71 – Skyline Divide to Chowder Basin (Day 1 – Chowder Basin Backpacking Trip)

With spectacular mountain views and meadows filled with wildflowers, Skyline Divide must be one of the most popular hikes in the North Cascades. Beginning our three-day backpacking trip on a Sunday, even though the parking lot was full to overflowing, we pulled into an empty parking spot very near the trailhead. Thinking that maybe the weekend campers had already started to pack up and leave, we headed up.
Skyline Divide Trailhead
The well-maintained trail makes a steep, straight, two-mile climb up through an old-growth forest.
Along the trail . . .
Our climb changed to welcomed switchbacks as the trail continued up through sunny pocket meadows within the Wilderness Area of the Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest.
Pocket meadows of wildflowers
Greeted by fields of wildflowers once on Skyline Divide, we removed our heavy backpacks and enjoyed a break before continuing on to find the perfect location to set up camp.
Skyline Divide . . . wildflower meadows along the ridge
The view we enjoyed during that break, miles and miles of sloping fields of wildflowers – and mountains that went on for, well, almost forever.
Wildflowers . . . Skyline Divide
With our heavy backpacks on once again, we continued along the ridge of Skyline Divide. Up and down the trail went, on past fields of lingering snow.
Continuing on to Chowder Basin
The view seemed to get even better and better as we hiked along.
The view from along the trail
Following a trail down from the ridge of Skyline Divide, we crossed several snow fields before finding the perfect knoll above Chowder Basin on which to set up our camp.
Setting up camp
After setting up camp, Kent climbed a tree to secure ropes so later we could hang our food and cookware safely above the reach of any bear that might be in the area.
Hanging food . . . above bear reach
We passed only a few hikers – on their way out – as we hiked in, and once our camp was set up, even though we had just hiked one of the most popular trails in the area, we had left the crowds behind – we had the entire Chowder Basin to ourselves. A wild and vast area with a magnificant view of Mount Baker and Chowder Ridge right from our tent, what a perfect place to be!
Camp . . .
Sipping cups of tea once camp was set up, purifying water in the nearby stream, dining on a backpacker dinner of creamy mashed potatoes stuffed with bacon and cheese, donning bug nets as the evening bug population picked up, taking in the wild view of the valley below and the mountains around, anticipating the constellations and predicted Perseid meteor shower in the night sky – all wonderful memories being made.

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Go here –http://www.wta.org/go-hiking/hikes/skyline-divide  – for more information on the hike to Skyline Divide.

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