Dan and Sally owners of THE CHEWUCH INN are hosting my stay once again. Heading for home this time. THANK YOU so much for the hospitality!!
I leave behind emerald green waters rushing westward to the Pacific Ocean. I will miss the short season of wild thimbleberries and blackberries. Fields of strawberries and blueberries which the Skagit Valley is known for were not quite ripe. The terrain changes dramatically from that rich, luscious, thick, colorful “Garden of Eden” land of western Washington to a much more subtle, drier, open land of eastern Washington. Divided by the magnificent Cascade Mountain Range.
I first heard about the Mazama Country Store in Chewelah, WA. I was told it was a “hoydee toydee” store. I might describe the store as an old-time mercantile look blended with an uptown Seattle look hosting a wide selection of specialty foods, deli and bakery all wrapped in wood sidewalks and a charming patio with picnic tables. A very unusual store considering it’s in the middle of no where – well its at the far west end of the Methow Valley. Missy and Dan Ledue bought the store 16 years ago when it still appeared pretty shabby. The trail system and tourist business were still in its infancy and had not been developed as it is now. So I asked Missy, “Was it not kind of risky taking on such a business venture back then?” She said she was raised in family business venture, in Seattle, she brought support and know how with her. She and her husband Dan created a jewel. I walked in and just stopped and then said to myself, “What’s this all about? How can this be here? Who did this?” It’s a family run store. I met two teenage daughters and son who appeared competent enough to take over the store. When I asked if they had plans to do so they smiled and well it was apparent they were interested. May 26th I camped across the street from the store. I got up and walked over for coffee and breakfast which was “on the house.” Pesto egg sandwich and blueberry scone…fabulous! I visited with Logan, a young music major working at the Mazama Store for the summer. His hands were full, making sandwiches. He said he would make 500 sandwiches for the weekend! Good Golly! I rode out late Friday morning. The really busy hours were still ahead but they were set, they were ready and willing with smiles…..
I have to tell you a “trail angel” story. I rode into Mazama the first time, heading west, after a night with the Burkharts who own Early Winters Ranch a mile east of Mazama and run a string of 100 horses for Outfitting and trail rides…beside running a working ranch I might add.
I really had no idea of how I would logistically ride over the pass. There’d be no grass for two days. I could have packed out feed from the Burkharts but I hated to pack so much weight on the horses for that long, I still had days to ride. I stopped at the Mazama Store not so much for supplies but rather out of curiosity how could I not? Smiles greeted me. There I met Cheryl Crosby, alias “trail angel.” We talked for sometime and then she said I am going to come out and check up on you!!! more of a telling me rather than asking voice, she was determined to see me safely over that pass. (her husband volunteers for the fire dept.- it must run in the family) So I said if you come out would you bring my grain? And she did she brought 50pds of grain form my girls. I tried to force money upon her, NO WAY! She did accept at least a DVD momentum from me. Well I just thought that was the kindest thing. I rode as far as Lone Fir Campground still a good deal of snow and NO food for the horses! OH my thank you so much from my horses, thank you so much Cheryl. I so remember her standing there saying, “You are going to have such a spectacular ride over to the coast, everything will work out great, it will be wonderful, don’t worry!” In my mind I am going, “You have know idea what I must still go through lady.” And I didn’t know, I just had her words to go on and I shoved faith and trust down my throat and into every cell in my body and rode on. But then as you already know I did indeed have one of the very best rides ever from Winthrop to Padilla Bay and back again.
We rode (memorial day weekend) with the flow of traffic not water as we came eastward over “the pass” as it is referred to by locals. Highway #20 raced with a steady stream of cars and pickup trucks pulling travel RV’s boasting names like “Adventure” “Escape 19” “Sunset” driven by people hungry for the out-of-doors seeking it in the only way they know how, with lots of stuff. But then John Muir legendary naturalist, outdoorsman and father of our National Forest Service and Park lands, would say I carry an awful lot of stuff. Muir in the 1950’s walked the Sierras with nothing more than the clothes on his back and slept covered by leaves. So it is all relative. What is not is that we have places and spaces where we can go. Where our needs and hungers for nature can be satisfied. Public Lands they are truly our national treasure well worth holding on to, a must to hold on. Something that stands out in the entire Methow Valley is the trail system of hiking, biking, riding and skiing it’s incredible as is the desire to keep the natural surrounding beauty through careful land use planning and zoning.
Four miles or so from Mazama a car stopped and two people leaped from their car waving their arms yelling, “Bernice, Bernice.” What the heck is that all about….SUPRISE! SUPRISE… Friends from Trego heading to Anacortes. Good golly miss molly!!!
I have a 8 day ride up and over several mountain passes all back roads to Republic where I have 4 talks and will up date the website. Only about 200 miles to ride. Chewelah is the end of the trail. They have promised a party, we shall see, maybe they’ve forgotten who the lady with the big hat is! smiles