As a first-timer traveling on the Cascade Loop, I am excited to explore this famed region of Washington state. Driving east on Rte 20 (aka the North Cascades Highway) from Sedro-Woolley, pouring rain follows me from Concrete to Rockport. Precipitation eases a bit as I inched along the Skagit River, stopping ever so often to photograph bursting waterfalls and wispy clouds swirling about lakes and mountains. Climbing in altitude, at nearly 5500 feet, the Washington Pass Overlook offers stunning views of the majestic Liberty Bell Mountain, Early Winters Spires and Kangaroo Ridge. As I make my way towards Mazama and the the Methow Valley, blue skies peek through gray clouds.