We cross the gravel road and start the climb up Lewis Butte. It’s late-November in the Methow and this hike, though not thought of much throughout the rest of the year, is suddenly popular again...
COMMENTS: At F&C, we've noticed that our mission is somewhat encapsulated by a couple of viral hashtags that will once again make their rounds this weekend.
After hiking up several switchbacks, Esmeralda Peak became increasingly outstanding with the November sun glaring against the rock and snow.
COMMENTS: From the metal cage of my car I can hear the tapping of rain on the roof, the rocks, and the puddles around me.
COMMENTS: With an early Thursday departure and a freshly brewed coffee from Good Mood Food, we made our way to the Colchuck Lake Trailhead.
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.
COMMENTS: I hike swiftly across the flat terrain and enjoy the clammy feeling of sweat pressed against my skin by my light pack. It is quiet except for the intermittent whirl of a pontoon engine and the occasional voices...
Field Report No. 20150726TB
COMMENTS: Waking up to a bird’s footsteps on my window sill, with the sun piercing my eyes, I knew today was the day for an adventure. Preparation began with some morning instrumental jams, a cup of freshly pressed coffee, followed by a teakwood and tobacco candle I picked up a few weeks ago from a boutique in a neighboring town. I needed to fuel up so I headed to my local coffee roaster for a double shot of espresso and a hand crafted veggie omelet. After feeling the food hit me, it was time for adventure. The drive to the local trail head was filled with anticipation. The whole time I was thinking about what I was going to encounter. Once arrived, I grabbed my bag, water bottle, and camera, then charged the mountain. The way up was slow. I was so distracted by the natural architecture the forrest had to offer. The way the sun spilled onto the trail through the branches, with every step changed the temperature feeling on the back of neck. From shade to sunlight, this trail felt like it was made for me today. After snapping nearly five hundred pictures, I finally made it to the top. Struck by the beauty of the resting, still water, I had to pull my camera out once more so I could brag about my hike later. I was then on a mission for a flat spot on natures floor, too lay down my blanket for a quick rest. It was hard to sleep because of the busy buzzing bees in my ear. After failing to sleep, I decided it was time to set up my slack line. This was the peak of my adventure today. After falling a few times, it was time to head back down, so I could get some rest. Tomorrow is a new day, and always a new adventure.
KEY FEATURES: Allow yourself a good four hour chunk if you decide to embark on this journey with me.
RECOMMENDATIONS: Caffe Mela, Tumbleweed Bead Co., Posy Handpicked Goods.
COMMENTS: It’s still June and the rhythm of summer has already settled into the dry grass. I arrive at the trailhead after work at 5:30, eyes strained from computer work and legs ready to strike.
COMMENTS: Fresh from the field exploring and adventuring, there's one part of Maslow's Hierarchy that is often forgotten...
COMMENTS: We play the odds for one reason: the Enchantments—Eastern Washington’s access to the Cascades. I feel pride for this lower-altitude range with its briery granite peaks and lakes the color of tin and steel.
Field Report No. 20150523AH
Conditions: West Coast
COMMENTS: The familiar sounds of coffee brewing, (locally roasted and fair-trade, of course) the smell builds slight anticipation as memories of early mornings home and abroad rise to the surface--one too many whiskies last night (perhaps) but when you have a tolerance somewhere between Winston Churchill and André the Giant, I say let the night take you where it may.
So far, boots-on-the-ground in Seattle, Reno, Truckee, and Tahoe City visiting snowless ski resorts and Olympic grounds, climbing to lookouts, wine tasting, making scratch margaritas, chatting with locals and fellow travelers, and eating lunch next to a lake in drought. Transportation thus far has consisted of planes and cars, perhaps there are trains and trollies in my future.
KEY FEATURES: Temperate weather, comprehensive food-culture
RECOMMENDATIONS: As usual, locals possess valuable information on locales that can help you cut through the clutter and the noise to equip yourself with the necessary knowledge to pass as a seasoned "full-timer." I suggest having a friend or family member in the area or waiting patiently for Field & Compass to expand to your location.
COMMENTS: I drove west on I-90 while the clouds, those lofty, white vessels, soared over the plains. Gusts of wind swatted my car across the highway, and I held the steering wheel firmly. Lucky for me, the forecasted rain had not yet begun.
COMMENTS: Now and again my introverted tendencies beckon to me, a weight somewhere down in my stomach. Today, they want a spontaneous nature experience. I don’t argue—it’s part of our arrangement.
Mall-ternative: an eclectic mix of shopping, neighborhoods, and the outdoors in one segment of town… just in case you find yourself with some free time to spend in Spokane.
