Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Heybrook Lookout

The Heybrook lookout near Index Washington is a good place to go for a short (but fairly steep) hike. There's not much to see besides a lot of trees until you make it up to the lookout tower. But the views from the top are very pretty.

This is the view from the southern end of the tower.

Looking at this mountain almost made me think I had double vision!

Friday, November 25, 2011

North Cascades National Park

After visiting Winthrop and Rainy Creek Falls, Oscar and I came into North Cascades National Park from the east side. We were in for a treat!

The first beautiful site that beheld our eyes was Ruby's Arm on Ross Lake. Ross lake is 23 miles long and even extends a little bit into Canada. Ruby's Arm is a small, thin portion at the southern end. It was really beautiful! I liked the deep, midnight blue color. This was late August, so the mountains were mostly free of snow, but we could still see a glacier off in the distance.

But the real highlight of the trip was Lake Diablo. It was stunning! The turquoise color was absolutely mesmerizing.

I would have stared at it all day if it hadn't been so windy.

There are several roadside waterfalls as you travel along Highway 20. I'll have to come back in the spring to see Ketchum Creek Falls (top left) and Gorge Creek Falls (bottom left and right) when the water flow is stronger. Highway 20 crosses an enormous gorge as you pass Gorge Creek Falls, and looking down the bridge into the gorge even gave me a little vertigo, though I have zero fear of heights.

Oscar and I stopped off at this power plant to take a short hike up to Ladder Creek Falls.

For some reason, they'd taken the area information out of their windows, but they left the frames behind. We shot this picture of Oscar standing behind the frame, and it totally looks like a framed picture.


Ladder Creek Falls was pretty, but the upper drops were a bit obscured.

I love the unique way the water has shaped the gorge it falls into! Fortunately this waterfall has a medium watershed, which means it doesn't dry up later in the year unless there's a drought. It's one of the few we saw this trip that wouldn't be significantly bigger in the spring.

Big Devil Falls can be seen from the highway, though it's fairly distant and wasn't very big in late August. But if you came in the spring and were somehow able to get closer to it, it would be a pretty impressive waterfall.

We drove a little bit out of our way to see Teepee Falls. It was a nifty waterfall, but you view it from a road that crosses it from very high up and smack in the middle of the falls. The result is that you can't see the entire falls, and that your pictures make it look more like a river than a waterfall.

And the best waterfall of all was the last one we saw - North Fork Falls. It's hard to believe that we took this picture during the driest time of year for waterfalls. It was roaring! We're glad we found it too, since it ended up being harder to get to than we were expecting. It was significantly out of our way (30 miles round trip), and then we found out that the road leading to it was closed for construction. It was after 7:00pm, so there wasn't anybody working on it, but they'd left monstrously heavy rocks to prevent cars from taking the road. I really didn't want to turn around, though, after coming so far on terrible roads that made me feel a bit carsick. The GPS said it was only about a mile away so we knew we could hike it, but for all we knew it was 1 mile straight uphill. Fortunately it didn't end up being too bad, though it was somewhat steep and we did get a little winded. But the beautiful waterfall made it well worth it. After seeing mostly dry waterfalls all day, it was good to see a powerful, large watershed falls.

And we caught a nice sunset over the valley on our way back home.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Winthrop, Falls Creek Falls, and Rainy Lake Falls

I've lived in Washington for over 5 years now, and only recently did I learn we have our very own Wild West town. It's a cute little town called Winthrop, and the drive to it is beautiful, regardless of which direction you're coming from. Either you drive east through beautiful North Cascades National Park, or you drive north through the city of Chelan. We decided to visit Winthrop on the way home from Leavenworth, WA since we'd heard so much about the cute town and the gorgeous views in North Cascades National Park.

Before stopping to eat in the town, we drove north about 10 miles to visit Falls Creek Falls. It's a pretty falls in Falls Creek Campground.

We had to do a bit of meandering through the rocks and trees to get the best pictures of the falls, but otherwise there's no hiking required. We took this beautiful picture below from the south side.,

After seeing the waterfall, we explored the cute little town.
We ate a delicious lunch at Captain Jack's Saloon, we played mini golf in the main square, and we sat on saddle seats while we feasted on yummy homemade ice cream. I loved the first hole on the mini golf course! It reminded me of the game Plinko on The Price is Right. For being a cheaply made golf course, it was still pretty fun and had a lot of cool obstacles.

After filling our bellies and playing mini golf, we continued our trip on into North Cascades National Park.

    What a gorgeous drive!

Before driving to beautiful Ross Lake (see next post), we stopped for a small hike to Rainy lake falls. It's a pretty waterfall flowing into a lake with a mountain backdrop. What scenery could be better than mountains with a waterfall and a lake?!

Unfortunately this was low flow time for a very small watershed falls like this one. We'll have to come back in the spring (and maybe get an inflatable raft) if we really want to see this waterfall at its best.

 I liked this mist we could see along the rock walls as we hiked back to our car. Stay tuned for more waterfalls and beautiful lakes in my next post!