Monday, September 03, 2007

Wenatchee hikes

Over the Labor Day holiday I took 2 hikes in the Wenatchee National Forest, north of Lake Wenatchee. Since rain was forecast for the Seattle area, I wanted to go to the drier area east of Steven's Pass. On Saturday, I hiked up Estes Butte to the old lookout site. This trail is short but goes up 2900' in less than 3 miles. I've hiked it before, the last time the trail had just been re-routed to make it less steep but longer. Sunday I hiked to lower Twin Lake from the White River valley, and ate lunch at the old Forest Service cabin, seeing only 1 other group of hikers. Both days I saw mule deer, not yet very wary of people.

I was surprised to see so few hikers on the trails, along the Chiwawa and White River valleys below there were many campers and lots of vehicle traffic. In the Chiwawa, there were lots of off trail bikers noisily infesting the roads and motor trails. I also saw some "hunters" (sneer quotes intended) driving slowly along roads looking for game. The deer archery season and the black bear season is now open and I was careful to wear bright clothing and cap. I don't have an objection to hunting but have little respect for those who think hunting is driving along a road.

Even at the higher elevations, it isn't fall yet, only the mountain ash is beginning to turn. Mostly the sky was clear and deeply blue. Saturday night only got down to about 50 at 3200' elevation. I remember other Labor Day weekends that I experienced frost even along the valley floors. While a couple of years doesn't prove a warming trend, records do indicate the season between frosts is growing longer in the North Cascades. Fortunately most of the annoying bugs were far fewer than 2 weeks ago, I only saw 1 mosquito and no small black flies. Lots of hornet and bumblebees but they didn't bother me except when eating.

I drove home after my hike on Sunday wanting to avoid the crowds coming home on Labor Day. The Monroe Evergreen State fair was winding up and I knew there would be lots of traffic there. Next weekend I head for Yellowstone National Park, I hope the area gets rain and the thunderstorms let up.



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