4 Search Results for ""north cascades national park""
- From: paulhurd
Taken from the Washington Pass Lookout in North Cascades National Park, Washington
- 1 year ago
- Views: 320
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- From: Hanlgt
Written by Steve S.
July 3-13, 2010
Saturday afternoon, July 3, we flew Alaska Air out of Burbank directly to Seattle, about a two and a half hour flight.
We spent the first two nights in the Seattle Crowne Plaza, our room on the 32nd floor with a lovely (eyes rolled) view of the 5 freeway way down below and looking southeast. Even though it was the Fourth of July, there were no opportunities to see fireworks nearby.
After a few days in Seattle we got our rental car, and set off on our own. Leaving Seattle heading north at rush hour didn’t prove too bad, and thanks to our beloved Nuvi GPS, we had no trouble finding the Staybridge Suites hotel in Mukilteo (not a typo!), just south of Everett, where the Cascades Loop begins. We had found a great points bargain there online, and it turned out to be maybe our favorite hotel of the trip. It was most distinctly family style and that came out in spades since they had a free hot dog and salad dinner out that night. They were also able to issue us the handicapped room and it was simply terrific, a suite with a kitchen and ‘living room’ area, not to mention a shower that was the most wobbly-friendly one I’d used since becoming disabled sixteen years ago! While there, we found out that the tourist spot of Mukilteo was its old lighthouse near the dock for its ferry to the Puget Sound islands. When we checked out on Thursday morning, we went by there. It was cute and the morning sunny and pleasant.
Then, turning to the booklet that became the bible of sorts for the trip, “Cascade Loop Scenic Highway Guidebook” (available at CascadeLoop.com), we struck out on the loop. A short ride to Everett got us to the interchange to lead us east toward Stevens Pass. A couple of hours of driving, slowly rising through coastal farmland into forest through several ‘don’t blink or you’ll miss it’ towns (We liked the looks of Skyhomish, although we didn’t stop there), led us through the pass and over it. Shortly thereafter, we stopped in Leavenworth for lunch and sightseeing. It’s a German-themed town that brought comparisons to Jamestown, California to mind for its size and location by a river, and Solvang for its ethnic touches. Lunch of stuffed cabbage met with Lisa’s approval (it’s something she likes at delis and such), and the shops proved interesting. Best shop for me, the tasting room for Kestrel wines. I thought the wines were fine, but not worth the high twenties they mostly asked for them.
From Leavenworth, we drove the short hop through farm and desert country to Wenatchee, a desert valley with much farmland and the Wenatchee meeting up with the Columbia River. This was one of two places we stayed for two nights along the Loop. We had a modest dinner at a coffee shop, Shari’s, that had good salmon for me (Lisa doesn’t like salmon) and, in a most pleasant surprise, no-sugar pies including a terrific gooseberry.
In our full day there, Friday the ninth, we first went to Ohme Gardens. This is an amazing place. In an area of desert and bare hills, Ohme had, without plan or training, slowly and methodically made a forest garden with ponds and ‘meadows’ of grass and stone-walkway paths on a hill on the north end of town. Even though we were there during a record-breaking heat wave, the late morning shadows and trees were most pleasant. Lisa got a good wander, but the paths were too tough on my balance, so I got this absolutely cherry seat on a slit log bench that looked upon the entrance meadow, and across it to the beautiful forest, with gaps through which I could see the Wenatchee River.
The park staff most kindly allowed Lisa and me to drive into a lower ‘closed’ parking lot which had access to a lower meadow and wonderful views again over the river, but also west across the farmland with Cascade Range mountains, snow-capped in the distance. Leaving Ohme Gardens, we headed just a bit north to the town of Cashmere (I kid you not!). It’s known for, and we toured, the candy factory that makes Applets and Cotlets. The tour was brief but interesting, and we did buy eats in the gift shop. So, while Lisa bought candies for her staff, I found some good locally grown dried apricots.
From there, I returned to our room to rest and Lisa caught the last open hour of a museum in town. When going through the town newspaper (and I use that term loosely), I got one of the good laughs of the trip upon finding out that the local baseball team was the Wenatchee Apple Sox! (They are apparently a summer league team for college players.)
After breakfast Saturday (included in the hotel as in literally every hotel at which we stayed), we headed north toward Chelan. The highway paralleled the Columbia River, wide, calm and blue, with little on the western side where we drove, but across the river were visible farms and vineyards. We had no planned stops en route, but we came upon this lovely park-like setting which turned out to be the Rocky Reach dam grounds. It’s a hydroelectric dam across the Columbia, and the grounds were very well maintained and included an attention-getting American flag made entirely of flowers.
