Fuster Cluck

Today turned out to be a bit of a fuster cluck. More on that later, but first an update on the ongoing celebration called Susanne and Roger bumming around the country.

We have settled in nicely to our house up in the mountains outside of Wenatchee. I think Sadie is glad to be settling down in a place for awhile; we have really put her through a lot lately. At first she couldn’t settle, but once we showed her all the comfortable furniture that was at her disposal, she has been much happier.

Sadie using white noise therapy for a nap

The back decks are wonderful and face the small creek that runs by the house. It so pleasant to sit out there and listen to rushing water and just feeling the gentle flow of time…and a nice Pinot passing over your lips 🙂 Sadie definitely appreciates it (not the Pinot).

Wenatchee is at an elevation of around 700′. The house sits up around 3500′ and the ski area is another 1500′ above that. I was hoping to ride my bike up and down the “hill,” but the lower 3 miles are a bit narrow and busy. Above that, it gets much better…but the grade averages around 10%. Better start training.

The weather was pretty stinky hot down in Wenatchee, but has been very pleasant up here. The smoke has come and gone, but hasn’t been too bad so that made all three of us quite happy.

After a day of chores down in Wenatchee, I decided to go for a MTB ride in the state park next to the house. The trails were quite fun if not exhausting at times. They snake around and around and around. You are constantly making hairpin turns, but they are super well engineered so they are quite easy and they put so many in the gradient is low on the climbs

Twisty turny trails at Squilchuck State Park

There are a ton of little wood bridges you have to navigate as well. Evidently, the neighbor next door hand split all of the planks. Most of them were no problem, but a few were pretty elevated and were only one or two planks wide. I chose to walk those. Maybe after 60 years I am starting to get smarter.

On our second morning, we drove up the road to do a 4 mile hike up the Devil’s Spur. It was a pleasant hike that came out into a nice view spot looking all the way down into the valley. It was still a bit smokey, so it wasn’t a dramatic as it might have been on a clear day. I wanted to scope it out for riding as well, because it leads to an area that is, to quote one of the MTB websites “unquestionably the best ride in all of Washington”. Them is big words.

View from Devil’s Spur

Overall, the trail was predominantly blue and no problem. A few tricky steeps with some rocks, but almost all of it was rideable except for the last few hundred yards which were pretty exposed. The riding itself wouldn’t be hard, but the penalty points for screwing up are bigger than an old fart like me would be willing to experience. So, bottom line: Very doable with some hike-a-bike in a few sections.

Ok, so now on to the Fuster Cluck. I had wanted to head up toward Leavenworth and do a hike up to a lake where we could enjoy the amazing views and do a little lake fishing. There were a bunch, but I found one that looked like a good distance and not too hard — Eightmile lake. I sent the link to Susanne and she approved. The only minor concern raised was the “rough road to get to the trailhead.” Awesome, no worries for Lewis. He loves offroading.

We had coffee, packed up the stuff and headed out.

One thing here in Washington, is that almost everywhere you go, you need to have a pass (Discover Pass) that allows you to park on all the state lands. Normally, this would be easy to do online, but we have no way to print, so we needed to go to the forest service office and get one. So that was our fist stop. We got there and couldn’t quite tell where the front door was. After a few attempts, Susanne came back and informed me that because of COVID they only issued Discover Passes if you had an appointment. Doh! Boofer #1.

Yes, you really do need this

We figured there must be some way to pay for parking at the trailhead and lacking any other options, we headed out toward Leavenworth. The next logistical challenge was the fishing licenses. Usually not difficult, but nothing was open until 10 and again, we had no printer to do it on line. In Leavenworth, I decided I would just do it on line and save an image to my phone — hopefully that would be enough for the watchful eyes of Washington State Forest Service agents.

Super excited to go hike in there!

The drive up from Leavenworth was stunningly beautiful. A hint of fall colors, mixed with towering peaks and the gorgeous green color of the Wenatchee river. It was all going well now.

We hit the dirt road section and they were not kidding — it was pretty darn rough. Yeah for Lewis!

There were a fair number of people at the trailhead and we drove up to the information sign. Susanne let out a big “oh shit.” What?! She informed that there were no dogs allowed on the trail to Eightmile lake. Ugh. I have never experienced that before except in National Parks. WTF! Boofer #2. Neither of us had seen that on the trail description.

First up the rough dirt road and then right back down again

We drove back down the rough dirt road with Sadie wondering what the heck was going on. We drove down to another trailhead to see if that also was “no dogs allowed” and sadly it was. I guess there is a special designation for this wilderness where they don’t allow dogs. What the heck.

We looked around for another trail to hike, but couldn’t find anything that fit the bill. Susanne found a nice little trail that ran along the Wenatchee river, so we settled for that. It wasn’t great, but the river was beautiful. Deeps pools that were an amazing green. At one we saw a bunch of fish rising. On our return we looked down and could see a huge school of salmon in there. Sadly, or happily, the river is closed for spawning season, so we could only look at them.

cool footbridge

We now both had the full sense that the day had been a total Fuster Cluck and we should just probably head back to Wenatchee and get a fishing license and a parking pass and call it a day.

Editor’s note: Boofer #3 consisted of confirming that the National Forest office in Leavenworth was *also* closed except by appointment. Not surprising at this point. By the way, Leavenworth is a surprisingly kitschy town, branded as a Bavarian Village. There are signs in German all over the place, and even the Safeway sign is printed in some sort of Bavarian-looking font.

We successfully got our various passes, a new fishing reel and some quite useless fishing advice from the dude in Sportsman’s Paradise store and then headed back up to the house.

We spent some time researching other possible hikes that did allow dogs. I have to say, the whole “no dog” thing has soured me a bit on the Cascades. I get “dogs on leash” and “pick up your poop” but to not allow them is absurd in my book. You always hear the reasons stated as “dog pee will scare off the wildlife” which quite frankly isn’t supported by the science. Eeeeerrrrrggggg. But there you have it.

Susanne vandalized the bridge with her paint can

Feeling upset about that turn of events, I decided to go for a quick ride up to the ski area on my road bike. Now, as you all know, words need context, so quick was in the context of a 1500′ climb in 3.2 miles. For those that are good with math, you already realize that that is about a 10% grade average. For those that aren’t, let’s just suffice it to say that it was clucking steep and quick meant creeping along at the pace of a pregnant moose.

But the day ended with success.

Steep? Yes, sir

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