Thursday, August 12, 2010

Eastern Washington-North Cascades Highway Trip

Earlier this week, I traveled to eastern Washington for a set of events and memorials for the mother of my closest friend, Seattle bronze sculptor, environmental activist and community organizer, Peter Bevis. His mom, Mary Pat Sawyer, passed away in May, at her home in San Diego, but her roots were in the Wenatchee River valley. The photo above is of Monday evening's sunset over Lake Chelan. Family and close friends gathered from states as far away as Tennessee and Alaska.

Early Wednesday, I headed north from Chelan, and drove up the Methow River valley. The North Cascades Highway was finished in 1972, the year before I moved to Alaska. I'd never motored the route before, putting it off from year to year.

The Methow Valley gets more and more timbered as one heads up the river, especially above the town of Winthrop. Many granite outcroppings and walls make this area a rock climbers' paradise.

In the upper Methow, the Ponderosa pines of the lower river valley make way to fir and hemlock stands.

Near the summit of Washington Pass (5,477 feet), the scenery is spectacular. Even at that altitude, late Wednesday morning, the temperature was approaching 70 degrees F.

Once over the passes, the western slopes of the north Cascades include reservoirs of the upper Skagit River. Above is Ross Lake.

About 17,000 years ago, movement of rock and hills under the massive Cordilleran Ice Sheet, changed the future course of the Skagit River. Earlier, it had drained into the Fraser River to the north. Now it drains into Puget Sound, between Mt. Vernon and La Conner.

The views along Washington Highway 20, going through these mountains, are spectacular.

Diablo Lake, and Diablo Dam. The glacial hue of the water is a bit like that of Alaska's Kenai River. Here's a view of the lake and dam, with a tribute to former Washington state U.S. Senator, Henry Jackson (Washington state's version of Ted Stevens), who was instrumental in creating the North Cascades National Park.

The view from below Diablo Dam, looking at the upper Skagit River.

all photos - Philip Munger/PA


Belle said...

Gorgeous pictures.

Forrest said...

It looks like you had a great time ... and you got good weather for your trip. :D

The North Cascades Highway is one of the most scenic roads in the state. We have a lot to choose from, but this one is fantastic. It's also great for cycling.