The corridor where WA 20 crosses North Cascades National Park is called the Ross Lake National Recreation Area. The road follows the path of the Skagit River (rhymes with 'gadget') with towering mountains on either side. It's a beautiful drive with some creative road building.
We found a site in Colonial Creek campground that was big enough and even had quite a bit of sun for the solar panels. Unfortunately, we didn't have any phone or internet service, but you can't have everything. The weather was pretty perfect, although we did hear a few rumblings of thunder our first night there.
We knew there was a large fire in the park, but that it was pretty far south of our location. But we didn't completely escape the smoke/haze, which was evident at our first stop the next morning, the Diablo Lake overlook.
We went for a short hike down to Ruby Creek.
Where I saw this blurry guy swimming across the creek.
I yelled for Ron to come quickly and he identified it as a mink! And he should know since his uncle had a mink farm and he helped care for them several summers when he was a lad.
Another blurry picture. It really moved quickly.
We stopped at the overlook for Ross Lake which extends 24 miles to the Canadian border. Uh-oh, it looks like another fire there in the distance.
I think we need to come back earlier in the summer when these lovely peaks are snow-covered and before fire season.
We had signed up for a dinner/tour called 'Newhalem at Night'. After a 'Dam Good Chicken Dinner', we headed out for our walking tour and were greeted by the sight of another fire up on the ridge.
We learned about the Skagit Hydroelectric Project which consists of three dams in the valley - Ross, Diablo, and Gorge. Then we wandered through the unusual light show at Ladder Creek Falls.
It seems that Mr. Ross, who was in charge of the project in the early 1900s, wanted to show off a beautiful use of electricity. Here is a short video of the changing colors on the water.
Needless to say, the next morning we got the heck out of there. Ironically, we were so happy to have a fire ban in the campground, but nobody told Mother Nature that lightning strikes were not allowed.