Friday, September 19, 2014

Lake Roosevelt and Summers End

Leaving Early Winter Campground brought home to me the impending end of our Washington summer trip.

My thoughts moved to the fire that was raged in Central Washington while we traveled.

Wildfire is a fact of life that those of us who live in the West live with every year.  For weeks we had followed the progress of a huge wildfire in Washington State that grew in epic proportion and burned burned about 400 square miles — more than four times the size of Seattle — making it the largest wildfire in the state since record-keeping started.
 And it lay in our path near the end of our journey.

History of this Fire: The Carlton Complex fires started on July 14, by lightning from a weather system that moved through the Methow Valley. The Carlton Complex started as four fires: the Stokes Fire, the Gold Hikes Fire, the French Creek Fire and the Cougar Flat fire. These fires grew into one larger fire on July 20.

Nearly 75% of the land burned by the fire was a scrub mix that allowed the fire to exploded and travel great distances quickly and 25% were forested land.

Hot weather and windy conditions pushed the fire over the ridge tops and into the town of Pateros resulting in a large number of evacuations. The fire made significant runs towards the cities of Brewster and Pateros between July 17th and 18th, consuming approximately 300 homes in its path and destroying critical infrastructure.

Significant rain helped firefighters to contain the fire but also caused some slides within the burned and scared area. Highway 20 and 153 were closed and required detours where roads were washed away or slides covered the highways. We were impacted by these road closures and followed detours that allowed us to view part of the areas that had burned.  We could smell the lingering oder of fire in the air.

Can you imagine how frightening this scene was as fire raced over the hillside threatening all that you had worked for near these orchards?  What a valiant stand the firefighters made on this hill!

The costs of this fire is estimated to be in excess of $60 million dollars.
How much more personnel than just money, it is to families who lost everything.  

As we traveled, this day I had no idea where we would be camping for our last camp before settling  into home for the school year. With the road closures we are not sure where the detours will take us.  I wanted to end our adventure in a quiet setting with a lake nearby with swimming and a time to regroup and  a gentle transition into our winter mode.

  We turned toward Lake Roosevelt and hoped to find a camping spot along the river.

Just past Grand Coulee Dam is Spring Canyon Campground, a National Recreation Campground. We were there on a holiday weekend but found that we could move to a second spot and stay the entire weekend.   With the Senior Pass we were able to camp for $4 per night.   Our campsite sat high on a hill overlooking Lake Roosevelt.   

The wide open spaces were welcome and solar was plentiful.  The simplistic and stark landscape was a beautiful metamorphosis from the mountains and tree canape we have been living under.  It lent to a sudden feeling of freedom and a sense that I could fully breathe.

A quick trip into town allowed Hailey to attend an open house at the High School she will be attending in her Freshman year.  A little grocery shopping and school supplies and a friend of hers will join us for the remainder of the weekend.

Sagebrush abounds as do snakes during this time of year.  The Rangers and Camp hosts have been on snake patrol removing snakes from around the campground area.

This is not a good time of year for walking in the brush so we won't be doing much hiking here.  But the huge beautiful beach and shady picnic area will give us plenty of things to do. 

  But the huge beautiful beach and shady picnic area will gave us plenty of things to do. 

Where one or more teens gather, others will come.

  A trip into Grand Coulee for the evening laser light show started with a trip to the local ice cream parlor. Pricy but a yummy way to wait for it to get dark near the Visitor Center


 The Visitor Center is open until the Laser Show starts.  There are several informational shows and displays the document the building of the dam and the impact on the surrounding area.  Be sure to pick up a listing of show times so that you are able to see the shows that interest you.

One River, Many Voices, the Laser Light Show is held nightly at Grand Coulee Dam starting the Saturday of Memorial Day Weekend through September 30. The show lasts about 30 minutes and is free of charge.

This narrated story, combines colorful lasers that move across the entire span of the dam, creating magnificent moving images that virtually dance across the spillway telling the story of the Missoula Floods that carved the canyon, the native people who lived there and the building of the dam.

After five days at Spring Canyon, our time for our great Washington summer Adventure came to a close.

Life is about to  change and we will be adjusting to new realities. It is now time to adjust once more to a stationary life for a time. I am so grateful for the time this summer with my Granddaughter free from the stress of everyday life.  It has been full of wonderful memories for both of us.

~Happy Trails~


  1. What a lovely end to your summer.
    Great sunset shots!
    Oh, have you ever camped at Steamboat on Banks Lake?
    It's a beautiful campground, too and only about 15 miles from where you where.
    Sweet cupcakes :)

  2. Wildfires are so sad. I'm glad you found such a great place for your lash hurrah! I was wondering when Hailey would have to go back to school. Nearly all the kids I know went back just before or after labor day. She's had a really long summer holiday.

  3. So nice to see how you ended up the holiday. What great memories you made for Hailey at such an impressionable age. I know your self-reliance, courage, independence, and tenacity on the road will be great life lessons for her. It was fun to get to share a small slice of this summer with the two of you!


  4. And what an adventure it was. So many new things were found and so many new things done. You and Hailey saw and climbed some awesome places. I know you will enjoy more adventures and I can't wait to follow those too.

    Seeing the burned landscape is so sad. I remember seeing it up in northern AZ. to many times.

  5. What a wonderful trip! Those forest fires are so scarey, and they leave the landscape so ugly. The only good thing is when they aren't started by an arsonist. Lightening strikes are at least nature's way of working things out. I guess.

    I'm so happy your summer was was spent doing some traveling, and what memories Hailey will have. You're a super grandmother! :)

  6. The fires were particularly bad this year--the firefighters did amazing work! We love the Grand Coulee area & appreciate your info about Spring Canyon CG. We've typically stayed at Steamboat Rock SP but it's so expensive. We last stayed there in September & took a hike up a canyon--we saw many snakes. Have a wonderful school year!