Into the Cascades

(Self-Identifying Girls and non-binary youth only)

Ages 12-15

July 8th- 13th, 2019

Monday to Saturday

Join us as we travel Into the Cascades for this 5-night, 6-day adventure and leadership camp, where we will embark on a learning journey up Mt. Adams, a 12,280 foot snowy-peaked stratovolcano in the Cascade Mountain Range. 


Students will learn how to travel safely as a group in the backcountry as they traverse challenging terrain. Students will camp under the stars on the side of Mt. Adams, backpack and mountaineer on mountain trails, snow fields and whitewater raft the world-class White Salmon River.


This camp combines outdoor skills, leadership development, environmental science concepts, outdoor adventure, and an appreciation for the power of nature. No prior backpacking experience  necessary. We open this program to all self-identifying girls and non-binary youth to address the gender/ diversity gap in science careers by providing exposure to pressing environmental studies and individuals in science careers in the Gorge.

Amidst building our backcountry skills and knowledge we will spend time on service projects as stewards of the land, members of our community, individuals on a journey of personal growth.


Find a sample gear/packing list in our For Parents tab under 'backpacking gear list'. Program specific gear/packing lists will be sent 4-weeks before the program start date

Dates: Monday, July 8 to Saturday, July 13, 2019 

Ages: Any self-identifying girl and non-binary youth (ages 12-15)

Activities: Backpacking, Hiking, Camping, Rafting, Environmental Science and Exploration, Whitewater Rafting, Leadership

Instructor: Kelly O'Dowd, Outdoor Leader and Environmental Educator

Accommodations: Our first night “basecamp” will be at our Forest Campus of the Mt. Adams Institute in Trout Lake, WA. From there, we will spend two nights backpacking on Mt. Adams. Our last two nights will be back at the Mt. Adams Institute campus.

Cost:$975 per student ($925 if you register before April 1st)  Need-based scholarships are available.


Kelly O'Dowd

Environmental Educator

Kelly grew up as the middle daughter of a big family in New Jersey. She graduated college with a degree in International Relations and Anthropology. Her interest in the global network of people and places led her to an environmental study abroad experience and her own independent travel adventures. These experiences began to shape a passionate steward of the environment, driven by the curiosity to understand our world. Kelly has worked with children in traditional and experiential capacities over the years and enjoys the chance to share her love of nature through outdoor education in all CMS programs. Kelly moved to Washington two years ago to join the CMS team, where she shares her excitement for exploring new environments and personal growth with students of any age.


Monday, July 8. Where are we? Why are we here? Sense of Place. We will meet at Mt. Adams Institute where we will be staying for the duration of our camp.  Once we’ve done some brief introductions and eaten lunch, we will go on a beautiful and dramatic hike at the base of Mt. Adams to get to a viewpoint where we can get a sense for our place in the valley. We will learn about the ecology of the area, get to know each other, and begin the fun.  In the evening we will cook our first meal together.


Tuesday, July 9. Introduction to Outdoor Leadership-Backpacking 101.  After breakfast and a morning team-building activity, we’ll begin our exploration of Mt. Adams, a Stratovolcano that rises 12,282 feet above sea level. The first day will be a three-mile hike into the Mt. Adams Wilderness to our campsite along a stream. During this hike, we’ll practice hiking as a group, assessing our personal needs, and tuning our keen senses to mountain ecology. Once we reach our camp, we’ll set up camp and learn the essential skills of backpacking: water purification, shelter, food, and Leave No Trace.  

Wednesday, July 10. Intro to Mt. Adams—Volcanoes, Glaciers, and Rivers, Oh My! The fresh morning mountain air will greet us as we continue to practice backpacking skills. Today, we’ll support each other as we hike up the very popular South Climb Trail for about four steep miles to the edge of Crescent Glacier around 8,000 ft. Along the way, we’ll learn about the geological formations that hold glaciers on Mt. Adams, and in turn, how the glaciers shape the mountain and feed the White Salmon River. We’ll discuss the impact of climate change on glaciers and the watershed. Throughout the day, we’ll practice our leadership skills as we hike, look out for each other, and celebrate even the small achievements. We’ll return to our camp along the creek for our second night on the mountain, cook dinner, and enjoy the starry night sky

Thursday, July 11. Intro to Field Ecology—Observations and Experimentation.Before we head off the mountain, we will learn basic field ecology skills and put them into practice through an investigation of the regrowth and revegetation of the Mt. Adams Wilderness after a forest fire burned parts of the wilderness area in 2015. We’ll practice recording field observations, designing experiments, and communicating science knowledge. After spending the morning on Mt. Adams, we’ll hike back out to our van and return to the Mt. Adams Institute Forest Campus.

Friday, July 12. Traveling the Watershed-Intro to Whitewater Rafting. The mountain doesn’t stop at its base, and so Thursday morning, we’ll head to our put-in on the Klickitat River with Cascadia Adventure Education. The Klickitat begins at the glaciers on the eastern side of Mt. Adams and winds its way through canyons. On the lower Klickitat, which primarily consists of Class 2 and 3 rapids, we’ll learn the basics of whitewater rafting and river navigation. We’ll also take careful note of the ecology and geology of the Klickitat River watershed using our newly honed field science skills for a comparison to the White Salmon River on Friday.

Saturday, July 13. Sense of Self-Bringing the Experience Home. On our final full day, we will synthesize all that we have learned, our hopes and dreams for the future, and what we want to take away from our experience.  In the morning, we’ll arrive at the site of the old Northwestern Lake, a reservoir formed by the dam downstream. With the dam’s removal, the lake has been returned to its natural state of a river. We will work with Jeanette Burkhardt, Watershed Planner for the Yakama Nation Fisheries to help with native plant restoration efforts along the banks of the river. She will help interpret the ecology of the river, including key salmon issues, and discuss the recent de-commissioning of the Condit Dam, a 100-year old dam removed in 2011.  We will finish the day rafting the Lower Section of the river.  Parents will pick up at 4pm.


Cascade Mountain School, a program of Mt. Adams Institute

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