Twisp, WA; home of the Lorax?

I’ve always thought the town of Twisp, WA sounded like it belongs inside a Dr. Seuss book. And truly, the idyllic mountain town always seems like a fantasy-land whenever I visit. Having spent very little time there, my distant vantage probably polishes the tangible charm to a spectacularly bright sheen. panoThe Methow valley is sun drenched, yet green, thanks to its proximity to the Cascade Crest (where: West = wet & East = dry) and a steady supply of snow melt from the high peaks. Surely this area has ranked atop lists of best places to retire for eons. I love to head East from our spongey density to this more sparsely forested landscape. Continue reading

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Spring break at the beach (sort of)

Lake Chelan is a 55 mile long natural finger lake surrounded by foothills on one end and towering peaks at the other. At a depth of 1000 feet in places, the water is cold, clear, and seems the ideal home for a cousin of Nessy. I have yet to spot Chelanny, though.lc27There are a couple of resort towns at the southern arid end and a couple of super remote tiny mountain towns at the other along with a smattering of summer cabins. Continue reading

Polar Plunge at Gothic Basin

Today, I had to pass up the opportunity to take a “Polar Plunge.” Seeing the post-plunge video of friends jumping into a body of water during winter reminded me of a sublime day a few years back. Continue reading

No School! Nooksack River snowshoe instead.

An instructor who was scheduled to give four hours of lecture today came down with the flu, so classes were canceled. This coinciding with 55˚ and sunny means…you guessed it…a quick trip into the mountains! Continue reading

Chikamin Lake: one of my top five hikes of all time.

This time of year with its 33˚ and steady drizzle, snow piling up on top of the high trails, I absolutely ache for summer. It becomes palpable and I find myself pouring through photos of past trips or flipping through guide books and maps planning this year’s escapades.chik5One trip, now two and a half years past, still gives me a glow upon remembering. The trip began with a drive through the town where one of my favorite TV shows was filmed. Roslyn, WA, adorable home of the set for Northern Exposure. I can totally see Gwen and I fixing up an old farmhouse there and letting the dogs go wild. chik1The trailhead to Chikamin Lake is at a mere 700 ft of elevation. That means there’s a LOOONG way to go before treeline. Much of this approach, though extremely brushy, at times, was quite pleasant thanks to the unspoiled nature of the forest. Still, the camera didn’t come out much until a glimpse of a view showed itself, hours later.chik2There is something sublimely rewarding about walking through a dense Cascade forest and feeling the woods open into a clearing here and a meadow there until all that’s left are the occasional sentinel beside the trail. chik3The trail crested here, as we soaked in the expanse, then made its way down to a lake where we were met a slope of house size boulders and no clear way through.chik4If you look close, you can see me beginning to navigate and get a sense of the scale.chik14And here are Gwen and Dusky in two shots next to the impossibly upright monolith.chik13We passed a crystal-clear triangle-shaped tarn at the top of the boulder field and were heartened to find a semblance of trail soon after. chik12And it wasn’t long until we were very happy campers! chik7The following day we set out on a loop that was, as Gwen would say, “Josh-style.” It is a hunt and peck method of wilderness travel, admittedly. Exploratory, as in, let’s just go a little further to see how doable it is. It certainly got exciting at times!chik8And we were blessed with views from Mt. Baker (back home) to Mt. Rainier and beyond.chik6Then, rewarded with fall color and a chain of lakes to rival the Enchantments.chik11chik10We simply couldn’t have planned it any better!

I think I’m going to go waterproof my boots now…

Baker Lake, or “Faker Lake”

While many of our friends in other parts of the country are enduring a deep freeze, we’ve been having one of the calmest winters in memory here in the Pacific Northwest. A friend of mine who is a kite boarder has been totally bummed by the lack of wind. So bummed, he spent the las three weeks in Florida rippin’ up the warm surf.BL16 Continue reading

Warm and dry in Red Rocks

This is the second and final installment from our short trip to Las Vegas where we chose to play in the slot canyons rather than play the slots. Here’s proof, however, that Gwen and I actually spent an evening on the “strip.” redrocksstripThe following morning, hangover-free and still “in the black,” we were raring to get to nearby Red Rocks Conservation Area. The warmth and dryness of which was easy to settle into.redrocksjosh Continue reading

Heavy snow, feeling light

whitesalmon1

Bellingham, WA is frequently rated among the “most livable” cities in the nation. Recently, however, it topped a list of cities for something that it may not want to put on the brochures.  My town absorbs the least amount of sunshine of any city in the lower 48. The sun shines only 35 percent of the time and is seems like that all comes in the month of July. Continue reading

Seasonal marbling: flurries, berries, and theophanies.

With the forecast iffy at best, we threw caution to the wind and ended up having a splendid, if windy, time on trail. A friend in town from mountain-less Boston, MA who had lugged well-lugged shoes cross country was not to be daunted from a little unpredictable weather!

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Fall color in the Cascades

Gwen, the pups, and I got a chance to get a short hike in last weeked during a spectacularly vivid day. We didn’t get too far down the trail when a narrow ravine of cascading waterfalls let out a Siren call that we could not resist. fall color Continue reading