Exploring the ‘American Alps:’ the North Cascades
By Michael Lanza
The wind and horizontal rain battered us and the fog reduced visibility to 50 feet at times as we hiked up Sahale Arm. We struggled into the maelstrom with rain jacket hoods cinched snugly, our heads bent forward into the wind. Bullets of cold rain pelted my cheek.
It was mid-July in Washington’s North Cascades National Park, but it felt like mid-October—no surprise in the northernmost and one of the wettest mountain ranges in the contiguous United States, where 110 inches of precipitation falls annually on its western slope. My friend David Ports and I were headed up toward some of the most severely vertical mountain scenery in the country—though that morning, it didn’t look like we’d get treated to any of it.
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