I know that I have already complained a lot on here about our crappy western Washington weather...but "June gloom" month has been true to form--so brace yourself for some more whining. I think everyone has been gearing up for an awesome summer because May was better than usual. (which was still not great, by the way) That's why I think this June has been particularly depressing, because normally we have low expectations. Why do we do this to ourselves; don't we know by now not to expect any sun until after the 4th of July? It's just so hard not to get your hopes up, because after so much rain everyone is SO ready for it to feel like summer.
This is why last Thursday, when I saw the forecast of gray clouds and rain for yet another weekend, I decided I was out of here. If summer was not going to come to me, I was going to go to it. So on Friday I packed up the car and headed to Leavenworth for an impromptu camping trip of one night.
Leavenworth is one of the first towns you come to when heading for the 'other' Washington. (the hot Washington...everyone who lives here knows what I'm talking about) It's about a three hour drive from where I live, which is a little far to drive for just one day. (though I have done it on other occasions when facing the same kind of sun deprivation)
|Beautiful wildflowers on the hike|
There are seven campgrounds along Icicle Creek Road, none of which you can make a reservation for. But this trip was all about spontaneity and living in the moment--I was not going to let the fact I couldn't guarantee a campsite stop me. Only, it wasn't just me that was going to be crushed if this throw it together camping trip was a fail...I had both my daughters and two of their friends along for the adventure as well.
So, when we got to the first campground at 8 miles in and it was completely packed, I'll confess I started to get a little worried. I got a little more worried when the next one was full, and by the time we reached the 5th one with a "no campsites available" sign up, I was pretty desperate. (I thought this was our last chance--I didn't know about the other two campgrounds...more about that later)
I don't have to explain that a 3 hour drive (more like 4 when you count the drive up Icicle Creek) with a packed car that included two preteens who make up songs about pooping (not kidding) is a heluva long drive. The thought of driving all the way back down that road (much of it unpaved) to who knows where to find a place to spend the night...well, it just wasn't an option. On the second drive around the full campground, I spotted a site that was very large with one little tent on it. Years ago we had let someone in this same predicament share our campsite (at Wallace Falls--another beautiful hike, btw) so I figured I had some good karma coming my way. My 11 year old daughter just about had a heart attack when I stopped to ask (does anything I do not embarrass her?) but THANK GOD I did, because they had no problem with it. In fact, they decided they didn't even really need the site because they were with a large group and could easily fit that little tent in with their friends--so we got it all to ourselves. And it was gorgeous...honestly, I think it was the prettiest campsite I've ever had.
|Chatter Creek went right through out campsite|
When we were all set up, I took a walk around and ended up back at the road. I spotted a lovely bridge crossing Icicle Creek. (some creek, right?)
|The mother of all creeks!|
I figured I stumbled upon a different hike. (I never saw the Icicle Gorge trail head sign on the way up, and thought we'd look for it the next day) When I came back and asked the kids, everyone was up for a nice little hike before making dinner, so off we went. Before even crossing the bridge, look what I found:
|One of several access points to the trail...the main one is just up the road|
So, we get to the end of this hike and find ourselves at a campground. Huh? It's not our campground (though, it's packed as well)...so I figured we must have looped around and back down to the previous campground. But, I know my navigational abilities can't be trusted, so I found a ranger. I'm not even going to try to recreate our conversation...let's just say he couldn't quite wrap his head around how I could be lost. He pointed us back down the road--another 2 miles. Ugh. This didn't seem right...why would we be going down the road? (remember, I didn't know there were more campgrounds past ours...this was campground #6...campground 7 is a horse camp, if anyone is curious. I bet it was full too) But thankfully, I didn't need to learn hiking lesson # 16 the hard way (trust the rangers--they know more than you) because after much debating we all decided to just do what he said--even though everything in me wanted to go up the road instead.
So, albeit unconventionally done, I finally have Icicle Gorge Loop under my belt. Plus, I got my first real weekend of summer sun, when everyone back at home just got a bunch more rain. I'm not positive if spontaneity is actually the essence of pleasure, but I'm sure glad it worked out this time.