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Cascades Sea to Summit Highlights

A multi-day sea kayaking trip in the San Juan Islands and an extended backpacking trip in the “American Alps”!

Dates

Jul 18 - Jul 31, 2020

Ages

14-16 (enter 9th-11th)

Tuition

$2970 (airfare not incl.)

Destination

Washington

Status

Open
  • Camp in Washington state
  • 3-day Kayak San Juans
  • 6-day Backpack N. Cascades
  • Swim in oceans, lakes and rivers
  • Hike San Juan Islands & ferry
  • Tidepooling & beach time
  • Rafting the Skagit River
  • Celebrate in Friday Harbor, WA
This trip arrives and departs from Seattle, WA

Our daughter greatly benefited from the Alpengirl experience. While she most appreciated the rock-climbing, horseback riding, hot springs, and new-found friends, we were most thrilled that she came home with a new love of nature (not something she was known for in the past),...

~ Pamina (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania)

Trip Description

Summer Teen Travel Adventure Camp in Northwest Washington for Girls 

Experience a world-class outdoor playground on this Washington Adventure Camp for Girls! The Pacific Northwest has many gems and the San Juan Islands and the North Cascade Mountains (aka the “American Alps”) are right at the top of the list of best places.  

This trip features a challenging 6-day backpacking loop covering about 41 miles that takes us into the heart of North Cascades National Park and into the town of Stehekin, which is accessible only by boat and trail! Highlights of the trek include hiking on a portion of the Pacific Crest Trail, taking in rewarding 360-degree views from mountain passes, overlooking the azure waters of Lake Chelan, and traveling through sub alpine meadows and forests of mountain hemlocks and larch.

This journey is one of both land and sea. We’ll continue our adventures with a 3-day overnight sea kayaking trip in the San Juan Islands, where, in addition to fabulous paddling every day and camping on different islands, we'll do day hikes, tide pooling and beach time and hope for wildlife sightings - orcas, seals and eagles.  

For two weeks, each girl will be immersed in nature and become very comfortable with adventure that exists away from traditional campgrounds and while having the time of her life!

Trip Itinerary

Day 1: Arriving at SeaTac International Airport in Seattle, WA, your Alpenguides will greet you and introduce you to the rest of your group. Icebreakers, name games, and get-to-know-you fun abounds before you and your new expedition mates hop in the van and drive to the first campsite. 

Once we arrive, we'll learn how to set up our tents and enjoy the first of many delicious and fresh camp meals before settling into our tents for the night.  

Day 2: Waking up refreshed and renewed, you’ll grab your sleeping pad, head out to a nearby clearing, and set up for the first morning yoga session. After a strong morning stretch, we’ll fill our bellies with a delicious Alpengirl breakfast such as fresh blueberry pancakes served with bacon (YUM!)

After finishing up our intro to camp talks and having lunch, we’ll get suited up and ready for an exciting whitewater rafting trip on the Upper Skagit River! We’ll meet our rafting guides and float this pristine mountain river, with its clear and iridescent green water fresh off of the glaciers of southern British Columbia. This river is a mix between great natural scenery and a nice section of big fun waves in class II - III whitewater. You might decide to "ride the bull" on the bow of the raft through one of the rapids! During our rafting trip, we’ll learn about the rich archaeological and historical past that gives the river a near mystical feeling; the area was once home to the first human residents of the corridor, the Upper Skagit Tribe.

After rafting we’ll begin to prepare for our upcoming backpacking trip, which starts tomorrow. 

Days 3-8: It’s finally time to get out on the trail! After your Alpenguides give you a thorough tutorial on how to properly pack only the essentials, adjust and carry your backpack, we’ll jump in the van and drive to the trailhead to start our 41-mile roundtrip trekking expedition in North Cascades National Park.

By connecting a series of trails that go up and down mountains, follow the sides of glaciated peaks and wind along lakes and across streams, we’ll complete a six-day, five-night backpacking loop that allows us to experience the natural splendor found in the heart of the North Cascades National Park. We'll experience a couple of significant climbing days in this rugged country, building our muscles and earning our dinners. On our longest backpacking day, we are up at dawn and hitting the trail early in order to accomplish over 12 miles and make it to the town of Stehekin at the end of Lake Chelan (accessed only by foot, boat or plane) to arrive at the Stehekin Pastry Company before closing time and order up a fresh baked pastry or two! During our backpacking trip we'll also enjoy foraging for fresh blueberries and we’ll stay fresh and clean on our expedition by having an Alpenolympic Bucket Hair Washing competition during backpacking and perhaps even daring to jump into a mountain lake or stream!

