09-18-09 - Ross Lake

Last week we went to Ross Lake in the North Cascades. It's a pretty incredible experience. You have to catch a ferry at Diablo Lake (BTW the dam and the water at Diablo are worth seeing even if you do nothing else; Diablo Dam is right off Hwy 20 so if you're driving the 20 for some reason, pull off and stop right in the middle of the top of the dam (the access road goes right across the top of the dam); the water is glacier fed and is this cool milky turqoise). Then you get taken by a truck up to Ross Lake above Ross Dam, then you get picked up by a water taxi from the Resort. They gave us kayaks and took us out to a camp site on the lake. The lake is huge and there's no boat ramp on the US side, which means everybody has to portage in boats or take the ferries like we did, which means it's very empty (not full of rednecks in speed boats like most lakes in the US). We were often all alone on the lake, or with just a few other kayaks or quiet fishermen around.

The result of all the effort to get in is you get a campsite way out all alone in gorgeous country, as good as anything you could backpack to, but you can take more gear and you don't have to carry it, because it's all ferried by boat, and you get your kayaks when you're out there. We had amazing adventures and a magical fantastic time out there; I won't tell you about it. It's definitely worth doing. Weekends in the summer are supposed to be pretty bad. You should go midweek, or the resort guys said the best times are actually June or October; the weather is not so great but it's very empty. In June there will still be snow on the craggy peaks all around and waterfalls of snow melt running off them. The best camp sites are May Creek or Roland Point where there are only 1 or 2 camp sites all by themselves. All camp sites are first come first served at the ranger station backcountry permit signup place; that's why you really need to go on an off day or you'll be stuck in the awful big group camps that completely spoil the point of the arduous journey (Big Bear camp looked pretty awful when we kayaked past it, for example).

N on Ross Lake :


Some external photos :

Diablo Gorge
Ross Dam
Ross Dam 2
Skagit Gorge power station

I've always wanted to have a 4x4 all pre-loaded with camping gear in the back, so I could just hop in an go anywhere. The worst thing about camping is having to get all the gear together and load up the car. The second worst thing is having to go to fucking awful car camping sites. I'd love to just be able to drive up mountain roads and stop somewhere in the woods.

A few links :

Tom's View From Ross Lake Resort How to get here
Ross Lake Resort Frequently Asked Questions Rockport, Washington
Ross Lake Recreational Area - Upper Cascades Dams
Ross Lake Kayaking with Anew Outdoors
Ross Lake - WA - paddling trip report
Paddling Ross Lake - WA - paddling trip report
Pacific Northwest Seasons Ross Lake Paddling in the Path of Beat Poets
NWHikers.net - View topic - Little Beaver-Whatcom Pass-Copper Ridge 813-17
NWHikers.net - View topic - Desolation Peak 9-11-04 (lengthy... with pics)
NWHikers.net - View topic - Canoeing on Ross Lake (and maybe some hiking)
NWHikers.net - s090819Lodgepole-Camp
North Cascade Mountains, Washington State, USA
Fortress of solitude The arduous journey to Jack Kerouac's onetime retreat
diablo love - a set on Flickr
big beaver zen - a set on Flickr
Bellingham Whitewater � Exploring Ross Lake Part 1 Lightning Creek
Backcountry Permit System Explained
Adventure Kayaking Inland Waters of ... - Google Books
A long weekend on Ross Lake Chattermarks
A little slice of heaven at Diablo Lake
5 days on Ross Lake - Alex Wetmore is always busy with something...

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