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”!
DatesJul 28 - Aug 10, 2024
Ages14-16 (rising 9th-11th)
Tuition$3945 (airfare not incl.)
- 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
I love the camp sessions that I did. I did 2 in Montana and 1 in Washington in a row and had a blast all summer! It was my first time doing it, Alpengirl and backpacking in general and I loved it. I would definitely go back next year, and most likely be an Alpengirl intern. I...
Summer Teen Travel Adventure Camp in Northwest Washington
Experience a world-class outdoor playground on this Washington Adventure Camp for teens! Washington State is full of gems and the San Juan Islands and the North Cascade Mountains (aka the “American Alps”) are right at the top of the list.
This journey is one of both land and sea. Alpengirls will begin their adventure exploring the North Cascades, both by river and on an epic 5-day backpacking trip through the mountains of the Pacific Northwest. We’ll continue the excitement on the coast 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, while keeping our eyes peeled for wildlife sightings – orcas, seals, and eagles, oh my!
For two weeks, each camper will be immersed in nature and become very comfortable with adventure that exists away from traditional campgrounds, while having the time of their life!
Day 1: Welcome to Alpengirl!
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 abound before you and your new expedition mates hop in the van and drive to our 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: Let’s go rafting!
Waking up refreshed and renewed, you’ll grab your sleeping pad, head out to a nearby clearing, and set up for our first daily morning yoga session. After a strong morning stretch, we’ll fill our bellies with a delicious Alpengirl breakfast – maybe fresh blueberry pancakes served with warm maple syrup, 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 to 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 breathtaking natural scenery and a class II-III whitewater section of big fun waves. On the river, we’ll learn about the rich archaeological history that gives the river a near-mystical feeling; this river corridor was once home to the first human residents of the area, the Upper Skagit Tribe.
After rafting, we’ll head into North Cascades National Park to camp and prepare for ourselves mentally and physically for backpacking!
Days 3-8: Backpacking time!
It’s finally time to get out on the trail! After your Alpenguides give you a thorough tutorial about packing only the essentials and how to adjust and carry your backpacks, we’ll jump in the van and drive to the trailhead to start our 38-mile trekking expedition.
By connecting a series of trails that go up and down mountains, follow the sides of rugged peaks, and wind around alpine lakes and streams, we’ll complete a six-day, five-night backpacking loop that allows us to experience the natural splendor of the heart of North Cascades National Park. On our biggest (and tastiest!) day, we are up at dawn and hit the trail early in order to gain the 12 miles to the end of Lake Chelan (accessed only by foot, boat, or plane) to arrive at the Stehekin Pastry Company before closing time for a fresh-baked pastry or two!
During our backpacking trip, we'll enjoy foraging for fresh blueberries, singing silly trail songs, and we’ll stay fresh and clean with an Alpenolympic Bucket Hair Washing competition or perhaps even daring to jump into a mountain lake or stream!
Day 9: Ahh…relaxation
Our backpacking trip has come to a close and today we are on the Washington Coast and camping near Anacortes, where we’ll enjoy showers and do laundry at our campsite to ready ourselves for the sea kayaking expedition that starts tomorrow.
Days 10-12: To the sea!
San Juan Islands here we come! We’ll take a morning ferry to arrive at Friday Harbor, where we meet our friendly and knowledgeable sea kayaking guides. Our guides will help us pack camping gear into boats, explain our route, and provide us with an introduction to paddling, handling, and safety. We’ll then head out in our tandem kayaks, with an Alpengirl at each helm! We’ll paddle through the San Juan Channel to reach an island beach, where we’ll 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 perhaps to another nearby island, and have opportunities for learning about natural history, exploring the intertidal areas, going birding, and appreciating the 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 – maybe even with pups! On this evening, campers may have the opportunity to choose between a sunset sea kayak or a sunset hike to stretch the legs. Tonight we’ll hope to enjoy a meal cooked over the campfire, including our favorite Alpentreat – s’mores! Pull out your costumes and warm up your singing voice, because the Alpenolympic Talent Show event may take place this evening around the campfire.
On our final day of kayaking, we’ll pack up our gear and paddle back through a chain of island clusters 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 an afternoon in downtown Friday Harbor, followed by a pizza party and our traditional End of Session Awards ceremony. After a final ferry ride back to the mainland, we’ll drive to our campsite near Seattle for a final night of 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 girls with previous successful multi-day backpacking trip experience. Compared to our other Alpengirl backpacking trips, this is a more challenging itinerary due to the distances covered, elevation changes, number of consecutive backcountry days, amount of food and gear to be carried, and the mental challenge of such an adventure. Girls should be prepared and eager to hike 5-12 miles each day with a backpack containing up to one-third of their body weight, across rugged terrain with significant changes in elevation.
PLEASE NOTE: Alpengirl reserves the right to cancel or alter any aspect of a program, before or during the session, including program itinerary, activities, or location for reasons including but not limited to weather, environment, logistics, or health hazards. If itinerary changes occur, we will substitute comparable alternatives, if possible. If there are significant itinerary changes, parents will be notified by email.
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 “backcountry” areas where we will purify our water before drinking and learn to 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 in the backcountry have an out-of-the-way outhouse available to us.
Why Choose This Trip
This trip is for the athletic, outdoorsy camper with some previous multi-day backpacking experience and a sincere desire to be off the beaten path, ready to share plenty of smiles on those 40 miles :) It's the best of land and sea in the Pacific Northwest – a majority of trip days are spent on multi-day expeditions. If you are full of energy and adventure and have already proven your love for backpacking, you won’t regret trying this one! Ideal for returning Alpengirls who already know they love backpacking and have developed their skills with us on previous adventures. Limited to 10 campers in the group.
PLEASE NOTE: This is Alpengirl’s most advanced trip and requires experience with multi-day backpacking trips. Please contact the office if you have any questions regarding this requirement.