Washington Cascades Trip -- December 24 - 29, 2003

This snowshoe expedition is rated 5 high-tech $60.00 polycarbonate avalanche shovels out of 5 on the Snowshoe Expedition Shovel-o-meter.

We took off from work at noon on Christmas Eve and headed east on I-90 over Snoqualmie Pass, north on US-97 over Blewett Pass, then west to Leavenworth on US-2 to see the Christmas Festival of Lights.

We hung around Leavenworth for a while, then headed north on 97 and west on SR-20 to the Winthrop Inn, between Winthrop and Twisp.  We settled in for our 3 night stay, and the next morning we headed toward Omak on 20 up to Loup Loup Pass, where we had a look at the non-motorized (i.e. no freeking snowmobiles allowed) Sno-Park on the south side of 20, then headed to the non-motorized Sno-Park on the north side.  The road continued on to the Loup Loup Ski Bowl, but was gated shut - we later found out that they were closed on Christmas Day and that beyond the gate was the real north side non-motorized Sno-Park.

We went back to what we thought was the non-motorized Sno-Park (but was, unbeknownst to us, really a snowmobile Sno-Park) where we headed off into the woods, snowshoes afoot.  We weren't sure exactly where we were, and couldn't find any of the cross country ski trails that were shown on our map.  After an hour or so, we were passed by 2 guys on snowmobiles, and it finally occurred to us that maybe we weren't at the non-motorized Sno-Park after all.  Oh, well...  Except for the 2 snowmobiles - thankfully the only ones we saw all day - it was a nice trail. 

We came to a signed intersection where No Name Springs Road turned off of Summit Creek Road (more evidence that we were not at the non-motorized Sno-Park), and broke a steep trail up No Name Springs Road for a while... 

...then headed back down to the main trail. 

Heading back to the motel for the night, we stopped a few times to enjoy the afternoon scenery in the Methow Valley...

...including this reflection of the sunset and trees in the Methow River.

Sue lounges in $55.00 per night luxury at the Winthrop Inn.  It had a fridge and microwave, and we lived on leftover lasagna for a couple of days.  There was an announcement in the local paper that the Cascadia Methow Music Association was putting on a Handel's Messiah Sing-Along the next night at 6:00 in downtown Twisp, so we added it to our busy social calendar. 

Friday morning, the day after Christmas, we headed up SR-20 toward Washington Pass and stopped at the Freestone Inn (way too expensive), where we got our $3.00 (not too expensive) Methow Valley Sport Trails Association snowshoe trail passes, and trooped around one of the short and less-than-exciting snowshoe loop trails.

There were some good icicles at the Freestone Inn,

along with the obligatory horse-drawn sleigh.

We decided to head to the sunny south end of the valley, and ended up at the aptly-named Sun Mountain Lodge,

where we headed out on the Moose Trail, planning to hook into the Black Bear Trail, then return to the lodge via the View Ridge and Horse Trails.

Sue needs to study this snow angel in an effort to improve her angel-making abilities. 

The views were wonderful,

and we were hoping for some sunset color that evening.

The hoped-for sunset color largely failed to materialize, but it had been a good day of snowshoeing anyhow.  We headed down the mountain to Twisp and split a pizza at the local pizza joint, shopped at Hank's Harvest Foods for provisions, then headed to the Messiah at the Merc Playhouse for the duration of the evening.  The thermometer on the bank building showed 17 degrees, but it was nice and warm inside.  

The orchestra consisted if 5 violins, 1 cello, 1 string bass, 2 flutes, a gentleman with a selection of recorders, 2 trumpets, timpani, and 1 piano.  There were about 30 vocalists, and the audience varied between about 6 and 20 people during the performance.  The center seats were reserved for the singers, and non-singers were asked to sit on the sides, which we did.  Although it was billed as a sing-along, discretion prevailed and thankfully only those who actually could sing, sang.  The usual solo vocalist parts were generally performed by three or four members of the chorus singing together.  Five people took turns conducting, and there were not a few times when things fell apart and, after some discussion, everyone backed up a ways and started over.  The first violinist and the pianist generally held things together.

This lady seemed to the the chief conductor, and was the most serious one of the bunch.

The principle trumpet player (we recognized him from past performances of the Messiah in Bellevue) took his turn as conductor and at one particularly rough spot brought things to a halt and very nicely told the orchestra that as a brass band conductor he was somewhat of a stickler for precise rhythm - to which one of the violinists responded: "Then what are you doing here?", which was followed by a round of laughter and guffaws.  It turned out that he was a friend of a couple of orchestra members, and had agreed to perform with the group as a favor on his way to an engagement the next night in Leavenworth.  There was another point at which it was discovered that there was a missing measure in some of the scores being used, and it was decided that the solo piano would perform that section.

The timpanist (who brought her timpani all the way from Wenatchee) was the most exuberant conductor, and at one particularly intense point in the score, a gleeful "Yeeee-Haw" issued forth from the podium.

While the flute player was taking his turn with the baton, it was decided on the spur of the moment that they would perform a capella for a while.  And best of all, it was decided that since the wonderful "Air for Bass - The Trumpet Shall Sound" was so much fun, that they would perform it twice.

We got talking with Becky, the string bass player, during intermission, and asked her if she knew of any cabins or houses for rent by the week in the Winthrop area.  She suggested that we visit Frank and Ruby, and gave us directions to their house on Bear Creek Road, on a hill just south of downtown Winthrop.

When we got outside at the end of the performance, the temperature was 10 degrees and falling.

We knocked on their door, and told them that Becky had sent us.  They ushered us in, gave us a tour of the house, and then we sat in the parlor talking for a while.  They obviously enjoyed the company.  Ruby had built this quasi-Victorian house (Frank was her Gofer), and they rent out their old house next door.  Here, Frank and Jake the dog stand on the porch.

We finally headed back up the hill to Sun Mountain for some more snowshoeing.  This time we headed out on the View Ridge Trail, out to the Hough Homestead,

and back to the lodge via the Kraule Trail,

then down to Patterson Lake on the Lakeview Trail, and to the end of the lake on the Patterson Lake Trail.  By this time, the weather had really started to close in, and rather than continue around the loop, we decided to head back up to the lodge, which turned out to be one of our better "We hate to do it, but we really should turn around and head back now." decisions.

Here Sue climbs up the long, steep hill from Patterson Lake in the falling snow.  We got back to the car in a real blizzard, and headed south, after stopping in at Hank's Harvest Foods, to our room at Campbell's Resort on Lake Chelan, where we got a good night's sleep after the day's activities.

The next morning, we were on the Lady Express at 10:00, cruising up Lake Chelan to Stehekin.

We started off on the upper deck, but since it was open to the weather and was therefore somewhat cold, we eventually headed down to the main cabin.

The boat stopped at Lucerne to let passengers off and on.

We got to Stehekin and boarded the tour bus for the trip to Rainbow Falls.

It was hard to see the waterfall through the trees, but it was a 312' tall cascade of water and ice.

The bus took us back to Stehekin, and after splitting a salad and chicken soup at the restaurant, we got back on the boat for the return to Chelan.

Room 3456 in building 3, top floor, with gas fireplace and a view of the lake.

The view from the room.

Looking across the lake to the motel.

We pulled out of Chelan the next morning, and headed back to Leavenworth, then toward Stevens Pass,

and stopped at the Chiwawa Road Sno-Park,

where we did the 5 mile loop along the Wenatchee River.

Some nice side-lit snow pillows.

We finished tromping around in the snow, headed over Stevens Pass, got home at around 8:00 that evening, and tried not to think about going back to work the next day...

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