Vetting the Boyfriend (on Cashmere Mountain)
by Andy Dappen
Some would argue with a name like ‘Andy’ he must be a fabulous person. I’m usually part of this camp but, in this case, the ‘Andy’ in question is the boyfriend of my daughter so the standards for his evaluation are higher than name alone.

When Heather asks whether the other significant Andy in her life can join us on an overnight trip to climb Cashmere Mountain, I play it cool. “Hmmm,” I say, pretending I’m thinking it over. “I guess that would be okay if he’s interested.” In my head I’m rubbing my hands in anticipation. “Now we’ll see what you’re made of Mr. Andy!”

To be sure, what I already know about Heather’s beau speaks well of him. There’s the obvious stuff – he treats my daughter caringly, he treats his girlfriend’s parents respectfully, he is well educated, he comes from a stable family that shares most our values, and he landed a good first job immediately out of college in a terrible market. Those are all promising indicators that we should think well of him.

I also know he’s an excellent downhill skier, strong mountain biker, a good ice hockey player, and a terrific guitarist, which says a lot – not only about being multi-dimensional but about finding activities that bring joy, balance, stress relief, and a connection to nature.

These are all admirable qualities but it’s also important to grasp the mettle of a man. At the core is he upbeat or dark, a team player or self-centered, stoic or whiny? Does he pitch in when he sees something needing doing or does he always need to be assigned tasks? When he’s pushed beyond his comfort level does he find inner strength or fall apart? In difficult situations can he pay attention to his own needs while paying attention to the needs of others?

Outdoor trips with their stew of bugs, blisters, weather extremes, and dangers place people outside of their day-to-day comfort levels and cut to the quick in revealing a person’s nature.


We’re up early and Andy keeps pace with the preparatory process. Once his pack is ready he asks spontaneously what else needs doing. Same applies at the trailhead; he takes care of his business and then switches seamlessly to group mode.

We walk up the trail to Little Eightmile Lake in the heat of a mid-July morning and he keeps pace, chatting amiably as he walks. He follows well and, when he gets the lead, walks at a pace that keeps us all together rather than racing ahead to display the superiority of his fitness. At the lake, I suggest a quick dip to cool off before the climb ahead and he’s a seize-the-moment participant rather than a what-a-hassle killjoy.

Photo: Love blooming like mountain flowers.

A few hours later when we’re approaching Little Lake Caroline he asks whether we can stop for a few minutes to bandage a ‘hot spot’ on his foot. Actually the spot has already gone a bit south of ‘hot.’ He should have taken the machismo hit a mile or two earlier to keep a problem from becoming a problem. I don’t know this yet so I credit the lad for having the good sense to speak up.

After a tape job, the remainder of our walk to a camp at the 7,000-foot level goes along swimmingly well with our guest giving plenty of praise to our East Slope views out over the Enchantments and the Stuart Range. Whether he feels an affinity to this area or whether he simply recognizes the area is important to his company, he plays his cards nicely.

Right: How can you not appreciate the East-Slope scenery? Below Left: And how can you not appreciate the East-Slope girls?


We leave camp around 7:30 a.m. by sunshine and reach Cashmere Mountain’s west summit an hour later in clouds. Some might moan about losing the views but Andy makes lemonade of the situation and comments appreciatively about the fleeting mysterious glimpses of the rock towers along the nearby ridge. From the west summit, we move over to the main summit and, here, I have the pleasure of taking this young man outside his normal comfort level. Although he is athletic, he hasn’t climbed much. We cross a snow slope where a slip will end badly in a rapid slide into boulders a hundred yards below. I kick good steps and, when he follows, rather than displaying that he can skip across carefree in danger’s face, he takes each step deliberately to avoid mistakes of consequence.

Farther along, we scramble up an easy but exposed gulley system toward the summit. I’ve coached him to go at his own pace and to test iffy foot placements and handholds before committing to them. I’ve also mentioned the importance of not setting rocks in motion where they will become missiles for those below. Andy moves slower than Heather and I appreciate that he doesn’t hurry beyond his own comfort level to keep pace. I ask him several times how he’s feeling and he lies slightly. “Okay,” he says out loud. His eyes say something different like, “What are we doing here?”

I have a rope along and can give Andy and Heather a belay should the confidence of either falter, or if I lose confidence in how safely they are moving. Both, however, move competently upward until we’re at the summit. Andy enjoys this perch in the sky, the fact that our earlier clouds have lifted, the long views, and the warm summer sunshine. Despite the earlier misgivings, perhaps a hook has been set.

We reverse our route and, looking on down on where we need to go, we can find slightly easier options for descending the gulley system. Soon we’ve reversed the last real hazard. “Thanks so much for taking us up there,” he says when we’re walking back to camp on easy ground. “I really enjoyed that.”

