We (Essie, Spirit and I) are guests at the Chewuch Inn – Cabins and Lodging – www.chewuchinn.com – (Owners Dan and Sally Kuperberg did offer a room but I’m adamant about staying with the horses) I camped out back where they have a corral and shed, PERFECT! It’s just the prettiest place, a B&B, nicely located in town, quiet. If you come to Winthrop, stay here! smiles! We rode in late afternoon Sunday, May 9th, a day late and a dollar short for Winthrop’s “49er’s Days.” Aaron Lee and Judy Burkhart found me at the Red Barn auditorium wondering what to do. They’d heard about me from someone, not sure who but was very glad to see a truck pull up and a couple of smiles offering hope to a tired lady long rider. Aaron lee and Judy own Early Winters Ranch where I’ll be staying tomorrow night as I make my way across the North Cascade highway. The Burkharts and the Kuperbergs are good friends…thus my stay here. Winthrop is a big stop for me. I’ve had lots to do all day, boxes in from sponsors, boxes needing to go, website updating, more food and REST. Yeah right!!!
Winthrop is a unique town. I have never ridden through another town quite like it. A completely westernized theme town, but nicely done, drawing people from all over the world. There is so much to do here. They call it the “Swiss Alps” of Washington or something like that, its stunning. Hiking, horseback riding, bicycling, 4-wheeling, boating, fishing, swimming, have I missed anything, probably. I’ll write more about Winthrop on my return ride. I must say it is truly with-out doubt a “horse friendly” place. But I think Washington is by far the most horse friendly state I have ever ridden through.(this is my 3rd and 4th time crossing Washington) I think its the Garden of Eden state because its so green and luscious and water is everywhere and so easy to ride across. I am able to pick wild foods just about anywhere and the horses are, well lets say voluptuous, thanks to Washington’s generosity. But let me go back and tell you of my journey thus far…..
The first day out Gary Bellinger forwarded my panniers on-to Arden, via his pick up, letting us travel fast and light. Essie ran naked in the sun, grabbing mouthfuls of tall, green brome grass as we trotted along. It’s a nice way to start the horses out, give them a chance to travel with-out the heavy load. Lilac smell filled the air from enormous trees, purple, blue’s and white lilac’s, so pretty. I camped at the Rodeo Grounds in Arden and then had the unexpected treat of watching a drill team rehearse. Nearly twenty riders doing some complicated figurations, very impressive. Cindy Baskin is founder of the drill team. “Encouraging women to get out and do things,” was her reason for bringing it all together. They preform at local events its quite an undertaking. I say “Bravo” to Cindy and her husband Dave who helps enormously.
Gary did yet another haul with my panniers over to the Sherwood Creek Wildlife Area. Where Jerry “Chris” Christensen was expecting us. There I camped in a barn that had been moved from another part of the 8,700 acre wildlife area. After coming back from Texas in 2009 I realized the importance of our public lands. Texas has 2% of its state in public land. 2%!!!! It was like riding down a hallway and all the doors were locked, there was just no place to get off, go off to. Not like we have it up here in the Pacific Northwest. Public Land is SO IMPORTANT!! Mr. Christensen has been instrumental in making the Sherman Creek Wildlife Area a success. It is situated along the west side of Lake Roosevelt which begins at Kettle Falls. He is very proud of his work there. It supports a wide diversity of wildlife including both white-tail and mule deer, wild turkeys, both bald and golden eagles, osprey, bats and many varieties of songbirds. I could not say enough good things about the facility, check it out.
Jana Pekaar, who has come out to visit on every ride also arrived to haul my panniers over Sherman Pass. Her accordion playing has improved immensely! even Essie agreed.
Sherman Pass had snow, was no fun, camped on pavement in a parking lot, froze that night. Morning sun came late but was greatly welcomed. April 31st.
May 1st and 2nd. Spent two nights in Republic, another western type town, very friendly. The Ferry Fair Grounds were well kept by the grounds man Wayne, gracious and welcoming made me feel at home.
May 3rd I spent the night at a old school house in Waconda. Visitors Sarah Wilson whom I met earlier in the day and her friend Laurel brought food out. I am feeling tired by this time.
The next day just before “hanging rock” a dangerous sharp curve on Hwy 20 I came across a state work crew repairing the road. Well they were all very concerned about my safety and when the foreman arrived he took matters in to his own hands and did this…..
Gosh I hope he did not get into trouble for helping me like that, it was SOOO kind of him to do this. It actually said…”slow down, lady long, ahead.” Made my day, I rode safely on with a big smile on my face. THEN a few days later another gentleman from the same work crew JUST happen to be driving home from work as I neared Conconully when my packs slipped. Under Spirit’s belly they went. Now my girls are good and know to stop and just wait until the mess is fixed. But we were on a busy road and not much shoulder and here he comes just in the nick of time. MOST times I am scrambling as fast as I can to un-cinch the packs and undue everything from the horse and get it all dropped to the ground so I can reassemble but with help we could push it back in place, quick and easy. Gosh I soooo appreciate this kind of help. Chevalier is alive and well!!
May 4th as I neared Talkier Lake Rd (which I had intended on riding that evening) a storm whipped out of nowhere with wind and rain. I raced into an unexpected couples home who were quietly minding their own business. John and Janine House never knew what hit them, but they were good sports and let me sleep in their shop while the horses were out of the wind and safe. Thank you!
The ride down to Riverside, Wa. and across to Conconully could not have been more spectacular. As I said every where ever I ride it is luscious and water is gushing from snow melt. But the Talkier Lake Rd had devastation (mild compared to what I would see later) from forest fires that ravished Washington last year. I felt the effects as far way as Canada on my ride home last year. But I have never seen anything like I did on my ride from Conconully to Winthrop. From Conconully which was postcard beauty into this, wow. I had asked permission to ride #42 a forest service road which had been closed because of the burn. After riding it and seeing what I saw I was surprised the National Forest Service let me through.
AND THEN CAME THIS
The photos simply can not speak of the damage done from these horrendous fires. Sad day, left me exhausted and very sober that evening. Mother Nature can be harsh to say the least.
And now here we are in Winthrop having ridden through rain and wind, beauty and devastation. Having met a host of good people and a wide variety of campsites I called home, we are in Winthrop, Washington at the Chewuch Inn, thank you Sally and Dan. Thank you ALL of you. I have so needed help on this stretch in particular, its been greatly appreciated.
Essie Pearl- my beautiful girl at Meyers Falls, afternoon break