Thursday, July 30, 2009

An Unexpected Party

Sitting at painting work, contemplating the continuing heat wave and the forecasting possible temperature increase, nearly a week before our anticipated departure, I received a phone call from Moria Peters: she and Steve were coming to the Pacific Northwest and could spend a few days with us before we went to Banff. What a treat! As you can note from March 2008, we visited them at their home in Santa Fe, New Mexico, where the legend of Albuquerque Jim began. So we chilled as best we could, starting with faux tropical feast and cocktails Saturday (July 25). On Sunday, after a necessary stop in Shilshole at Marination Mobile, the Korean/Hawaiian taco truck in Seattle, we drove up the Skagit River to North Cascades National Park.

It was extremely warm, and we took the Cascade River Road toward the Chelan trailhead. We passed highway cone with a letter sized sign in Marblemount, ignoring it. However, we also noticed a number of US Forest Service trucks and other green vehicles coming down the mountains, and wondered whether a Sunday work party indicated urgency. Near the end of the road, but not as far as the trailhead, the gate was closed. Steve spoke with a hiker and we all quizzed her: the night before they had sustained a dramatic thunderstorm with buckets of rain. Well, the Cascade River Road washed out between our gate and the trailhead, stranding the vehicles of those weekend hikers. She said it was thrilling, but their vehicle was at this stop, and they were headed home, unlike those who awaited road repair. Having lived up in the park during the fall of 2006 (I blogged in Live Journal, odaraia), we experienced this during the fall storms, usually much more dramatic in eroding the mountains and hillsides, and culminating in a serious washout of highway 20 in November. Jim missed work then when he couldn't return to Seattle for a couple of days.

So we drove down the river road and east on highway 20 up to the Lake Ross overlook to view Mt. Hozemeen, always breathtaking to see Canada up the gorge. While there, we felt, heard and saw the drama of the mountain lightning storm. The bolts were coming out of the clouds and striking the peaks: we saw two strike Pyramid Peak and the first was followed by the telltale smoke of a forest fire.

By way of nostalgia, we went by Camp Tender, where I stayed in the park, and to see the vista from the visitor's center. The view of the Picket Range look familiar? Also, I've included Moria's clouds. The alpen glow and sunset reflections were deeply dramatic.

Yesterday, we left home around 7 pm, after record heat in Seattle above 103 degrees F (never in recorded history). Hard to pack and get organized in the heat, we moved so slowly that our drive in Sedro Woolley and north on highway 9 was in twilight/dark. However, we again viewed a lightning storm, this time more dramatic with quinacridone gold bursts of brilliant branches dispersed to the brewing clouds against the dark sky.
We arrived in Hope, BC, and are preparing for the next leg of our journey to Nelson, BC.
For information on North Cascades national park:

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