Wanderen in die bergen mit dem blumen ** — Andy teaching Heather German as we stroll back to camp (** to anyone who really speaks German, apologies for my translation).

The rest of the day is as much a race as a hike. So that Andy can drive back to Tacoma at a reasonable hour and be ready for work the next day, I set a fast pace down from camp. His legs have bled a lot of salt over the weekend and they are cramping occasionally, yet there are no complaints. Later, Heather takes the lead and she walks just as fast. Andy shows no weakness of spirit or limp of step indicating he’d like to slow down.

Back at the car when we remove boots for more comfortable footwear, he tears off the tape covering his hot spots. Heather wanders over to take a look. There’s a quarter–sized blister on one heel. “Ouch,” she says. “Why didn’t you say something about that?”

He doesn’t fuss over the minor suffering he’s been subjected to – he accepts that pain is sometimes the flip side of gain. “Looks worse than it is,” he says. “In a few days it will be gone.”

Later, Andy worries aloud to Heather, “Do you think your parents like me?” Apparently we’re playing our cards so close to our chests that we’re enigmatic. He’ll figure us out in time. For now the weekend has given me a telling look at who he is. Perhaps I was foolish to worry that with such a name he could be anything but the quintessential paradigm of fine character, but I feel much better having measured him against the yardstick of the mountains.

Photo Right: Oh yeah — a good companion for Heather also needs to be goofy.

Details, Details: Climbing Cashmere Mountain

Hiking and mountaineering.

Difficulty: Hikers will find the scramble to the top of Cashmere to be an advanced hike (difficulty of 4). Mountaineers, on the other hand, will call this an easy scramble (difficulty of 1+ or 2-). In late spring through mid-summer there may be steep snow to traverse that could require crampons and an ice axe. The final 300 vertical feet of the climb is third-class scrambling (you’ll use  hands and feet but experienced climbers will not require a rope). Parts of this final scramble are exposed and losing your balance here could end badly.

Fitness: Done as an overnight trip this requires slightly better than intermediate fitness (2+). As a day trip it requires advanced fitness (3).

Distance: It’s roughly 8.5 to 9 miles from the Eightmile Lake Trailhead to the summit. Heading up the Goat Highway (see our map) is actually considerably shorter and more direct but this cross-country route can turn into a brush thrash if you don’t hit the goat trails right that lead up to the 5,600-foot level.

Elevation: 5,300 vertical foot gain.

Access: From Leavenworth take the Icicle River Road approximately 8 miles to the Bridge Creek Campground. Turn left on Road 7601 (Eightmile Road), cross the bridge over the Icicle Creek, and follow the road about 3 miles to the well-signed trailhead for Eightmile Lake). A Northwest Forest Pass is required to park.

Trip Instructions:

  • The first 2.8 miles of this hike is the same trail (#1552) leading to Eightmile Lake.
  • At Little Eightmile Lake find the trail intersection and branch right on Trail #1554 leading to Lake Caroline. Follow the trail uphill to Lake Caroline, then onward to Little Lake Caroline (about 2.25 miles to Lake Caroline and 2.75 miles to Little Lake Caroline). Both Lake Caroline and Little Lake Caroline have good campsites but both are also in the Enchantments Camping Permit Area and require permits for camping. Info about camping permits.
  • From Little Lake Caroline follow the trail another 0.8 miles toward Windy Pass. At an elevation of 6,850 feet, leave the trail and walk cross country in an easterly direction climbing slightly. After 0.5 miles and at the 7,100 foot level, there’s good camping (see our map).
  • From this camp, climb in a NNE direction up to the col on the west side of Cashmere Mountain (8,000 feet). Stay on Cashmere’s west ridge up to 8,200 feet then make a flat contour several hundred yards around to the Northwest side of the summit pyramid to a northwest-facing gulley. Climb this to the summit.

Map. See our topo map of this route below.

Allowed.  Hiking, climbing, skiing. This is in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness so no motorized vehicles, no mountain bikes, and no pets are allowed.

Special Gear. Although usually needed in late summer an ice axe is recommended for climbing to the summit. A helmet is also a good idea. If climbing in spring, crampons are recommended. Approach shoes would be adequate in late summer but a lightweight boot is recommended if you’re likely to encounter any snow.

More Info. Contact Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest: Wenatchee River Ranger District Leavenworth, 509-548-2550.

Permits. A Northwest Forest Pass is needed for parking at the trailhead. Fill out and carry a self-issue wilderness permit at the trailhead.

Leave It Better than You Found It. This should be every user’s goal. Pick up trash left by others, pull noxious weeds along your route, throw branches over unwanted spur trails, etc.

Disclaimer. Treat this information as recommendations, not gospel. Conditions change and those contributing these reports are volunteers–they may make mistakes or not know all the issues affecting a route. You are responsible for yourself, your actions, and your safety. If you won’t accept that responsibility, you are prohibited from using our information.

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