Moms in the Methow

Last weekend Lindsay and I headed to the Methow Valley for what might have to become an annual Dirtbag Moms Weekend. Lindsay and I both have amazing kiddos, but up until last weekend, Lindsay had yet to be away from her 1-yr old for more than 12 consecutive hrs… so it was time! In addition, her adorable 1-yr old is not yet sleeping through the night on a regular basis… so adventure was our priority, but sleep and relaxation weren’t far behind. As Lindsay put it, she was really excited to NOT wake up to someone screaming at her in the morning. (I briefly contemplated knocking on her van window and screaming “MAMA!” at 5 am, but ultimately decided against it. Next time!)

We tried to get Methow local and fellow coach Alison to join us, but she’s pregnant, caring for a toddler, and fighting a summer cold (when you have a toddler, summer colds are a thing), so she couldn’t make it. Instead she gave us lots of great trail ideas. Thanks Alison!

Dirtbag Moms, unite!
Livin the dream, where “the dream” = camping in a creepy white van for the weekend and not being responsible for a single living being other than yourself.

Day 1 – Driveway Butte-ish

We met up Sunday late afternoon at the Driveway Butte trailhead. Alison had mentioned that Driveway Butte might be snow-free, so we decided to make a half-assed early evening attempt at reaching the old lookout site. With sunset at 830 pm, we figured we’d have just enough time to make it up and back before dark, assuming there wasn’t any snow. Unfortunately, we hit snow on a north-facing slope at around 5100 ft, just under 3 miles in. We postholed around for 20 minutes before heading back down. If you’re determined, you can make it to the top. We weren’t feeling determined. Or rather, we were determined… to curl up in the back of our comfy vans and get some sleep.

Other important details about Driveway Butte: Currently plenty of water up there, what with all the snowmelt. Although we didn’t get to the top, it was still a good outing: gloriously snow-free until 5100 ft, slopes abloom with balsamroot, and gorgeous views of the North Cascades. Road was snow-free and suitable for all vehicles. And not another soul in sight on a sunny Sunday evening. Total for the evening was a little less than 6 miles and 2100 ft of climbing.

Silver Star as seen from Driveway Butte trail
Slopes of Driveway Butte, with Hwy 20 snaking up towards Washington Pass in the distance
Dusk at Driveway Butte with the Needles (?) in the background


Day 2 – Twisp River and Twisp Pass trails

The next morning I woke up before Lindsay and let her snooze while I went to the Mazama Store and got some work done. Lindsay met me an hour later, we had some breakfast on the outdoor patio, and then headed for the day’s objective: Twisp River trail to Twisp Pass. I admit that late starts are not my typical m.o., but it was actually pretty nice to sit outside in the sun, unhurriedly sipping coffee and eating scones and bagels. I will never turn down a pre-dawn start, but relaxed mornings are fun too.

We made the long but scenic drive out Twisp River Rd until we reached the wash-out (pictured below). We deemed the wash-out passable by my AWD van, but not Lindsay’s VW camper. We were looking for time-on-our-feet anyway, so we parked before the wash-out and ran the road to the clearly signed Scatter Creek trailhead, where we picked up the Twisp River trail.

Wash out on Twisp River Rd, approx 2 miles before Scatter Creek trailhead.

The Twisp River trail, from Scatter Creek trailhead to its end at the Twisp Pass trail junction, is in great condition. Although the Twisp River is rarely visible along the trail, let alone accessible, there are plenty of creek crossings where you can refill bottles and splash your face. Zero blowdowns. Small patches of snow start at 3900 ft and by the time we reached the junction with Twisp Pass trail, the trail was completely covered, but we were fine without flotation or traction.

We’d like to think we were the first on the trail this year. OK, maybe the first to access the trail via Scatter Creek. OK, maybe the first to access the trail via Scatter Creek who bothered to sign the log. Whatever. A blank register is still cool!
Abandoned building in the “town” of Gilbert.
Creepier than my van.


Twisp River trail just after Gilbert
Grabbing fresh water from raging North Creek. In the morning the water was cool and clear. In the afternoon, on our way back, the water was had become silty with glacial run-off.
Glacier lilies popping up through the snow along the Twisp River trail


We missed this junction the first time through, and went about 1/2 mile up the North Lake trail accidentally. You want to turn left here to stay on Twisp River Trail. Straight ahead takes you to North Lake. If you’re paying attention and not yabbering with your friend, you should be fine.
Snow near the junction of Twisp River and Twisp Pass trails.

We went about 1 mile up Twisp Pass trail, to a rocky outcropping with gorgeous views. Twisp Pass trail had approximately half-dozen blowdowns, as well as extended sections of rotten snow that did a great job of hiding tree wells and rock wells. Although the trail was 100% covered at the Twisp River/Twisp Pass trail junction, coverage became patchy again as we wrapped back around to the south. The rocky outcropping itself was snow-free and would make a great camp site.

We stopped at the rocky outcropping, sat in the sunshine, took a bunch of pictures, and attempted to identify the surrounding peaks. While Lindsay dried her feet I went a bit further up the trail, and conditions remained the same: patchy rotten snow, occasional blowdowns, minor route-finding required. As with Driveway Butte, if you hit the trail at a reasonable hour and are willing to deal with some annoying post-holing, you could likely make it to Twisp Pass.

Our total for the day was just under 20 miles and 3k of gain (this includes a few accidental and intentional side trips).

View from the rocky outcropping. Hock Mountain on the right.
Trying to get a photo of both of us AND the mountains. Very difficult. (Hock on left, Twisp Mountain on right.)
Abernathy Peak in the back left
Dinner at East 20 Pizza. Planning world domination…. or eating a pepperoni.

Day 3 – Ridin bikes!

We woke up to yet another crappy day in the Methow. Birds chirping, sun shining, flowers blooming. How do people even live here?

Back to Mazama Store we went for coffee and breakfast. And then it was time for some bike riding. Lindsay used to ride her bike really fast for really short periods of time, so I made her pull me up and down Lost River Rd and Hwy 20.


My view for most of the morning.
I have major mustache-glove envy!
Just another crappy day in the Methow


Packing up to head home: socks aren’t supposed to stand up by themselves.
We drove slowly and stared at the mountains on our way home (Vasiliki Ridge and Silver Star from a pull-out on Highway 20)
If this looks like your idea of heaven, Lindsay’s van is for sale!


Close-up of Silver Star

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