Grand Coulee Dam & Northrup Canyon (Feb 6-7, 2009)

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northrup_cyn_coverConditions: city walk
Area: Seattle
Stats: 2.45mi, 106' gain (round trip)

Subie-Losers road trip to Grand Coulee and Northrup Cyn...

The Subi-Losers hatched this half baked plan to head east this past weekend. What a bunch of losers. Between all three of us we have two Subies, one in the shop and one making funny noises, two jobs, 4 good knees, and an odd number of eyeglass lenses.

I lured Quark into the trip by a promise of cheap gas and a trip to Central WA. Quark then ensnared JimK into our half baked plan. At noon on Friday Q and JimK met me at work and we grouped into one car. Then it was time to start the drive east. Up and over Snoqualmie Pass, through Cle Elem and Ellensburg. Up into Ephrata and Soap Lake (OMG how Quark goes on about Soap Lake). The entire drive was eerily free of snow and we were congratulating ourselves on choosing to car camp...until the last 2/10 of a mile into the few open campsites at Steamboat Rock Campground.

Just as the sun started to set we pitched out tents, in the snow, and began the routine of jumping jacks trying to stay warm. Quark begged us before we left to eat out at La Presa in Grand Coulee (I think...not sure of the location). I don't know about JimK but I was elated at the thought of warming up inside any building with heat. Q had the usual Chicken Mole and both she and JimK polished off their plates while I polished off two margharitas.

I gave Q the keys so we'd get back to the campground safe and sound. We awoke Saturday morning to the sounds of singing blackbirds and numb feet (at least mine were) from the overnight temps. The thought of making breakfast in 20 degree temps was frightening and it wasn't hard to talk the rest of the group into heading into Coulee City for a wonderful WARM breakfast at Flo's (the new Flo's...we never did find out what became of the old Flo's).

Off we went to Grand Coulee (the dam) for a day of roaming. We stopped at the pullouts. All the hillsides were covered in a thin blanket of fresh snow.

Then it was off to the Visitor Center for a chat with the two nice gents staffing the place. Then we went off to the Original Bridge and the Plaque Walk along both sides of the bridge which was pretty cool. After a tour of the dam area we headed off to Northrup Canyon. Wow. That's a Never been there before and it would be awefully nice to check it out more. We chatted with two locals, one being a very dam fine gentleman who used to work at the dam, about the goings on about the dam AND the eagle fest in the canyon that starts in about a week. Seems that the canyon is very well known for the wintering of bald eagles. Apparently hundreds of the birds show up this time of year. Of course, we didn't see one while in the canyon. We did walk though to the old homestead that is about 2 miles in. The oldest buildings are pretty neat. The family donated the land to the state which then created the state park. There are lots of signs at the TH advising hikers that there is NO CAMPING allowed in the canyon.

Moving a bit slow, I tried making a steady pace back to the car. JimK and Q were a bit behind but constantly getting closer. By the time we got back to the car I was relieved when they both suggested heading back to the CG and packing up and heading back west. The plan was to head back in the morning anyway so the thought of a night free of frozen feet was pretty appealing. Just as we exited Northrup Canyon...we saw the angel of death (aka death fog). It came spilling over and down the coulee walls. Wow that was cool. Lots of shutterbugging on that.

I've never been to Central WA in winter. It was awesome. The snow and frozed seeps along the coulee walls was pretty spectacular.

Thanks JimK and Q for putting up with me this weekend.

BTW, if anyone finds the progressive lens from the left side of my eyeglasses (lost between Steamboat Rock CG and Redmond, WA) please let me know...
Grand Coulee Dam & Northrup Canyon Slideshow

(click on map to view a larger version)

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