Life in the Methow
I’ve been working remotely from home ever since Covid started. Finally, I decided to take advantage of this and work for a week in the Methow Valley. Steve and I rented a room in Mazama. After an eventful weekend running Harts to Rainy Pass and then Courtney Peak, we planned for some chill evening adventures in this outdoor mecca.
During my preparation for this week, Tiffany Mountain caught my eye. At over 8000 ft, it has impressive prominence over the valleys, but there is a road from Winthrop up to 6500 ft, making it an easy evening walk. The view westward towards a sunset over the Cascades would be prime.
Steve, Bug, and I met up with Haylee, a friend we both know, and drove the long dirt road up to Tiffany. Haylee spent all summer cutting logs in the Pasayten Wilderness and is a true aficionado of “The Big P”, as she calls it.
After an initial burned zone with some blowdowns (guess Haylee’s crew didn’t get out here this year) we entered the signature open tundra hillsides of the Pasayten. Technically, this isn’t the Pasayten Wilderness, but the scale and character of the landscape certainly feels like it.
We reached the summit far too quickly, as there was still an hour until sunset and the cold wind was chilling us to our bones. Naturally, Steve, who frequently is complaining about the heat, did not bring any insulation and started complaining about being cold.
Steve decided to head down lower, where it was less windy, to watch the sunset. Haylee and I found a break from the wind on the shady north face and jogged around, admiring the scenery. The entire Methow Valley separated us from the bulk of the North Cascades. From this distance, the peaks blended into a mass of ridges and valleys, a jagged landscape not so far away.
The region around Tiffany is an intricate landscape of tundra plateaus, rolling forests and meadows, and gentle valleys. The topography takes on the shapes of Eastern Highlands rather than the glacial carved valleys of the Cascades. One could take a gravel bike out here and explore for days, likely never seeing another person. This is Okanagan Country: big sky, vast, and beautiful.
Along the ridge of Tiffany, we took turns photographing each other with the high Pasayten giants behind. The racing clouds in the distance gave an ethereal feel to the moment and softened the fading light.
Finally, we had waited long enough and the sun set behind the North Cascades.
We raced down to join Steve and Bug and then we all jogged back to the cars, finishing just before headlamp time. It was really a wonderful experience to leave work at a regular time and be able to tag an 8000 ft. peak surrounded by larches, valleys, and mountains for as far as the eye can see. I guess that’s life in the Methow. It’s pretty nice, if you ask me.