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Archive for the ‘outdoors’ Category

The arrowleaf balsamroot, perhaps the signature flower of the Methow Valley and known locally as “the sunflowers”, are finally in full bloom up in our part of the valley.  Also, last week was the peak of the serviceberry bloom, which is a medium sized shrub that is ubiquitous in the valley – the flowers are white and the masses of blooming shrubs along the roadways and hillsides are quite beautiful.

Our Tuesday hiking group went up some old ranch roads northwest of Pearrygin Lake yesterday.  The views were stunning, even from where we parked:

How green is my Valley

There was a heavy snowstorm in the Cascades Sunday night and into Monday, so the mountains had a fresh coat of new snow.  The hillsides in the valley are carpeted with new green grasses and flowers.  It won’t stay this green forever, but it sure is beautiful now!

It was windy and cold so we had to bundle up:

Sunflowers and vistas in abundance:

Three of us explored up the road past the lunch/turnaround spot, hoping to find a route that led over the hill to another network of roads, but it petered out on us.  On the way back down we saw dozens and dozens of mountain bluebirds in the fields around us.  I had my binoculars along so I could get a really close look at them.  Then I wished I had the big camera with the telephoto lens, instead of my little pocket-sized digital camera!

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It was hard to think of a title for this post since I am mostly trying to keep apace with events.

No pictures today of the new house, but we have been up there all week painting.  It turned out that most of the interior was painted a flat battleship gray only because that was a tinted primer or undercoat – not meant to be the final color!  Rick and I painted all three bedrooms, the laundry room, and the living/dining room – 2 coats.  It just about did my lower back in, unfortunately, and I am hobbling around here today.  We wound up hiring a professional to do the hallways and entry (which is 2 stories tall in places).  So now everything is painted except the kitchen and we can start moving some things in.  We have decided to go ahead and have the drywall done in my studio space, so we will have to hold off moving some things until that is completed, hopefully by the end of March.

I did take a day off to go hiking with my Tuesday group.  There were only 6 of us and we headed down valley in search of a place where the snow would be mostly gone.   “Mud season” can be challenging!  We went down south of Carlton to a wildlife area that used to be the Judd Ranch (cattle ranch).  A little hard to find if you don’t know it is there, which is a plus as far as we were concerned.  We walked up an old ranch road that climbed steadily for a couple of miles, and the views up higher were wonderful – looking off to the west to the hills and mountains between Gold Creek and Libby Creek.  This is definitely a place to go back to in a couple of weeks when the wildflowers start emerging.  There was still some snow and ice on the road where it was shaded.

Judd Ranch road hiking

Judd Ranch Wildlife Area

The gray hills of early spring

The gray hills of early spring

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A good Friday

Not too much to report here, but yesterday was a nice well-rounded day.  Rick went up to town to have a coffee date with some of his friends at the Cinnamon Twisp bakery in the morning, and I made good progress on the bookwork while he was gone.  After he returned and we had some lunch, we suited up and headed up to Loup Loup South Summit for some XC skiing.  They had just groomed that morning and it was relatively clear and cold-ish so the trails were in pretty good shape.  We were out for 2 hours and it felt great!

Not too much to take pictures of (just trees and snow, what can I say?) except on the way back we did come to a nice viewpoint to the west and the mountains:

Today we’re driving to Wenatchee so Rick can pick up a bearing he needs to fix his planer, which has been out of commission for 2 weeks.  He ordered parts from a place in the Midwest, but they sent the wrong bearing and now it is taking forever to get it re-sent.  Found out he could get one in Wenatchee, and we need to make a trip to Costco anyway, so off we go.

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Greetings from the soggy Methow Valley.   We have had a steady supply of precipitation – if only it would stay about 5 degrees colder… then it would stay as snow.  At least we got a nice 3-4″ over Saturday night, and some of it is still on the ground, but the roads are once again completely clear.  Last week we twice went on a 2-1/2 mile round trip walk up our road, to the end of pavement, which most winters is a treacherously icy affair, best not attempted.

I hear most of the groomed ski trails in the valley are still in decent shape, though.  There was a big national level Nordic ski race here last weekend, the SuperTour, and they had to change the venue in part from the track near Liberty Bell High School to the north summit of Loup Loup (which has a groomed ski trail system of its own).  By all accounts the conditions were good and it went off well.

Not at the championship level ourselves, we were content to ski some of the trails up at Loup Loup South Summit last Sunday.  It was a little slow but not sticky and we were out for at least 2 hours.  Towards the end we had a light snow mixed with rain, so we got pretty wet, but it was great to be out there and doing it!

Yesterday I went with my Tuesday group for a snowshoe outing.  We drove up the Twisp River Road and tried the Buttermilk Sno-Park (not tracked and too icy), another spot at the end of plowing up the south side of the Twisp River (neighbors known to be unfriendly to parking there, were home, and some of our group were nervous…), and finally the end of plowing up the main Twisp River Road.  There we had luck and saw only that some skiers had been in before us.  We had to “break trail” but the surface was firm so it wasn’t too much work.

