Tuesday, August 23, 2011

State Map and The Open Road

By Amy Baranski

Ponderosa Pine. Photo by Bob Redmond. 
Diving into a cold lake, drying off in the sun, camping by the river on a bed of pine needles, stoking a campfire into the night, watching the stars flicker and the occasional unidentified flying object sail across the sky--these are what summer nights in the Northwest are made of!

With no plan, no place to sleep, stomachs full of Bavarian sausage, and gas still in the tank we pointed the minivan toward Chelan.

Lake Chelan is deep with memories--it's a lake my sister once jumped into from a 50 foot cliff off the banks of Refrigerator Harbor. It's a lake we sailed on almost every summer to reach Holden Village, an old mining town in the heart of the Cascades. By the time we visited, the mine had  been acquired by Wes Prieb and donated to the Lutheran Bible Institute, and the village was restored and converted into a retreat center.

I remember as a child thinking how beautiful Washington State is and knowing that I'd live here someday.

The dust was incredible on the Eightmile trail. It caked every piece of exposed skin, and somehow managed to cover Melissa's feet, making it's way through her wool socks and new hiking boots. Jumping in the lake was the perfect rinse. We joined the families lounging by the beautifully blue water, and cooled down. The sun was moving closer to the horizon but we weren't satisfied with any camping options in Chelan, so we headed to Winthrop--where we thought we could find a free spot along the river.

Last summer Bob and I spent a beautiful weekend camping in Winthrop with our pals Jessie and Aaron. It's a place I've been wanting to go back to ever since.

Winthrop. Photo by Bob Redmond.
When we reached Twisp we saw a campground sign. It didn't say how many miles to the camp so we drove about 12. We turned around thinking we had passed it. There was a site at mile 16 and one at the end of the road. Oh well. We picked up some bottles of wine from the convenient store and headed into Winthrop.

Winthrop is an adorable town. A bit touristy yest, but in an Eastern Washington kind of way. I'd like to live there. Melissa and Jamie were smitten.

We checked out Pearrgyin Lake, which looked like a fun campground, but again too full with the sorts of campers that bring televisions into the woods. Not that I wouldn't camp there. I would TOTALLY camp there, and yes, with my television.

Fortunately up the road we found a campsite that seemed similar to the one Bob and I stayed at last year. Around sundown the next day we'd find out it was the same one.

Once our tents were pitched we built a fire cracked open the wine and talked into the night--you know those kinds of meandering fire pit talks.

In the morning Jamie dipped into the river. I think Melissa and I followed suit. We warmed ourselves up with instant coffee and packed a few things decided to head out for a nearby day hike. Just because our backpacking trip turned out to be only one day didn't mean we'd given up on the hiking portion of the month!

To be continued....

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