Backpacking in the North Cascades is great, but last weekend I wanted to do something different. I decided to try canoe camping. The Environmental Learning Center on Diablo Lake was the perfect starting point for my three-day trip.
When we headed out on the first day, Diablo Lake was as smooth as glass. Scott and I had great views of Pyramid Peak, Colonial, and Mount Logan as we paddled past Monkey Island, where J.D. Ross used to keep exotic monkeys to entertain the tourist crowds. The gorge heading toward Ross Dam had no other boat traffic, so we listened to bird songs instead of the sound of motors.
Scott Weiher takes a break to look at the views on Diablo Lake
After paying to have our canoe portaged between Diablo and Ross Lakes (a service well worth the cost), we headed along the shore towards our campsite. Ten Mile Island is small, secluded, and far enough away from shore to be practically mosquito free! The views are spectacular, and we could hear the roar of a waterfall on the far shore.
View from Ten Mile Island
Our second day on the lake was also clear and calm. We took our time exploring Devil’s Creek before paddling on to our second campsite, Roland Point. We arrived at camp by noon, set up camp, and headed out again to explore. While the campsite was beautiful, I wish we had chosen a site with easy access to hiking trails. Used to backpacking trips with heavy mileage, we didn’t know what to do with all of the free time our itinerary allowed. Luckily, I brought “Pass the pigs” to keep us occupied.
The author explores Devil’s Creek
Our final day consisted of minimal mileage, but turned out to be our most difficult day. Winds picked up early in the morning and got stronger as the day progressed. After battling the headwind for four hours, we finally made it back to the Environmental Learning Center. We were exhausted, but it wasn’t anything that a hot shower and a nap couldn’t fix. By late afternoon, we were already starting to plan the next canoe trip.
Views from Ross Lake
The three days I spent on Ross Lake were relaxing and awe-inspiring. My only disappointment was the amount of motorboat traffic on Ross Lake, but that dissipated as we got further from Ross Lake Resort. Next time, I hope to do a longer trip and explore the northern parts of the lake, perhaps combining canoeing with hiking.Photos courtesy of Tanya Anderson and Scott Weiher