COMMENTS: We filled our bellies with eggs and grits and made a run at Burch Mountain in an attempt to reach Eagle Rock. Unfortunately for us,
On a restless morning, my wife and I decided we were heading northward to find trees that were young saplings when Jesus Christ was learning how to use a saw.
It was a shining 62 degree kind of late February type day with the foothills just turning green—the kind of green that's emerging from the brown slope of winter—slope speckled with the fingered sticks of sagebrush and bent over bunchgrass, heaps of organic matter that were once the leaves of arrowleaf balsamroot or lupine or maybe yarrow.
The yarrow that grows in the Wenatchee foothills generally has white flowers; we found two live blooms at the end of the trip. We stared there, 1200 feet above sea level and approached the hill from a southern arm which dissolves into a rural (5 houses) neighborhood. There was no trail so we stuck to game trails and made up switchbacks which avoided the occasional steep, dusty grade. There is another starting location which I used once with my old pal Lando several years ago, but later in the spring. He cat napped under a big pine at the summit.
The arm is a series of uphill and flat spaces which gradually turns into a ridge of sorts as you reach rock outcoppings toward the summit. There's some burned trees—fallen, yet still clinging to the rocks they tore from the ground—and fun little alcoves and not too dangerous precipices littered with the occasional thirty second scramble.
We made good time today, snapped some family photos and enjoyed the view. At the top—1,300 feet higher than we started—we took a quick jaunt westward and up a small rise, passing the napping tree and peeking down at Number 2 Canyon then gazing at the oft-photographed Wenatchee Valley / Columbia River panorama.
A deep breath and comments about doing this more since, come on we live here for cuss' sake, but just the same we never get tired of that view. Then back down we went, becoming a part of it ourselves.
RECOMMENDATIONS: If staying in town is your thing consider sampling some of the amazing wines and ciders. Do the circuit and visit Jones of Washington, Stemilt Creek Winery, and Snowdrift Cider Company. If you're in the Leavenworth area, stop in at Icicle Ridge Winery.
It is 10am and cold. Cold in mid-August, not sure where to park, trailhead is packed. No matter, I make my own parking spot next to the giant Ponderosa pine tree that leans slightly to the left as though it might fall with the force of the wind in its branches, of which there are many. Ponderosa has friends: Douglas Fir, Cedar, Hemlock; there are smaller folks too, various shrubs I cannot name though I continue to call myself 'outdoorsman'. I, outdoorsman, have friends too, troops really. We unload and another Suburban full of boots—smaller folks, like in ours—unloads as well.
The various accoutrements of war are gathered: base layer, long sleeves, light coats, boots, then backpacks filled with water and apples and nuts and chocolate. First-aid materials, compass, knife.
Pose for a quick shot and off we go into the forest with energy to burn. We walk, we run, we jump and sing and take breaks for candy. Over bubbling streams we stride with a single step (single jump for smallers), then larger waters with single log bridges, then more complex bridges assembled from many small logs. The water roars over rocks and past tree limbs, pooling behind natural dams and logjams. The perfect place for brook trout.
No time to fish today though, we're on a mission to Lake Colchuck and won't make it if we don't keep pace—small legs, you know. All is earthy and damp soil, old wood breaking down in natural processes giving way to big fat mushrooms you're not supposed to eat. Rocks with moss and sunlight pepper bunchgrass and holly; we're surrounded by lush, low growth. It is wholesome.
There are more breaks and the occasional whines and, yes, tears from the youngers. But over the course of four miles, we all make it up two thousand two hundred and eighty feet.
We eat lunch and explore. Other hikers walk through as we enjoy a fine view of the lake and share in the wonder of creation and the knowledge of intent behind it all. Creation itself is less interested in the intent and more interested in our lunches. The tiny, fat chipmunks are courageous and daring and carefully plan precisely how they will steal our chocolate.
Clouds gather. We replenish our water and hit the trails again, this time in reverse. Down we go and for everyone it seems harder than the trip up. Whether from fatigue or the sadness of leaving, all begin to show signs of post-hike blues. But no matter; we're back at the cars and the lot is much clearer now. In we go to drive what seems only a moment into Leavenworth, WA for ice cream and beers. We only mourn the loss of today—we'll be back to Colchuck.
Recommendations: When in Leavenworth don't forget to hit up Icicle Brewing for a Bootjack IPA. If pizza is your fancy, pop into Idlewild Pizza for a fantastic wood fired feast. Best burgers in town are at Fresh Burger.