We took pictures, and went inside, which proved to be fascinating. They have a fish ladder for fish migrating upstream to use to avoid the dam. It’s possible to observe an interior portion through glass and an exterior portion on the north side of the dam between the entry and the museum. The museum, located ON the dam in a building above it, is several rooms with local history, Indians, animal and local ecology, and dam and area history on a serene, well laid out floor of the building.
A relatively short ride from the dam got us to Chelan (she LAN), a tourist town at the south end of a fifty mile long (and ONE mile wide!) glacier-carved lake. We checked into our room at the Best Western Resort that turned out to be pleasantly large, overlooking the outdoor pool, and having an enormous tub/Jacuzzi in the middle of the room (and which I found out after the trip was the Honeymoon Suite). We had lunch at a comfortable little coffee shop, and after consulting our information and GPS, we went looking for C. R. Sandidge winery tasting room in the town of Manson on the east side of the lake. As seemed to happen the entire trip, it was our good fortune to get lost! We ended up going over the hills on the east side of the lake, only to find an idyllic valley of farms, orchards, vineyards, and a couple of pretty little lakes.
The GPS led us back to the lakefront road, and a fast phone call by Lisa let us know we were just a block away from the winery. I didn’t know Sandidge at all, but the brochures and websites talked about award winning wines, so I chose it as one winery in the area - there are maybe a dozen - that I wanted to go to. The general manager handling the tasting room told us it was five dollars for a tasting fee. We tasted and talked with him, the other group of people there left, and as happened repeatedly when we tasted, once we showed knowledge, we got to taste wines not on the tasting list and he kindly waived the fee.
The wines were all fine, the cheap red blend and syrah were good and the former a bargain at its price. But the top notch wines were amazing. The big award winner, a cabernet blend by the odd name of Tri*Umph was beautifully constructed, and probably worth its asking price of nearly $40. As very good as that was, I personally favored their syrah blend called Stone Tree (the ’06), about the same price. Mercifully, I was in no position to buy, having to fly home and not having room in my suitcase to pack any wine. I will keep an eye out for their wines, but they’re not common outside of the winery. We headed off feeling quite relaxed!
The winery manager had mentioned that the cherry harvest had begun that day and recommended a farmer’s market that turned out to be very near our hotel, which we hit on the way home. (And the cherries, wow!) After Lisa checked her travel website, we went to a bar/grill called Tin Lilly, which was busy indoors, but the patio looked just as busy. At our indoor table, I ordered and thoroughly enjoyed a fresh Pacific salmon filet and fine Guinness dark beer.
We rose early on Sunday morning to wolf down breakfast and make it to the dock of The Lady of the Lake, fortunately only a few hundred yards from our hotel. The Lady of the Lake is the boat that goes the entire length of Lake Chelan in about two and a half hours. The slow ride up is comfortable with both downstairs and upstairs seating and views. We chose downstairs for its more comfortable seats. The journey up the lake, from the dock at the south end of the lake, going northward, showed towns and vineyards on both sides at the south end of the lake, and about halfway to the north end the terrain became rugged enough that humans stopped being visible most of the time, but rugged glacier-carved cliffs changed slowly from nearly barren to increasingly forested.
The boat stopped a time or two to pick up or drop off things at settlements along the lake, and to take in a very pretty small waterfall feeding the lake with snow run-off. Then, at the extreme north end of the lake, we slid into the dock at Stehekin. It’s a town with a year-round population a handful fewer than a hundred. It is inaccessible by car and most people and supplies come in by boat. (The Lady of the Lake had a tarped cargo area on the back deck.)
Stehekin was lovely on the July day we were there. The time for travel means that unless you’re staying there overnight, the layover before the return trip begins is a meager hour. That was enough for us to take the bus to Rainbow Falls, go the easy quarter mile walk in, take pictures, and hop back on the bus which stopped at the now-replaced log cabin-style one-room schoolhouse. After a brief stop there, we returned to town with just enough time to hit the general store for a souvenir tee shirt and pictures of the dock area, surrounding forest, and looming Cascades. Breathtaking….
The return trip, simply the reverse of the trip up, was pretty uneventful and by the time we approached Chelan it was after two and the five hours of sitting had made the seats begin to get uncomfortable. I was grateful for the on-board restrooms and little snack bar on the lower floor behind us where I bought water. It’s surely a side trip worth taking, but I think if I did it again, I’d like more time in Stehekin and the valley there and would take at least one night of accommodation there.
We returned early enough to get in more wine tasting. Near our hotel and the farmer’s market, we had seen the Tsillan (again, she LAN) winery which turned out to have a beautiful hilltop tasting room and restaurant overlooking vineyards and the lake. I regretted having left my camera in the hotel room, thinking I wouldn’t need or want it. The wine was OK but nothing special. Go for the view and pretty room. The wine is OK, but of the four tastings we ended up doing, they were a distant fourth.