Day 9: Our backpacking trip has come to a close and today we are on the Washington coast camping near Anacortes where we enjoy showers and laundry at our campsite and ready ourselves for the sea kayaking expedition that starts tomorrow. Tonight we’ll hope to enjoy a meal cooked over the campfire, including our favorite Alpentreat - s’mores!

Days 10-12: San Juans Islands here we come! We’ll take a morning ferry to arrive at Friday Harbor where we meet our friendly and knowledgable sea kayaking guides. The guides will help us pack our camping gear into boats, explain our route and provide us with an introduction to sea kayak paddling, handling and safety, and ocean features such as currents and wave patterns. Then, we’ll head out in our dual kayaks, with an Alpengirl at each helm! We’ll paddle most of the day through the San Juan channel to reach an island beach where we set up camp and watch the island sunset after dinner.

On day 2 of kayaking we’ll enjoy a full-day of paddling around the island or to another nearby island and have opportunities for learning about natural history, exploring the intertidal areas, going birding or appreciating other local wildlife knowledge that the guides have to share with us. This afternoon’s adventure may allow us to see eagles, herons, otters, and seals with pups. We could opt for a sunset sea kayak or sunset hike on this night. Pull out your costumes and warm up your singing voice, because the Alpenolympic Talent Show event may take place this evening, with the Pacific Ocean as the backdrop for our stage.

On our final day of kayaking, we’ll pack up our gear into the boats again and paddle back through a chain of island clusters and may stop for lunch at another island before returning to our starting point at Friday Harbor. From here we’ll head to a local private campground resort and re-group with showers and laundry and another fantastic island sunset together with friends. 

Day 13: A day to sleep-in! It’s been non-stop action and today is another big one with a few hours of souvenir shopping in the quant maritime town of Friday Harbor, followed by pizza party and our traditional end of session awards ceremony. Push on, we must! After a final ferry ride back to the mainland and a drive, we arrive at our campsite near Seattle for a final of night camping together.

Day 14: It’s time to go home! Exchanging hugs with your friends, you’ll depart from SeaTac International Airport in Seattle, WA, knowing that you’ve had a ton of fun and accomplished great things as an Alpengirl and will be a part of our fantastic community for life. See you next summer!

SPECIAL NOTE: This trip is suitable for a range of girls with moderate to considerable previous backpacking experience, with previous Alpengirl backpacking experience preferred. Girls should be aware that this is the most challenging backpacking itinerary offered by Alpengirl, due to the distance covered, elevation changes, number of consecutive days, amount of food and gear to be carried (including a bear-proof canister), and mental challenge of such a hike. Girls should be physically and mentally prepared to hike up to 12 miles per day with a backpack containing up to 1/3 body weight, across rugged terrain. The route is mountainous and involves dramatic changes in elevation, sometimes gaining or losing several thousand feet in a day. Prospective campers will be required to complete a pre-camp screening and speak with camp staff to assess readiness prior to registration. 

PLEASE NOTE: This is a sample itinerary. Alpengirl reserves the right to cancel or alter any aspect of our program, including program itinerary, trip dates, activities or location, as a result of unforeseen circumstances, including weather, environment, or health hazards. To the best of our ability, substitutions of activities will be comparable to, or better than the original activity. Parents will be notified by email if there are any significant itinerary changes.

Trip Campsites & Amenities

Six nights are spent in tents in public “front country” campgrounds where we have pre-assigned campsites with neighbors and campground hosts nearby, running potable water, and private outhouses or flushing toilets.

Seven nights are spent in tents in wilderness “back country” areas where we will purify our water before drinking and learn and practice basic Leave No Trace camping skills such as how to select a campsite, how to go to the bathroom, and keep clean outdoors. Most campsites while in the backcountry have an out of the way outhouse available to us.

Why Choose This Trip

This trip is for athletic outdoors girls with previous backpacking experience and a sincere desire for being off the beaten path while wearing plenty of smiles on those 40 miles :) It's the best of land and sea in the Pacific NW - a majority of the trip days are spent on multi-day expedition. If you are full of energy and adventure and have already proven your love for backpacking and being with others who enjoy the same, you won’t regret trying this one! Limited to 10 girls in the group.

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