Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Hiking & Camping on the Dry Side of Washington

Photo courtesy of @hiker_katherine

Caitlin mentioned to me in January that her hubs had the last weekend of February off and was interested in camping that weekend. I told her I didn't have any plans yet and to count me in! At that time location was dependent on weather, Caitlin was looking all over the state, from hitting up the coast to snow camping. As the weekend approached, weather was looking like rain and snow everywhere around Seattle, so she decided going east was best. There always seems to be sunshine east of the mountains! So east we went! 

Throughout the week, we ended up rounding up a group of 9 people to head east. 7 of us stayed and camped for the night, while 2 of our friends just drove out for the day to hike with us. (Smart thinking for just day hiking after what we went through haha)
Going over the pass
 Dates Hiked & Camped: February 24-25, 2018
Hike Location: Hanford Reach National Monument in Mattawa, WA
Miles Hiked: 5.7 miles
Elevation Gained: 500 ft
Campground CampedJackson Creek Camp in Mattawa, WA ($10/night)
Parking Pass Needed: Discovery Pass needed for trail
Note: Dogs allowed
Hanford Reach North
Saturday morning, we all agreed to leave Seattle around 8:00 AM and to meet in Ellensburg to regroup since we were taking 4 cars. Going through Snoqualmie Pass was kinda stressful, since road conditions of snow and ice were getting worse as the day went on. But we all made it over the pass safely. A quick stop in Ellensburg, we all then headed to Hanford Reach North Trailhead from there. (Directions came up on Google Maps when we typed in Hanford Reach North, but we also used the WTA directions for back up) It took us almost 4 hours to get to the trailhead. We started hiking a little after noon, and just followed the trail from the parking lot. Finding the sand dunes was not hard. You walk through some grass fields, follow along next to the river, and hit the 1st sand dune a mile or two in. From there, we went further and hit a 2nd giant sand dune. We explored the area, took lots of photos, Cody tried to butt scoot his way down a dune, and turned back after hitting the peak of the 2nd dune. The weather couldn't be more perfect! We had left Seattle in downpour, hit a small blizzard driving over the pass, but we ended up in sunshine and blue skies! The hike didn't take too long and I think we finished around 3:00PM. 

Photo courtesy of: @hiker_katherine
We parted ways with Katherine and her friend Liz, and headed to the campsite we were staying at for the night, Jackson Creek Camp. It was about 40 minutes from the trailhead, back toward Seattle though, so it was conveniently on the route home for Sunday. We pulled up to an empty campground, picked two sites right next to each other, and setup camp. From what we researched, this campground is pretty new. There's also no trees in the area, the campsite is on asphalt, and you set up your tent in this square they have outlined for you. One con about the campground is that there are no fire pits, only built in grills. We all questioned the fire pits before we got there since none of us saw any online, and we were correct in thinking there were none! Not sure if it was legal, but we ended up making a makeshift fire pit out of rocks on the gravel. The dinner we brought needed to be warmed up on the fire pit, none of us brought charcoal for the built in grill... 

We planned ahead for dinner and decided on making "taco bowls". I cooked the meat ahead of time, ground beef and turkey. While the others brought cooked beans and sweet potato, guac, chips, and other toppings to add to it. We made lil foil packets and warmed the meat and beans, then mixed everything together to eat. It turned out to be a great dinner and a super easy cleanup! After dinner, Catherine whipped out the dessert, dough boys! Best campfire dessert ever! (Consists of Crescent rolls, butter, and cinnamon sugar) It was a great evening of hanging out, telling stories, and just enjoying each others' company. We all headed to bed before 10:00PM.... and that's when things started going bad....

I want to say the wind started picking up right before midnight. I am the type of person who can pretty much sleep through anything, but this wind that night woke me up. I would fall in and out of sleep, but the wind howled all night long, shaking our tent, whipping it left and right, bending the poles. Every few hours, I would turn to Cody, and ask, "Are you awake?" there was no grogginess in his voice, the answer always came back in clearness "YES". Ok, so the wind wasn't only keeping me awake, it had Cody awake as well. I wondered how the other 2 tents were holding up. I looked at my phone a few times during the night but didn't see Caitlin's text till the morning. She had texted the group "Any of you awake?" around 1:00AM. Haha I think we all were. At 5:58AM Caitlin texted again, "I think we are going to go - we have zero wind protection and the wind is CRAZY (plus we aren't sleeping so why not...)" My tent and the other girls' tents responded immediately, "we are awake, let's all pack up". The wind was absolutely ridiculous. After checking the weather, we estimate it was gusts up to 40 mph. Our tents were taking a beating! We packed up as quickly as possible and made a game plan of meeting in Ellensburg again to grab brunch. 

WIND IS THE WORST. But we survived. Our tents, surprisingly, weren't goners, just a few lost stakes. We regrouped in Ellensburg before 8AM, grabbed breakfast at Palace Cafe and rehashed what had just happened. I mean, maybe we should've listened to the weather forecast more closely. But in the end, we were ok and laughing about it. 

Overall, we had an awesome weekend spent outside and with good friends. Always an adventure camping. 

Until next time Mattawa!


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