The North Cascades Canoeing and Backpacking course is an extraordinary expedition that combines beautiful environments and challenging activities with an intensive curriculum emphasizing leadership, character development and an ethic of service. Crews will journey by canoe and by foot deep into the heart of Washington’s stunning North Cascades mountains. In addition to learning technical skills in canoeing and alpine backpacking, students will learn methods of communication, conflict resolution and decision-making. Over the course of the 15 days, students will learn much more about who they are and what they are capable of facing, while overcoming challenges with the other members of their crew.
This course is closed for the season. 2020 courses coming soon.
Are you ready to take a journey that will change your life? You won’t look at day-to-day drama the same way after you’ve conquered a high mountain ridge, made a boat obey your command in windswept waves or slept under the stars watching bats swoop overhead. Joining an Outward Bound expedition changes you. Your crew, your Instructor, your route and your adventures will have a profound and lasting impact on you as you rise to meet exhilarating natural challenges in some of the country’s wildest places.
After you come home, many of the character, leadership and service traits you uncovered on your expedition stay with you, helping you navigate your daily life with more resilience and success.
During the alpine backpacking section of the course, students will work together to explore the high mountain landscape of the North Cascades. Heading into the high country that surround Ross Lake, students will learn the essentials of backcountry mountain travel necessary to carry them into remote meadows and high mountain vistas, including navigation with map and compass, Leave No Trace® camp craft, and backcountry cooking. Depending on the group and the conditions, students may attempt to summit one of the many rugged alpine peaks in the area. Peak attempts often start pre-dawn and require a high degree of personal and group tenacity.
During the canoeing section of the course, students trade their backpacks for canoes and travel along Ross Lake in the middle of the North Cascades of Washington. Students will learn the essentials of canoeing including boat packing, basic paddle strokes, rescues, and navigation. Campsites are sometimes on very small islands in the middle of the lake, and the panoramic surroundings are visually stunning.
Service to others and to the environment is a core value of Outward Bound and is integrated into each course. Groups follow Leave No Trace ethics as part of their service to the environment and engage in acts of service while leading and supporting fellow participants. Seeing the impact of their actions firsthand, students develop an ingrained appreciation of service and transfer this desire to serve their communities back home.
In order for profound learning to take place, students need time to reflect on their experience, and Solo is that opportunity. The Solo experience provides an important break from the rigors of the expedition and gives students the opportunity to reflect on their Outward Bound experience. With sufficient food and equipment, students will set up camp at sites of their own, using the wilderness skills learned during the first portions of the course. The amount of time students spend on Solo is based on length of course, weather, student condition, age, and Instructor preference. Solo campsites are chosen to offer as much solitude as possible (yet be within emergency whistle-signaling distance of other group members). Most students spend their Solo time journaling, drawing, reflecting, thinking and resting as they process lessons of the course to focus on their goals for the future. Instructors check on each participant at regular intervals, as safety is always the top priority.
This course provides an opportunity for students to learn and practice the ideas of leadership, character development, and service that are integral to Outward Bound. Students will develop and apply these skills in an expedition setting so that they can continue to grow once they return home. As a team, each group will work together to complete difficult tasks necessary for backcountry travel and expedition living. Instructors will work to challenge each student to try new things and step outside their comfort zones, as well as provide feedback that can be acted upon before course end.
Ross Lake, Washington
Accessible only by boat or trail, this glacier-fed lake borders the dramatic Picket Mountain Range. Ross Lake is 25 miles long, and extends all the way into Canada. It is nestled in the North Cascades National Park and the Pasayten Wilderness Area. The nearby Jack and Hozomeen mountains rise 9,066 and 8,066 feet respectively, soaring up out of the lake and crowning it with jagged ridge-tops. This part of the park is known for the stunning blue-green shade of the water and for the sheer cliff faces and deep glacially carved valleys. The area was made famous by the Beat Generation writer, Jack Kerouac whose writings were inspired by his work as a fire spotter at the Desolation Peak Lookout on the east side of Ross Lake. Throughout your days on the lake, you may encounter any one of hundreds of natural wonders, including waterfalls flowing into the lake from the glaciers above, eagles soaring overhead in search of trout and miraculously clear blue waters.
The North Cascades, Washington
The North Cascades are called the “American Alps” for their rugged beauty and glaciated peaks. They remain some of the wildest and most unrestrained wilderness in the United States. The North Cascades host the greatest concentration of glaciers in the “Lower 48” and are full of high mountain meadows peppered with wild flowers. The Outward Bound course area hosts some of the most stunning alpine climbing and backpacking routes in the United States. Our backpacking programs operate in the Pasayten Wilderness and North Cascades National Park on the east side of the North Cascades and receive significantly less rainfall than the western coast of Washington.
If you are ready to enroll on a course click the enroll button next to the course you wish to select or you can enroll over the phone by speaking with one of our Admissions Advisors (toll-free) at 866-467-7651.