Larch Hunting in the Methow Valley - ClubTread Community

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post #1 of (permalink) Old 10-16-2013, 11:28 PM Thread Starter
Off the Beaten Path
Join Date: Feb 2006
Location: Burnaby, BC, Canada.
Posts: 829
Default Larch Hunting in the Methow Valley

"You know hunting season just opened today, right?" the friendly camp host smiled at us.
Yep... we're hunting too!

The U.S. government shutdown means facilities and campgrounds are closed in both the National Parks and National Forests but we weren't going to let that stop us from accomplishing our Thanksgiving weekend goals. The good news is that the trails are still open in the National Forests and with a bit of research, it wasn't too hard to plan a great trip to experience the wonderful colours of autumn in the Methow Valley: east of Cascade National Park and west of the town of Winthrop.

[u]Day One: Pearrygin Lake State Park</u>

It was a pleasant drive through at least four different climate zones to get to the Okanogan landscape of Winthrop. No larches here, but the deciduous trees circling the lake were putting on quite the show! After gleaning info from the camp-host and setting up, we donned our brightest-coloured clothing and wandered along the Rex <s>Deer</s> Derr trail for a lovely view of the lake.

Just by the "No Hunting" signs, we were greeted by some seemingly-literate groups of deer. At any rate, they didn't seem to be bothered by our presence, though their ears twitched at the sounds of guns in the near distance. They looked so cute that we shot a few:

[u]Day Two: Harts Pass</u>

Do a quick google search and you'll find adjectives describing the road up to Harts Pass as "treacherous," "terrifying," and "spectacular." While there are some very narrow sections with huge drop-offs, this road that climbs up to 7,200ft is actually made to be 2wd accessible and isn't any worse than a typical mountain FRS you'd find in BC. For the most part, the road bed is quite good, and it was actually preferable to be in a smalller vehicle when we met big Ford trucks full of happy hunters coming the other way in those tight spots- so much easier to squeeze by in a sedan!

We had thought of going on up to Slate Peak, but the snow started encroaching on the road, and we decided to park for a little stroll on the PCT into the Pasayten Wilderness, mingling with those larches.

It was such a beautiful day, and we thoroughly enjoyed the last couple hours of sunshine setting up camp in the snow, while the larches glowed above us.

[u]Day 3: Blue Lake</u>

We still had a bit of time left for a larch huntin' hike: so we stopped off on our way home at the Blue Lake trailhead for a shortish jaunt up to the lake. Snow started to cover the trail on the fourth switchback and microspikes were nice to have, but not neccessary.

The view of the back of Liberty Bell from here is awesome, as is the one across the highway of Cutthroat Peak. We'd had an early start, so we had only seen one other group on the way up, but those lovely larches and the beauty of the Early Winter Spires backdrop at the lake is a big draw- as a result, the trail was a whole lot busier on our decent.

Thanks, ShoelessJohn and Slipperypants for another fantastic long-weekend trip. [^]

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post #2 of (permalink) Old 10-17-2013, 07:05 PM
Off the Beaten Path
Join Date: Jul 2003
Location: Powell River, BC, .
Posts: 609

Most cool! Love that Methow Valley, and the area around Winthrop and Twisp. I never realized they had larches there - I must have looked at them many times, but not absorbed the fact that I was looking at larches.

Last time we drove to Harts Pass it was late August, and the road had been opened only the day before after a massive rock slide in the spring. The portion through the rock slide was quite hairy - glad to hear it is no longer that way.

Love the way you take shoulder season trips.
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post #3 of (permalink) Old 10-17-2013, 08:43 PM
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Join Date: Apr 2005
Location: Abbotsford, B.C., Canada.
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That is ;one fine trip, with a reward to see thoses larches in their autumn colours.

Pretty area I never visited.

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post #4 of (permalink) Old 10-17-2013, 08:50 PM Thread Starter
Off the Beaten Path
Join Date: Feb 2006
Location: Burnaby, BC, Canada.
Posts: 829

Thanks, Susie.
Yeah, I had been thinking that too: if I was here in the summer, it probably wouldn't even have registered that I was seeing larches; and yet, they are there in many spots.
When I was researching the valley, I found lots of great larch hikes- what an awesome area for autumn trips. [^]

Yikes, about that rockslide! Must have been freaky. [:0]
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post #5 of (permalink) Old 10-17-2013, 08:54 PM
Hittin' the Trails
Join Date: Apr 2013
Location: Langley, BC, .
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Few more pics...

Thanks Piika & Shoeless John for a memorable trip. Not to forget the most worthwhile bushwhack to the pond to catch the quails, the friendly deer hunter drivers on the treacherous road & my toasty gonads melting the snow under the footprint on my first snow camp!! The nature the friends and the invariable stories after trips like these [8D] - what're u gonna do...
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post #6 of (permalink) Old 10-18-2013, 08:36 AM
Scaling New Heights
Join Date: Jun 2010
Location: Langley, BC, Canada.
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Wow! these are amazing shots
I love the title, Larch Hunting...totally something I would do, or Blueberry bagging, Huckleberry hunting and Ridge running
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post #7 of (permalink) Old 10-19-2013, 01:13 PM
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post #8 of (permalink) Old 10-20-2013, 07:46 PM Thread Starter
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Location: Burnaby, BC, Canada.
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quote:Originally posted by Chaz

Blueberry bagging, Huckleberry hunting and Ridge running
Nice! Everyone loves an awesome alliteration! []
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post #9 of (permalink) Old 10-20-2013, 11:37 PM
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Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 4,662

For all the times I was at Pearrygin Lake, I never hiked the trail around it. Were there any coyotes howling at night? I find their distant cries haunting yet peaceful. The camp hosts at the lake are delightful. One fall I camped there on BC Thanksgiving weekend and the overnight temperatures fell to 7F. The hosts put heaters in the ample bathrooms for the three campsites with tents. In the morning the sprinklers on the grass near the lake had frozen, creating bizarre sculptures that melted in the heat of the sun.

And you camped at the same site as I did, back this past July, at Meadows campground near Harts Pass. Oh what a difference a few months make. That's quite a bit of snow on the ground !

The road to Harts Pass indeed requires caution (in particular the 0.5 mile stretch called Dead Horse Point). I drove a small car up there and encountered three vehicles on the way down, at Dead Horse Point. The pullouts on the 'airy' side were sufficient for my car and their trucks to pass without anyone touching. I like your photos of the way down from the dropoffs, it's a very long way to the river below.

Blue Lake has nice larches - did you visit the ancient settler's cabin by the lake (many people miss it). Next year, do visit Cutthroat lake as well, it's a nice short hike and the larches there are abundant and gorgeous.
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post #10 of (permalink) Old 10-21-2013, 06:41 PM Thread Starter
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Yeah, I did hear coyotes calling a couple times through the night: sounded like they were on the other side of the lake. It's a nice little spot in the fall, absolutely- you sure had a memorable stay there.

I'll have to get up that Harts Pass road in the summer sometime too. I think it would be a nice area to base camp and explore. Yep, quite the drop-offs...much nicer to view standing firmly on your feet when the car is parked, versus riding shotgun on those airy pullouts!

Yes, I did notice some cabin remains near Blue Lake and, for sure- I'd like to explore some other larch areas when I have more time. Cutthroat Lake to Cutthroat Pass looks nice. As does Maple Pass/Lake Ann, and more- so much to choose from!

And one day, further south at The Enchantments...
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