This was the turn-around spot for some, the beaver ponds and a rather grey outlook:

Twisp River beaver ponds

Four of us continued on to War Creek Campground for a lunch break and turn-around spot.  We figured we did 5 miles round trip, and I was a little tired!  But had a lovely hot soak in the tub on returning home.

On the fiber arts front, I finished my third Jared Flood hat from his “Made in Brooklyn” booklet.  I used my handspun grey Corriedale plus a strand of grey Rowan Kidsilk Haze.  It is wonderfully soft and springy!

I also finished up spinning some dyed wool roving that I bought from Heidi Parra at The Artful Ewe in Port Gamble about 2 years ago.  The roving was dyed mainly green with some areas of brown-into-black, so the color varies subtly along the length of the spun singles.  I wanted to ply it with something else so I could get more yardage, so rummaged around in the spinning fiber boxes and came up some baby camel/merino (50/50 blend).  So here is the final yarn, it is a 2-ply and about fingering weight.  I have 220 gm total or about 1/2 lb of yarn, approx 850 yds and I think it will be knit into a lace shawl.

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My Tuesday hiking group went up to the abandoned fire lookout on Leecher Mountain yesterday.  That is right above our place so the group picked me up at 8:15 AM on their way up the road to the National Forest.

Leecher Mountain Lookout

Leecher Mountain Lookout

It’s not a very long hike, only about a mile from the locked gate, but the views to the west and north into the Methow Valley are very good.  Not much snow left on the high peaks.  We are having a drier than normal year in the northern part of the Cascades.

Leecher Mtn 2I also climbed the stairs as far as I could go (you can’t actually enter the lookout) and could gaze out to the Okanogan valley to the east and our own Benson Creek drainage to the north, but there was nothing particularly picture-worthy.

Rick and I drove down to Wenatchee in the afternoon, “did Costco” and then picked up a Wells Cargo enclosed utility trailer that we found last week on Craig’s List.  It’s in fine shape and we are quite happy with it.  Then we had dinner with friends in Wenatchee before driving home, arriving close to midnight.  A long day!

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Big Buck

Friends from Ashland, Oregon visited this weekend.  We have known them for over 35 years, and as always, it was a great visit, although short.

On Friday we went up the Twisp River and then Frost Road to the Big Buck Wildlife Area, and walked from Big Buck Lake to Aspen Lake, a distance of about 2 miles along old ranch roads.  The arrowleaf balsamroot (“sunflowers”) are in full bloom now, and it is really a spectacular year for this signature flower of the Methow.  The plants are vigorous and full of flowers, and the hillsides are carpeted in yellow.

just like old times

just like old times

A view of Mocassin Lake and the snow-covered peaks of the North Cascades/Pasayten Wilderness to the north:

Mocassin Lake amidst sunflower-covered hills

Mocassin Lake amidst sunflower-covered hills

And here are some shots of the arrowleaf balsamroot:

Big Buck 3

Big Buck 4

We finished up the day at the Twisp River Pub, where local musicians Leah Larson, Brad Pinkerton and Paul Gitchos opened for the band – bluegrass/”alternative country” vocalists Laura Love and Mollie O’Brien, with guitarist Rich Moore and slide-guitarist Orville Johnson.  The place was packed!

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Shawl-o-rama

Sorry I haven’t been blogging much lately!  I have been trying to spend a lot of time with the loom, finishing some shawls for now.  I am building an inventory so that I will be able to participate in the Twisp Farmers Market this summer.  I sent in my application yesterday.  They operate April through October, Saturdays from 9-12, but I will probably wait until it warms up a bit in May before testing the waters.

Here are 4 shawls I finished this week.  Two used the “Arctic” colorway wool boucle warp.  On the first one I used black alpaca for the main weft color and a turquoise blue kid mohair/silk blend for the stripes.  On the other I used a rich brown alpaca for the main weft color and a burgundy kid mohair/silk blend for the stripes.

"Arctic" shawls with black and brown alpaca

"Arctic" shawls with black and brown alpaca

The other two used the “Copper” colorway wool boucle warp.  On the first one I used black alpaca for the main weft color and a fuchsia kid mohair/nylon blend for the stripes.  On the other I used a red alpaca (which I picked up at the knitting retreat “stash reduction” sale at a bargain price – thanks, Janet!) and a gold kid mohair/silk blend for the stripes.

"Copper" shawls with black and red alpaca

"Copper" shawls with black and red alpaca

The last 2 days I wound the warps for 5 more shawls, and have started weaving the first of those.  I am on a roll!

We’ve also been trying to get out walking – the weather has been mostly fair, with some cloudy days, and still getting down to freezing at night.  But the snow is disappearing fast, at least in our yard.

Last Monday we went for a nice long walk up the Balky Hill Road with our friend Hannchen, who was over from the coast.  Balky Hill is across the river and somewhat north of Twisp.  It’s a steady uphill climb with fine views to the west and south.

Above Bonner Lake on Balky Hill Road

Above Bonner Lake on Balky Hill Road

Looking for birds on Balky Hill Road

Looking for birds on Balky Hill Road

Mountains to the west from Balky Hill Road

Mountains to the west from Balky Hill Road

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