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Jessi Loerch | jloerch@heraldnet.com
Published: Tuesday, July 23, 2013, 4:10 p.m.

Stay in the heart of the North Cascades

  • Canoeing is one of the many activities offered at base camp.

    Jessi Loerch

    Canoeing is one of the many activities offered at base camp.

  • These raspberry cream tarts are in the top 10 of most delicious things I've ever eaten.

    Jessi Loerch

    These raspberry cream tarts are in the top 10 of most delicious things I've ever eaten.

This weekend, I took a little trip up to the North Cascades. A friend and I stayed at the North Cascades Environmental Learning Center.

We were trying out the base camp program. I can highly recommend it. We did not want to leave.

I'm going to write a longer story about it later. For now, though, I wanted to share a few quick highlights.

  • According to the learning center staff, your tongue will go numb if you lick a banana slug. We did not find any banana slugs on our trip. Otherwise I would have tried it to see if they were just messing with me. I'm not sure if that makes me brave or gullible. Maybe both?
  • The food alone is worth the trip. For dinner, we had some fabulous food, nearly all of it from local farmers. The staff at the center gets shipments of whatever is fresh from local farms and then uses their considerable skills to create something delicious out of it. With dinner there were three different desserts featuring fresh raspberries: raspberry cream tarts, raspberry tarts and angel food cake with fresh raspberries and whipped cream. There are not words to describe how delicious they were.
  • Canoeing is fun.
  • The library at the learning center is gorgeous. It's jammed with books that outdoorsy folk would love. And it has a giant banana slug. (Don't lick it. It's just wood.)
  • Diablo Lake is breathtaking. If you've been up there, I don't need to tell you that. I can't get enough of that incredible green color.
  • Diablo is also literally breathtaking. I jumped in to verify this. My lungs were angry at me.
  • The partnership between Seattle City Light and the learning center is pretty fascinating. Sure, dams have a big environmental effect. But without that dam, the learning center would not be there -- Seattle City Light paid for it. The staff mentioned that some people gripe about the power lines disrupting the views. But without the power lines, it'd be a very different place. It's an interesting story.
If you want to try out base camp for yourself, you can learn more here. In short, it's a chance to stay at the learning center when they have space in their rooms. You can do whatever you like. The staff is very flexible and will help you find something that matches your interests. Or you can just do your own thing and simply take advantage of the great food and a cozy place to sleep.

Story tags » Outdoor RecreationGo See Do

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