“One more winery and I’ll shut up for the rest of the trip,” I promised. So we meandered around the south tip of the lake toward Manson and went to Van du Lac Winery, which promised a bistro al fresco, also. Unfortunately, the wind came up, but nothing could spoil my mushrooms in cream sauce pasta. After we ate, we braved the wind for a bit of tasting, which was at a small outdoor bar beside the restaurant area. The outdoor area would be very pretty with an occluded lake view in any situation except the wind we encountered. The wine itself was good, maybe on par with Kestrel in Leavenworth. I’d buy it and their $14 to $20 a bottle for most wines seems reasonable to me. (The online praise is for their whites, and I tried and prefer reds.)
That night, our second and last in Chelan, Lisa took a long happy turn in the huge bathtub/Jacuzzi. The next morning after breakfast and check-out we continued north. Fortunately we passed the other winery on my visit list, Rio Vista, before its opening time and probably too early in the morning to start tasting, anyway. (Yeah, right!)
In conversation the previous day, a woman at Tsillan told us about a great place to stop for lunch. A bit off the highway, in the hills overlooking the Methow Valley near the town of Twisp, is Sun Mountain Lodge, a mountain resort hotel and spa. Along the way up to it, we passed pretty Patterson Lake. The Lodge is modern ‘rustic’ with log buildings and hallways filled with stuffed game heads and antler braces. (And near the entrance, the explanation that they don’t support hunting but that the pieces had been donated by a now-deceased hunter.) The restaurant view is pretty over the valley and the view west, the other way, is very nice semi-forest with distant Cascades visible.
After a pleasant lunch in their rustic restaurant overlooking the Methow Valley, we wandered slowly back down to the highway taking pictures of the valley and Patterson Lake along the way. This leg had interesting blends of ecosystems, often with forest on our left, farming on one side or the other of the road, and desert to our right. Then, a short hop brought us to Winthrop, a western-themed town with wooden statues around (we got to park right in front of the goateed sheriff!). It’s worth the time to take a fun look around the several-block long main drag, grab an ice cream if it’s warm as it was the day we were there, or a latte and look into buildings and stores. There’s a museum off the main drag that we didn’t go to.
It was our long day of driving and lots still lay ahead before our hotel in Burlington. At the appropriate intersection of Winthrop, we turned left and began our slow climb up the east side of Washington Pass. I’m not overstating it to say that it might just be the most spectacular ride I’ve ever had. The Cascade Loop Guide explains that this is the reason to do the loop counter-clockwise, and WOW! did they get that right! Even on July 12th, the mountain peaks had snow, and on the east side thos snowy peaks contrasted with a dazzlingly blue sky and a few puffy white clouds on a warm day. Even from the car, the photography was easy and pretty, the unexpected waterfalls brought smiles, and the road rose through beautiful forest with peaks exposed to view with every turn.
As we approached the pass, the sky clouded over and our car thermometer reported the temperature as 48 degrees at the summit, with the rain starting lightly. For me, taking the pictures, this gave a wonderful second chance, this time the peaks dancing with the rain clouds with bits of blue poking through. The road has two lake-view pull-outs just after the summit, Ross Lake and Diablo Lake. These glacier-carved and -fed lakes are green due to their coldness, and lovely to behold and photograph. We stopped at both, braving the cold drizzle to go to their railings to take pictures.
Continuing down the west side of the pass, we pulled into the North Cascades National Park Visitors Center, a peaceful forested drive of five or ten minutes south of the highway. The Center is welcoming and its self-guided museum-like tour is informative and interesting.
Returning to the highway and continuing downhill, we laughed at the name of the town Concrete and had to pull out at least long enough to go down the main street. Among the first things we passed was the police station, bearing a pretty mural and a sign indicating that Concrete was the “Center of the known Universe”! The quaint main street was rather what one might expect in a small old town, and we returned to the highway past its now-closed, and presumably eponymous cement factory.
From there it was down to Burlington to stay the night by the outlet mall, and one more gooseberry pie dessert at the Shari’s just down the block, but not found near our Southern California home. Time constraints meant we had to forego the final islands leg of the Loop, but we did get more good looks at Puget Sound while returning to the airport to return our rental car and find the Alaska Airlines gates to head home.
It was a wonderful trip.
- Blog post
- 4 years ago
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- From: Brenda Cathey
- 4 years ago
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- From: sheriryden
A great destination for hiking in the U.S. is the North Cascades in Washington State. One of the prettiest spots we found on a trip there in July 2009 is Hidden Lake in North Cascades National Park. The trail to Hidden Lake starts just west of the park and climbs up to a fire tower. This photo is a view of Hidden Lake from just under the fire tower. Isn't it a gem?
- 5 years ago
- Views: 1883