First Annual “Dad Camp”!
After reading about this trail that runs Washington State, north and south, from border to border, we had to check it out. My kids had been begging to do some camping and I was needing a vacation. They typically attended camps in the past summer and where looking forward to this years summer camps as well. I decided to add a week of camp of my own. So “Dad Camp” was born. This was a trip for just them and myself to go on an adventure and share the memories together.
This was ended up being a test run for the rig, the kids, and myself. We hadn’t ever done anything really like this and between all the planning and getting the kids ready to camp for multiple days was decent task.
Saturday morning we packed up and hit the road. We are lucky enough that we get to drive the North Cascades Highway when we want to cross over the mountains. It is a very scenic drive. If you ever get the chance to drive over it, I recommend that you do.
A few hours of driving and we arrived in Winthrop. This the best place to get ice cream. Stop even if it is busy. Its worth it. After some ice cream we carried on not much further through Twisp and fueled up. First stop…. Silver!
There was not much to see here but an open field nestled against the hill and near the Methow River. There are some nice historical markers to read and gain a little view into the past. From this point on we were mostly on dirt roads. The forests had seen fires a year or two earlier and made for an interesting landscape.
We stopped often to check out the sights! While we took our time exploring and the day began to come to an end, we needed to find a place to camp. I did not have a spot picked out but rather multiple spots we could try if we didn’t find a spot to call home along our route. The fires not only burned almost every tree but the following spring, there was no vegetation to hold the slopes together. There were quite a few mudslide locations. One we encountered just about buried a whole campground.
After a successful day we made camp at a location called Rock Lakes. Great spot up in the mountains. Not much for views due to being in a low spot and the lakes where far below us and could not be seen from camp. A short hike down the hill and the lakes came within site. We were the only people here and some one was kind enough to leave some firewood behind. One of the favorite part of camping for my kids is the campfire and eating hotdogs. Hotdogs and smores for dinner it was. Not glamourous.
Next day we set out and right away came across some more fire damage. Stopped here and went to go check it out. Well, we had been beaten to the spot. The chimney was full of bees. I could not get close enough to get a good look inside but there was a decent swarm outside.
Onward… we spent most of the day in the vehicle spotting wildlife and taking in the vast open meadows in the mountains. These places trigger my imagination and makes me stop and think about what it might have been like to live in places such as these long ago. My kids on the other hand spend there time running around, catching bugs, picking flowers, and taking pictures of things they find interesting.
As we climbed higher and higher in the mountains, we crested the highest point of the trail on Lone Frank Pass (elev. 6767 ft). Headed down out of the mountains we came across an old fallen in cabin and corral on the Skull and Crossbones Road. Once again, we were on the lookout for a nice place to call home for the night.
A few miles off the route there is a lake called Chopaka Lake and we headed off in that direction. This spot was amazing. Isolated and quiet. Bald eagles sat in a tree across the lake from us for hours. There was a little muskrat family not ten feet from us gnawing down some reeds and then taking them to where they were working on a home. Fish jumped all evening. Another campfire and guess what? More hotdogs. The kids loved it so I guess that is what matters. Plus we made smores again and no one can complain about smores.
The last day we had a short amount of trail and some pavement to cover to get to the US/Canadian border. We made our way to the border and along the way came across the ghost town of Nighthawk. This area has great valley views! If you made it this far, take the time to read the historical markers you come across. Washington State has no shortage of scenery and historical events that will be sure to add to your adventue!