Canoeing Ross Lake and Whitewater Rafting the Sauk

By Wilderness Adventures August 1, 2013

It’s hard to believe that our trip is almost over! The last six days have been spent on the water, learning how to paddle both canoes and rafts. We traveled northeast into North Cascades National Park, where we spent Thursday preparing for our backcountry canoe trip. Cook crew worked hard and prepared a delicious breakfast of pancakes and bacon. Bryce perfected the pancake flipping technique and made several perfect pancakes. Following breakfast we visited the National Park Visitor Center where we learned about the wilderness area we would be canoeing through. After lunch Lindsey impressed the group with her frisbee throwing skills during a group came of catch. We spent the afternoon playing games and preparing for our canoeing trip.


We spent the next four days canoeing on Ross Lake. The paddle was absolutely beautiful: we were surrounded by snow capped mountains and passed several dramatic waterfalls where rivers entered the lake. Following the eastern shore we traveled approximately 20 miles by canoe, camping each night at sites adjacent to the water. After learning the different paddling strokes on the first day, everyone gradually improved their technique until we were practically pros! Maeve especially mastered the art of steering from the back of the canoe and Fred became so adept at paddling that his boat was usually leading the group. 


Everyone worked well communicating with their canoe partner, which meant that we usually made really good time. On day two of paddling (our longest day mileage wise) we got to camp by early afternoon, giving us plenty of time to cool off in the clear waters of Ross Lake. Grace was usually the first in the water and last out each day we went swimming. In addition to swimming and relaxing at camp we also played several group games. The favorite became camouflage, and Grant impressed everyone with his skills in hiding. Grant also narrated several rounds of mafia, which involved very elaborately thought out stories that made everyone laugh.


On Sunday (day 3 of paddling) in addition to our 5.5 mile paddle we also went on a day hike up Desolation Peak. Everyone pushed themselves hard and we hiked uphill for about four hours. Jack hiked near the front and helped set a good pace for the rest of the group. Although we didn’t make it to the summit, we did get to about 5,000 feet elevation and were rewarded with a breathtaking view of Ross Lake and the surrounding Cascade mountain range! It was great to stretch our legs after sitting in the canoes for the past three days.


After four days of canoeing we traded our canoes in for rafts and on Tuesday we white water rafted the Sauk River with our guides, Eli and Rivers. The trip was a lot of fun and our time canoeing definitely helped prepare everyone for paddling the rafts. The trip lasted about four hours and involved a lot of water fights. Although the rapids were minimal due to low water flow everyone had a lot of fun. It was a great way to end the water based portion of our trip. After getting off the river we went out for pizza and then spent a couple of hours playing games at camp before heading to bed. Going forward we will be traveling to Seattle and spending a day sight seeing in the city!