To harness the power of the Skagit River, dams were built to generate power. We visited two of them today.
Gorge Lake is just a short drive from the Newhalem campground. The emerald green lake lays in the valley like a jade ribbon wrapping around the mountains. The beautiful color comes from the “glacial melt” in the water that is silt deposited on the riverbed, reflecting more light in the green and blue spectrum.
A plain looking steel bridge crosses the gorge. To find out the view from the bridge, we set our feet on it. As we walked a little further, my limbs became weak from seeing the deep gorge beneath through the gaps of chained steel under the feet and the vibrations from the passing vehicles. I grabbed the rail of the bridge and tipped toed. But the view was breathtaking. A long and narrow waterfall likes a long white necklace falling from the mountain along the cleft and into the gorge. Another smaller falling water is on the lower end of the gorge. The deep green lake sits peacefully at the mouth of the gorge. I was afraid of the great height at first. As I walked further down the bridge without looking down, I got used to the height. But after I took my iPhone out of the pocket, I was afraid of dropping my phone from the big openings of the side of the bridge. The gorgeous view of the lake and the waterfalls worth the walk on the bridge however.
Lake Diablo is a lot bigger lake than the Lake Gorge. We drove across the Diablo Dam and parked by the lake. The surface of the lake mirrors the mountains, the power towers, the trees, the dock, the boat, and the ferries. The northern sky was blanket by thick white clouds where snow-capped peaks touch the clouds and the clouds hug the peaks. The white glaciers and the clouds blended in at some point. We waited and waited for the clouds to dissipate, but the nearest high peak was so shy to unveil its face to us. The tour boat broke up the tranquility. A ferry carried trucks followed. The Diablo Dam holds the lake above the deep gorge.
We stopped by the general store at Newhalem and got two bundles of fire wood. An old steam engine number 6 sat by the road. It served from 1927 until 1954 carrying supplies and equipment for the construction of dams and powerhouses, and brought workers and tourists to the area.
Taking a walk down the trail that leads to the water near the campsite, we found out it was not Skagit River but Newhalem Creek. It is a happy cascading creek that adds to the sound and beauty of this place.
The amphitheater was filled with earnest learners at 7:30 in the evening. The young lady ranger told us the forces that shaped the jagged Picket Range. The Picket Range is the last mapped mountain range of the U.S. in the lower 48. The average elevation of the North Cascade mountains is 5000 feet. The moist from the Pacific Ocean brings over 130 inches of precipitation a year to the west of North Cascade Range. Due to the high elevation, glacier formed in the mountains. The glacier ground the terrain and shaped the jagged Picket Range. There are 312 glaciers in the North Cascade Range, the most glaciers found in the America other than Alaska. However, the glaciers are receding in an alarming speed. We shall all do our part to preserve the glacier for its beauty and importance in our lives.