Feet solidly planted atop rounded river rock, the downstream current eddies around one’s legs. Fishing lines float through the air, mimicking spider’s silk—tipped with flies—landing in hope of enticing a rainbow nibble.
The water is cool and the air moves slowly past; it’s a calm day and friends are within earshot. Looking around, one imagines spending a fishing day among the Methow tribal people, witnessing their relationship with the salmon and steelhead. Maybe dinner’s on the line—not today though, the fish lives to tell his tale. In any case, the camaraderie of friends on the river—now enjoying Old School House IPA—makes for an ideal day. It’s the cold clean water that fishing guide Kevin van Bueren spoke of, in the Methow Headwaters documentary that debuted to a packed Red Barn last winter.
The towns of the Methow Valley were planted by those with an adventurous spirit in search of opportunity. Their roots are deep. Winthrop’s Shafer Museum immortalizes its past—mining was a way of life, both feast and famine. The unsustainable boom or bust mindset was sufficient enough to put a town on the map in those days, but once wild and vibrant, mining towns are now filled with ghosts, sharing only a whisper of lives once lived (Foundations, F&C Issue 006).
The rural Methow Valley has grown and adapted to the changing needs of those who live there. Ranchers, farmers, and proprietors power the economy, but more importantly, they guard the history of this valley.
Through this diverse setting, from past to the present day flows the clean, clear waters of the Methow River. The purity of these waters runs deep in the hearts and minds of those who live here, inspiring excellence and a dedication to maintaining the integrity of this place, finding worthwhile ways to sustain an admirable quality of life. The art of living is taken seriously; endeavoring not to take but to find equilibrium—giving back is essential. Okanogan County is the largest county in the state, yet home to only 41,000 citizens who support over 460 different nonprofits. This is the definition of community: everyone helps everyone. What lures all of us to the Methow Valley is purity, beauty, and strength of community. Whether we were born here and left, or stumbled upon it while passing through, we come back, and sometimes we stay.
There is a common thread that connects us all—resident and visitor, writer and reader—we value community and revel in natural beauty. Participate, be engaged, and give back to what you love.
For further insight and continued engagement, explore the Methow Headwaters Campaign; it is well worth your while, as is this stunning documentary about the Valley and its water.