The trail is sort of like Baker Lake, though I would say it is easier, with better footing, but much longer and more remote. I had it to myself--no boats on the lake, and only two people all day on the trail. Clear skies, warm temps. I made it out to Devil’s Camp, which forms part of the Devil’s Loop, and then turned it around, for about 25 miles total. I took it very easy, just enjoying the trail.
The East Bank Trail goes all the way to Canada. I'm guessing 35 miles total, one way. Not today for me, but hopefully someday. You can catch a boat up to Hozomeen and then hoof it out to Highway 20, or even start in the Skagit Provincial Park in BC. I’ve camped farther up the trail, under Desolation Peak, which is Jack Kerouac’s old fire lookout. There’s actually a campground called Nightmare which I backpacked to with some friends. We took the boat in on that trip, out of Ross Lake Resort. There’s lots of underused wilderness campgrounds on Ross, including island campgrounds.
Here’s what the NPS says about the East Bank Trail. Their write-up includes a link to a map of the trail.
This was a bit of an equipment test run for me. I ran with my new “Spot” satellite tracker and 911/Help alert, which is supposed to work “anywhere.” (http://www.findmespot.com/). My family got the Spot for me after I told them about the coyotes I heard at night a couple months ago. It makes sense, I suppose. Unfortunately, I think I did something wrong—I’m not getting any of my tracking information so far. So, jury’s out on the Spot. Or, it works anywhere, subject to operator error.
I also decided this year to try out treating my water. I picked up the “Steripen.” (http://www.steripen.com/) This thing seems really cool. It is very light and packable—it fits in a pocket or whatever. You stick it in your water bottle, and it zaps all the water boogers with ultraviolet rays, and then they die from radiation or something. I think it worked, but this is a wait and see situation.