Talking to an old friend brought my attention to the area East of Route 97. Having never been up that way, it piqued my interest. My buddy K and I headed out a bit later than planned on a Sunday but once we got the gear loaded up we were on our way. Heading East from the Seattle area over the I-90 pass is a slow climb seeming to last for many miles, passing by the first few dirt road exits, like Denny Creek and Tinkam Road.
Keechelus lake seems to have received a bit of rainfall this Spring as it’s fuller than it’s been for quite some time; it conveys a much larger presence than it usually does of sharp glints of sunshine off the waves.
Once over the pass and heading downhill at a good pace is when one starts to notice that the wind has begun to kick up. The Xterra does an excellent imitation of a sail as the wind gusts the vehicle, side to side. The East side of the Cascade Mountains is famously windy. Hence, the immense propellers of the wind turbines. Pictures of those come later.
Taking 970 to 97 North for a few miles until 97 begins a Easterly jog, finally leaving the highway South on NF-9711. Off this well maintained dirt road were several interesting two tracks to be explored in the future. We made our way to some higher elevations and stumbled upon what must be a teenage party spot; lots of unfortunate spray paint on these huge mushroom shaped rocks and cliffs that overlooked the valley below.
This area east of 97 had a wildfire within the last few years as evidenced by the blackened tree trunks along both sides of the dirt roads. Surprisingly, many of the burned trees had survived last year’s burn.
Video of NF-213, above highway 97 by several hundred feet.
After we finally made our way back down to 97 we meandered our way south to I-90. This area of Washington has significant wind gusts that can move the vehicle unexpectedly from one side of the lane to the other. Capitalizing on the ever present wind is a numerous gathering of wind turbines. Having only seen these from afar, it has been an objective to see one of these as close as it was possible to get. We tried to make our way up several promising dirt tracks to get closer but each ended up being gated and shut, land owned privately for hunting or for utility access only. Finally, we stumbled upon an old farming road that led us towards the base of several. These things are just so much bigger than you imagine them to be. When its quiet, the props make a low, barely audible “whooooosh” as they spin.