Wandering Down Highway 2

Wandering Down Highway 2

By: Shelby October 12, 2014 10:12 pm 55 comments

We tried to hike to Lake Valhalla on this past Saturday. We’ve had such a lovely run of clear fall weather lately, but I knew that wasn’t going to last forever. I checked the weather for Stevens Pass when I woke up… okay, it’s going to be a little rainy. No rain ever stopped us before, right? We packed our rain jackets, extra clothes, warm layers, bags for the cameras, etc, and we were on our way. “A nice fall hike in the mountains!” we thought as we sped along Highway 2 through Monroe, “It will be glorious! We love the rain!”

Lake Wenatchee State Park

Well, it wasn’t glorious in a gloriously drizzly, “let’s go walk through the woods and sigh wistfully” sort of way, but glorious in an “oh my the skies are really opening up” sort of way. As we drove deeper into the mountains towards the pass, the rain pounded down harder and harder. It was nice to drive down the lonely road in the rain, though, because the rain rarely falls like that in Seattle. It was beautiful and grey and quiet and thoughtful and all the things we love about fall. We finally came to the pass… and it was wet, very wet.

So, we kept driving. Where to? What now? What do we do? Meh, let’s go to Leavenworth! Oktoberfest! Sunshine! Fall colors! So we carried on down the road, looking for adventure. As soon as we were a few miles past Stevens Pass, the rain lightened and the colors brightened. “Where can we hike? Where can we see more of these amazing colors up close? LET’S TURN HERE!”

So we ended up at Lake Wenatchee State Park, but for maybe just 10 minutes, because the rain was following us the whole time. Also, getting out of the car, we were instantly reminded that fall is here. “Holy crap it’s cold!” There were a few others running around in the rain, and a few parasail surfers were getting tossed around on the lake.

The rain coming in over the lake

LWSP-1-2

LWSP-2

We jumped back in the car and sped towards Leavenworth, hoping to leave the rain far behind us. No such luck, though. We’d pull over for a second and hop out to look at the leaves, and just as soon as the cameras came out, the rain would start to fall. “Let’s stop at the next pull spot” we’d say, and run back to the car.

LWSP-3

LWSP-4

This was the first time we had driven down Highway 2 since the Chiwaukum Creek wildfires blazed through over the summer. (Credit goes to Michael Stanford for amazing shot, and Reddit users BlondeGirlTinyBrain and jwBTC for the side by side comparison.) The fire was brutal, but the forest will bounce back, just as it always does. The rich fall foliage contrasted sharply with the burnt mountainsides just around the curve of the road.

SHOT OF THE FIRES AND PREVIOUS GOOGLE STREET VIEW

SHOT OF THE FIRES AND PREVIOUS GOOGLE STREET VIEW

Fall Foliage on the Wenatchee River

Fall Foliage on the Wenatchee River

We arrived at Leavenworth, and Oktoberfest was in full swing. We crawled around town, trolling for parking, which was impossible to find. The weather was deteriorating, and we were getting hungry, so we drove across town to the only restaurant that had a parking spot, Kristall’s Restaurant & Lounge. After sampling some of the offerings of local brewery Icicle Brewing Company (Dirtyface Amber and Bootjack IPA, yum!) along with lunch, we started on our way back home through the mountains to Seattle. Also, no trip along Hwy 2 would be complete without a stop at Old School BBQ.

LWSP-1-3

This dude is ready to party

This dude is ready to party

Leaving Leavenworth

Leaving Leavenworth

What a great day! We didn’t get to do what we set out to do, but exploring the road was almost as good as exploring the trail.

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