Day 12 of Lupe’s 2012 Dingo Vacation to the West Coast.
Lupe and SPHP went down to Howard Lake early in the morning before Lanis was up. The lake was calm and quiet. Even the fishermen weren’t up yet. Perfect! Lupe and SPHP took the single track trail heading S along the E shore.
Lupe saw ducks floating peacefully on the lake. She crossed a tiny inlet stream. Near the S end of the lake, the trail left the shoreline and went back into the cedar forest. A large crane was spooked by SPHP’s approach, and flew away with a great flapping of wings. Lupe found a few early-rising squirrels. SPHP did as much as possible to discourage her from barking at this early hour.
Looking back to the N, it was possible to see some of the higher mountains to the NW Lupe had seen the evening before on the mysterious Great Northern Mountain Trail No. 117. At the very S end of the lake, Lupe crossed another small inlet stream, shortly before reaching the broad cedar-lined trail on the W side of the lake.
By the time Lupe and SPHP had completed their circumnavigation of Howard Lake, Lanis was stirring. It was time to break camp, and continue W. Lupe was soon on her way. NW of Libby, a huge beautiful river, the Kootenai, flowed NW paralleling Hwy 2. Near Troy; Lanis, Lupe and SPHP turned S on Hwy 56 in order to go see the Ross Creek Scenic Area Giant Cedars.
The turn for the Giant Cedars off Hwy 56 was 0.5 mile S of Bull Lake. The side road ended at a trailhead 4 miles from the highway. Lupe, Lanis and SPHP all took the 1 mile loop trail through the towering forest. A small creek meandered through the area, and the trail crossed it several times. The ancient western red cedars had huge trunks. Ferns and moss grew between the monstrous trees. The forest felt prehistoric, like a dinosaur could come crashing along at any time. Lupe hadn’t been allowed to go on the Trail of the Cedars in Glacier National Park, but the Ross Creek Scenic Area Giant Cedars had to be just as impressive.
Lupe’s travels continued. Hwy 200 took her W into Idaho for the 1st time. Idaho became the 4th Lupe state! Soon huge Lake Pend Oreille was in view SW of the highway. At the N end of Pend Oreille, 3 bears ran across the road, right in broad daylight. They were gone in a flash. At Sandpoint, Lupe got back on Hwy 2 again. Washington became the 5th Lupe state. The American Dingo’s empire was expanding rapidly!
Hwy 2 took Lupe through Spokane, and then out onto barren plains in eastern Washington state. The area is probably quite pretty at other times of the year, but in late August it felt like a desert. It had been 95°F back in Sandpoint, ID, and it wasn’t any less out here. The sun beat down mercilessly.
The Element was air conditioned, of course. Lupe rode in comfort past yellow wheat fields, and many black fields that had burned or been plowed under. Dust devils whirled across the desolate landscape. Far to the N, mountains were on the horizon. To the S, there was nothing.
SPHP had bought a fried chicken at Safeway in Spokane. The plan had been to eat it at a city park in one of the little towns along the way. However, there didn’t seem to be any parks. Lupe passed through Deep Creek, Reardon and Davenport, and found nothing. On the way to Creston, there was a forlorn rest area with a couple of picnic tables. Lupe, Lanis and SPHP devoured the chicken there, but there wasn’t a green blade of grass anywhere. The place was like an oven.
Of course, at Creston there was a pretty nice little park, but with the chicken already gone, there was no longer a reason to stop. Lupe continued W. Past Coulee City, Lanis turned SW on Hwy 17. Soon Lupe came to a most amazing sight – Dry Falls. Lanis and SPHP had never even heard of Dry Falls before, but there was a parking area and a little visitor center right next to Hwy 17. Lupe, Lanis and SPHP stopped to take in the scene.
On the opposite side of a chain link fence were sheer 400 foot cliffs down to a broad canyon below. As the name implies, there is no giant waterfall at Dry Falls now, but the huge canyon downstream is thought to have been carved by recurring flooding on a cataclysmic scale at the end of the last ice age. A volume of water 10 times that of all the rivers now in the world combined plunged over a precipice 5 times as wide as Niagara Falls.
Hwy 17 eventually sloped down into the canyon several miles downstream of Dry Falls, and went past a series of lakes. At Sun Lakes State Park, lots of people were actively boating, swimming and camping. Of all the lakes, Lenore Lake was the largest. Hwy 17 went for miles along its E shore.
The entire canyon below Dry Falls was close to 20 miles long. Along the way, the canyon walls slowly became less impressive, gradually fading away completely before reaching Soap Lake.
From Soap Lake; Lupe, Lanis and SPHP took Hwy 283 SW to I-90. Pretty soon, Lupe came to another river gorge, that of the mighty Columbia River.
The light started slowly fading as Lupe, Lanis and SPHP rolled on W of the Columbia River. Suddenly it didn’t feel like it was too much farther to Puget Sound and Seattle. Off to the N of I-90, an impressive mountain came into view in the distance. SPHP figured it was probably Mt. Stuart.
The bright searing heat of eastern Washington state was gone. Clouds hung over the Wenatchee mountains ahead. It was much cooler and foggy as Lupe went over 3,022 ft. Snoqualmie Pass. Darkness fell. Near Lake Sammamish State Park; Lupe, Lanis and SPHP stopped for the night. Lupe was almost to Seattle. Tomorrow, Lupe would see the ocean!