Blue Star Coffee

Cloud-shining

Field Report No. 20160325BA

Topic: Looking from one season to the last

Conditions: Mud and sun and cloudy drama

COMMENTS: I love looking from one season to the next: arrowleaf gnomes pushing their heads from the tamped-down ground to sun shouting from between snowstorms; raven crowing to herald seasonal springs flowing down this south-facing slope to a breeze still biting from the north. Clouds part, a shaming discourse scrambling the space between me and the full moon keeping the buzzing land awake at night growing, seeping, moving. The one-bar song of early spring's single meadowlark halfway up the little mountain near home reminded me of the siren song of the green season that drew me here to stay in the first place. Alone amidst the subtle bustle, I decided it was time to set up my camp chair, boil my water, and enjoy an afternoon press in good company.

KEY FEATURES: Trails runnable from beginning to muddy end. 360 degree views encapsulating the Pasayten, Mount Gardner, the Sawtooths, and the mighty Okanogan. A daily refresh of carefully-synchronized tiny flowers bursting from tattered winter masses of snow-crushed grass - return often to see the latest developments. No other visitors around for miles.

RECOMMENDATIONS: Grab a nip of Genepy for later at The Wine Shed and a brew for the alpine stove at Blue Star. Let KTRT roll as you navigate to the sunniest trailhead. Tip: point south like all those flowers who so wisely angle at the sun.

The Earth Under the Ice

Field Report No. 20160320BA

Topic: A hunt for dry trail

Conditions: Melt-season

COMMENTS: Upon first meeting the spongey, red soil of the first snow-free trail in Mazama for the spring I stamped my happy feet on it, jumped up and down on it, even yelled to no one in particular about my joy at finding it. After a long winter's many comings, spring finally showed her face this afternoon. I ran in grateful, wide strides on patches of dry trail between persistent islands of winter's icy clutch until I reached my favorite circle of verbose ponderosas perched vertiginously above the hussssshing Lost River. They spoke: "Spring is coming and we have company. Trust that the ground is here beneath the ice; it will provide you sustenance. We are your family, your friends, your confidants." Fortified with that message, my run reached its logical halfway point and I wheeled back to my car.

KEY FEATURES: Red earth matching red tree bark. The quiet roar of a river lost. Yells unheard, silence unspoiled, tiny treasures barely melted scattered pell-mell on the trail. A hundred birds singing the weak sun out from behind the clouds.

RECOMMENDATIONS: Check the Forest Service's road conditions update then choose an accessible trailhead. Go far, go fast, go with joy. Bookend your amble with coffee at The Mazama Store (Blue Star, mais oui) and brunch at the swank Freestone Inn

Fall: A Look Back

Fall: A Look Back

COMMENTS: Looking back, these are the reasons I weekend-warriored my way from Spokane to the Alpine Lakes Wilderness three times in October... 

The organic way

Planting the wheat that turns into bread; that's a beautiful thing.

The Methow on a Shoestring

The Methow Valley five-star experience is well-known—in fact many people travel here seeking luxury of the material sort. However, one need not break the bank to enjoy hip accommodation, a thoughtfully-crafted meal, and intrepid adventure in the Valley. 

Here are my favorite affordable attractions in this beautiful valley. With this list I hope you can make your stays in the Valley a more regular occurrence.

North Cascades Mountain Hostel in winter alpenglow

North Cascades Mountain Hostel’s tiny houses
If, like me, you’ve been over staying at hostels since that time you backpacked around Europe in your early twenties you’ll be pleasantly surprised at the style and privacy packed into Paul and Audrey’s hostel. Cabins start at $60 per night (if you must a bunk is $25) and renting one will put you within walking distance of all the great restaurants and bars in downtown Winthrop—not to mention just a short drive away from innumerable trailheads, peaks, and rivers. 

Blue Star Coffee’s delicious drip
Bop over to Blue Star’s cafe and roastery in Twisp to find out how they put the magic in the cup. The holy stuff will provide ample morning resuscitation after a previous day’s intense ride, run, or ski without breaking the bank. Try whatever drip is on tap as it is likely to be seasonal, perfectly balanced, and roasted within the last couple days. While your drink is being crafted, look to your right and wave at the roaster hard at work behind the plexiglass window. Take your cup to go and pay homage to the fire-stricken land up the Twisp River drainage before hiking one of its many trails.

3 Bears Cafe’s small bites breakfast menu
You may wander in to 3 Bears to take a peek at their rotating art collection or to purchase yardage of unique fabric for your winter crafting project but the breakfast menu will keep you here for a bite to eat. Be sure to try their locally-grown Bluebird Grain Farms porrige—spalsh out on a side of thick-cut bacon. With a generous tip you’ll still clock in under $15 and you'll have plenty of juice to go rent a bike at Methow Cycle & Sport to ride around the Chewuch Loop. 

it is aspen season in the Rendezvous

Rocking Horse’s Friday lunch menu
Psst, here’s a super secret and delicious option that even you locals might not have discovered yet. Every Friday Teresa over at Rocking Horse prepares luscious lunch fare. She is equally as skilled with Indian cuisine as with the Ethiopian dish I enjoyed yesterday. For $6 this lunch is not only a steal but it is some of the only non-American cuisine one can find in the Valley. Supply is limited so snag yours as an early lunch. After refueling at this hearty lunch spot go for an afternoon fish at your favorite nearby alpine lake.

Arrowleaf Bistro’s Happy Hour
Arrowleaf boasts some of the finest farm-to-table fare to be found east or west of the Cascades. From 4pm to 5pm every day Arrowleaf serves up my favorite gin martini in the valley and for $5 each sometimes I spring for that second drink. Snag a seat on their charming porch as outdoor seating season wanes to enjoy some priceless people-watching and to observe the autumn colors. Top your afternoon snack off with one of owner Joanne's homemade macarons. I can’t wait to check out their new Winthrop digs when they’re complete in a few months.

get stoked for freshies at Washington Pass!

Tappi Tuesdays
Moody lighting, pizza cooked in an authentic wood-fired oven, and fine Italian wine don’t generally characterize a quality, budget-conscious meal. Over at Tappi in artsy Twisp every Tuesday’s menu includes two small salads, a pizza, and a bottle of wine for $25—plus all the ambience one could hope for on date night. Don’t miss their gluten-free options and a stellar bottle of Nebbiolo from their cellar. The space is cozy and Tuesdays are, for good reason, quite popular so be sure to make a reservation in advance.

Freestone Inn’s Local’s Night
Where else can you flyfish, paddleboard, heliski, trail run, and mountain bike from the premises of a luxury wilderness retreat boasting fine food and drink? I can’t think of another place besides the Freestone in wild Mazama. The new owners and managers are planning a special local’s night (read: all evening happy hour) which is slated to begin in November. Keep an eye out for a Field Report on this inventive new menu in the coming weeks. Be sure to stick around the neighborhood and stargaze—don’t forget your blanket and down jacket to lay out under the stars.

Copper Glance (lake)

COMMENTS: The drabness of late summer is gone, supplanted by these mercenaries of color. They proselytize to the mist while I sing silently to my notebook; sparse raindrops blot my words. 

Harts Pass/Slate Peak

Harts Pass/Slate Peak

COMMENTS: We hit the road early and made it to Twisp by 7 AM--grabbed a coffee, then flew up the highway to Winthrop where we

Under the Great Blue Star

COMMENTS: We met up at Blue Star Coffee Roasters, right off highway 20 westbound entering Twisp. The wire mesh table shaded by Blue umbrella comforted us from