Visiting the Ghost of Jack Kerouac on Desolation Peak

Where: North Cascades, Washington
When: August 2001
Partners: Rob Marshall
Mileage/Gain 9/4,800
Topo: Desolation Peak

CP in the Park Service hut atop Desolation Peak

Nestled deep in North Cascades National Park above Ross Lake is Desolation Peak. A beautiful 6,000+ peak with a delightful name. In a region of cool names like Fury, Starvation, Challenger, Freezeout, you get the idea. For the cool name and other reasons, I wanted to climb her.

In summer 2001, my buddy Rob Marshall and I hired a water taxi to take us 8 miles up Ross Lake and drop us on the forested shore of Desolation Peak. From there, it was 4,800 vertical feet to the summit. Fortunately, a trail existed for the ranger who worked up there in the summit hut looking for forest fires all summer.

Making good time up the mountain, despite a number of downed trees and feet that were already sore from 8 straight days playing in the mountains, we soon found ourselves on the summit. There, the views north to Hozomeen Mountain and south to Jack Mountain blew my mind! This was my introduction to the North Cascades, and I was immediately in love.