North Cascades and Tim aka Raptor Man – a PCT Story circa 2010/11

Subject: Hiking the PCT the North Cascades highway and Terrain Visualization

I am now back in sunny SoCal but, just a few short days ago my friend Tim (AKA: Raptor man) took me or rather I drove him to the North Cascades National Park North Unit area.

On the way up the road we drove through small towns with names like Concrete, Rockport, and Marblemount.

Cement and shoes I asked? No – said Tim, but here is probably some of what he told me while I drove and tried to take in the entire scenery.

Early settlers came to the area in 1871, originally calling the settlement on the west “Minnehaha”. In 1890, the town site was set up, and the name “Baker” was adopted.

On the east bank of the river, a community then sprang up and started producing Washington Portland Cement (1905) so naturally the area started acquiring the new name of “Cement City”.

After the Superior Portland Cement Company plant (1908) was built in Baker, it was then decided by town officials to merge these two towns, and so in 1909, the new community settled on the name of “Concrete”.

Rockport’s claim to fame was that at one time is was the 3rd largest producer of lime in the country. And as you now may or may not know from my previous journal entry about the lime kiln trail hike – limestone is cooked and easily fits into this cement or concrete binding sort of story. 

Marlbemount on the other hand is the other small town that is known for its eagle watching and fish hatchery.

Tim’s goal in addition to educating me about the area was to take me to see the Ross lake recreation area and meet some Rangers.

Thank you Tim – I really did feel like I got to see the big picture feel of the area.

While on my thru-hike of the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) Tim and company will (if all goes as planned) pick me up at the Snoqualmie Pass area for some much needed R&R (rest & relaxation) not rest and rehabilitation.

My visit to this area was definitely worth the drive, if only to visually see the terrain, mountains and weather extremes from full on rain to freezing snow.

I got a kick out of seeing the area called the American Alps! It is truly awe inspiring. Very few people get this far and most have never heard of the area.

The all time outside low from the comfort of our rental car was 37 degrees at the top of the Ross Lake overlook and 42 degrees down at Highway 20 by the Skagit River.

The NPS North Cascades park flyer provides a real good sense of the area in relation to where the PCT trail runs. On this map you can see the PCT as it snakes its way west of the Lake Chelan National Rec area (Steheken Lodge & Landing) before it snakes east and crosses our road – Highway 20 and the now closed section of the North Cascades Highway.      

Unfortunately for us the visitor center was still closed this time of year but, with Tim’s help I did manage to make some good future contacts. Tim also tells me that there were three explorers now hiking through what is now Canada.

You know, said the first explorer, “we should name this place we’re hiking through”. I agree, said the second explorer. 

Great idea, said the third explorer. How about this – we’ll each pick a letter and then make a name out of it. 

Okay, said the third explorer, I’ll go first. C, eh!

The second explorer said, N, eh!

The first explorer said, D, eh!

Make sure when you also make it across the border that you let those Mounties know how Canada got its name.

For future reference its best that we complete this section of the PCT before October 1st.

See you on the trail!