CASCADE PASS by EmilioSenesi. I warmly expected this day because I wished to meet again Clarence Elstad. On 9,00 am Clarence joined the group at the Buffalo Run Inn parking at Marblemount to lead the hike towards the Cascades Pass. However, after cheers, shaking hands and pats on the back, we didn’t have any more chance to chatter about the last 8 years: so much is the time passed from our last meeting. In facts, the large group of about 20 people was divided into two smaller ones; I was in the first group with George Whyel as leader, while Clarence led the second group. The trail first switchbacked up in the forest, then the path was covered by some spots of lingering snow. Most of us were surprised. I checked the altimeter and it showed an altitude of 1600 m. This is very unusual for us because in the Italian mountains the snow is found at around 2500 m in summer. After a couple of hour we arrived at the Cascades Pass (about 1800 m) where a gorgeous view welcomed us. We had a rest and got our lunch, that was prepared at the Buffalo Run Inn in the morning; then some of us went a little bit further – no more than 500 m because the steep trail was almost completely hidden by the snow – and saw a different view of the glaciers which draped the sides of the rocky peaks. In the meanwhile, the second part of the group got the Cascades Pass, however I had yet no chance to talk with Clarence because it was already the time to begin the return way to reach the parking lot. The hike was absolutely fascinating and very interesting; along the hiking and during the stay at the Cascades Pass, we had the chance to see some wild animals: deers, marmots and hawks. The hike was not too much long: the whole return trail took about 5 hours with a 600 m elevation gain and a 7.2 miles (about 11,5 km) length. I hope to have the chance to meet again Clarence Elstad in a next future and talk with him: maybe at the farewell dinner?
MAPLE PASS by Marcella Inga. During the drive we met a beautiful doe grazing the grass along the road. Such a handsome animal is not so easy to be seen in our roads in Italy, and it was a great emotion to watch her. After about an hour we get to the parking lot and here we begin to hike quickly, even to escape from clouds of very ugly mosquitoes. During the hike we stopped to see a marvelous blue lake at a distance, it had a white and blue iceberg floating on its surface, we took so many pictures! After a while the trail becomes more difficult and we coped with some steep snowy slopes. We begin getting up slowly, and a small group of us resolve to stop, while a second group goes bravely on toward the Pass. When they tried to reach the Pass the ranger stopped them saying it was too dangerous to go on without an ice axe. After lunch we decide to go back. But on our way back Patrizia and me bathed our tired and painful feet in the iced water of a stream. After that, back to our cars, we get to the lodge. What a wonderful day we had!