Washington Cascades Trip - December 6-9, 2002

This trip is rated 5 boots out of 5 on the Hiking Boot-o-meter.

On Friday morning, much to Sue's surprise and astonishment, instead of heading to Kirkland for another day at work, we headed up Highway 2 to Stevens Pass, Forest Road 6700, and the Lake Valhalla trailhead.

The snow was too thin for showshoes, and the clouds obscured the view, but it was still a wonderful day for a snow hike.

Here Sue models her goofy hat and new bright red gloves.

This isn't snow but hoar frost - the moisture in the air freezes and forms ice.

Snow on some late berries.

Here's Sue on the shore of Lake Valhalla

We had lunch standing by the lake, and attracted a number of birds looking for something to eat.

Horizontal hoar frost created by blowing wind.

After 7 miles in the snow, we finally got back to the Mazda and pressed onward toward Leavenworth, then up Highway 97 to Chelan and our night's accommodations on the lake.

Campbell's Resort in Chelan - this is the view from our balcony on which it was too cold to sit, but the view was quite nice.  We recommend this place - ask for a top floor room with fireplace in either building 1 or 3.

The next morning in downtown Winthrop - Conner and Roanoke enjoyed visiting Winthrop's hometown.   

Up Highway 20 from Wnthrop and Mazama, the apparent 'snow line' was actually an 'ice line' created by the fog that had filled the valley earlier.

Icicles in the roadcut.

Looking down from just below Washington Pass toward Mazama.  When we drove back down at the end of the day this valley was completely filled with fog.

Near the (snowed in) viewpoint at Washington Pass, we finally had deep enough snow to deploy the snowshoes for the first time this winter.

As the sun went down and the air temperature dropped, the meadow filled with ground fog...

...which froze and covered the trees with a layer of ice.

Sue's look of surprised astonishment lasted well into the third day.  Here she is on Sunday morning, still amazed to find herself on a surprise birthday trip.

We decided not to spend the day on the boat from Chelan to Stehekin and back, and instead drove back toward Wenatchee and went looking for the night's B&B - The Warm Springs Inn - on Highway 2 between Wenatchee and Leavenworth.  We loved this place, especially the German Apple Pancake breakfast we were to enjoy the next morning.

We headed up to the Mission Ridge Ski Area which was not yet open (due to lack of snow) and had about 20' visibility.  We scoped out the snowshoeing opportunities for next time, then headed back down the snowy, icy, slippery, steep hill, on which Sue got (i.e. was forcefully asked) to get behind the wheel and get used to AWD and ABS in slippery conditions for future reference.  We turned off onto a Forest Service road and drove around in the trees for a while, then got out and hiked for a while on a closed FS road.

The goofy new "Duck Shootin' hat with floppy ear muffs" was first pressed into service on this trip.  According to Sue, it makes the wearer look like Goober on the old Andy Griffith Show.

We headed back to Leavenworth for the Christmas Lighting Festival, stopping for a romantic flashlight-lit dinner in the Mazda, catered by the Safeway Deli Department.  Here Sue is hardly able to contain her excitement, knowing that the big switch will soon be thrown, lighting up all the Christmas trees as the throng sings 'Oh, Tannenbaum'.  We ducked into a Starbuck's to quickly grab a cup of coffee on the way to the village square, but were, alas, not quick enough - while we were inside they hit the switch, the lights all came on, and we missed the magic moment.  We'll try again next year perhaps...



and more lights.

Any charm once possessed by Leavenworth is now pretty well gone.  Amongst the plastic Coo-Coo Clocks and Christmas Nutcrackers, we discovered shops brimming with crude t-shirts and posters, and even a shop full of tacky hats.  But not being ones to squander opportunity when it presents itself, we tried on various hats, including parrots, fish, flamingoes, and the very nicely turned out shark hat modeled above.  After much discussion (it was a bit pricey), we decided to stop the next morning and picked up one of the shark hats in preparation for the next Jimmy Buffett concert which we might attend.

Then back to the B&B for a relaxing evening spent by the fire in the sitting room, talking with our hosts and reading.

The next morning we drove up along Icicle Creek, and found a nice trail that went straight up to Icicle Ridge - a total climb of 4600'.  We turned around after about an hour and 15 minutes when the trail started to get rocky and slippery, although it meant stopping, we suspect, somewhat short of the 4600' goal.

We drove to the end of the road and parked by the bridge, then finished off the day by hiking the Icicle Gorge Loop Trail - a 3.5 mile loop that goes along one side of the creek, crosses, then returns along the other side.  Not enough snow for snowshoes, but we shall return when the snow is deeper, with snowshoes afoot.

Having had 4 great days of trooping around in the snow, we headed back home, stopping at Ixtapa in Duvall for a gut full of Mexican food.

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