Cady Ridge Loop

Back in the GPW

Each year, my family does a backpacking trip together. Last year we did a longer trip on the Chelan Summit Trail. This year, we only had one weekend that aligned with all of our schedules. We opted for the Cady Ridge – Meander Meadow backpacking loop in the Glacier Peak Wilderness (actually Henry M Jackson Wilderness, but the spirit of the GPW).

I have never been to the Little Wenatchee Trailhead because you have to drive all the way to Lake Wenatchee and then back northwest up a long river road. But there are many loop opportunities in this area and it provides quick access to the PCT. We started up the trail towards Meander Meadow. Much of this trail is rather overgrown with brush, making it feel hot and humid. It was not quite as bad as Indian Creek, but a little slow going. I believe that this Lake Wenatchee region has the worst brush in Washington because the valleys tend to be bushes not forests and it is still wet enough for abundant growth.

Butterflies and flowers in the GPW.

Once we finally entered Meander Meadow, we transitioned from the valley brush to beautiful subalpine meadows. Meander Meadow is a pretty nice spot so we took a lunch break there.

Entering the vibrant Meander Meadow.

The hillsides were so incredibly green. The Alps have had a dry year, so I forgot how vibrant shades of green can be. It felt like everything had its saturation turned up, but it was actually real.

Once on the PCT, we cruised for a few easy miles to Dishpan Gap and beyond. My dad, Sara, and I had hiked this little section eight years ago as part of the White Pass to Pilot Ridge Loop, our first backpacking trip together. Back then, I used my dad’s old 90 liter pack and it weighed nearly 50 pounds! 10 miles per day was a real struggle.

Looking at Cady Ridge from the PCT.

The PCT was real busy with thru hikers. But we stepped off at the Cady Ridge junction and set up camp at the saddle. This spot has a lovely view of Glacier Peak and the White River Glacier.

Dakobed and the Kololo Peaks and White River Glacier.
First trip with five of us in total!

We took a side trip to Lake Sally Ann before dinner and then ate dinner amongst the mosquitoes. Near sunset, we walked up Cady Ridge to a beautiful wildflower meadow.

Golden hour in the GPW.

The others returned to camp while I savored the last few minutes of light on Dakobed. I stood in an infinite field of lupines, watching clouds float by the base of Glacier. Time seemed to slow down and I realized that this was the first time all summer I had watched the sun set in the wilderness, a sad thing to admit. It was just another random meadow in the Cascades, but it was damn near perfect. In all my time in the Alps, there was never a meadow as beautiful as this one. It feels like you can just throw a dart at a map of the Cascades and end up at a spot like this – random, ordinary, and yet somehow so extraordinary. Traveling to new places is novel and exciting but also reminds me how fortunate I am to live close to these mountains. This is home to me, and I am thankful for that.

Lupines and Glacier Peak. What else could you want?

We all slept in the next morning because we had a short hike out Cady Ridge. Cady Ridge is a beautiful trail through high meadows with views south to the Alpine Lakes Wilderness.

The distant Alpine Lakes Crest.
Nice views of Indian Head Peak.

As we drove out, we found that the Little Wenatchee River Road was now closed due to advancements of the Irving Peak wildfire. The smoke had been blowing away from us, so we were unaffected during our trip.

This was a very enjoyable little loop and incredibly my first backpacking trip of the summer! It was nice to revisit a region that has long inspired me. There are many great backpacking loops out in this region, so check it out! I am already planning a bigger trail loop maybe for the fall when the meadows turn red… and that time is not far away!

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