One thing I like about living in Washington State is its diverse geography. Here on the west side of the Cascade Mountains you can easily see why Washington is called the Evergreen State with its thick stands of Douglas fir, mossy temperate rainforest and plenty of rainfall. But head east and cross that dividing mountain range and you are in a sunny land of gold and brown, of orchards and ranches, and wide open spaces besides.
This week we made the trek to the other side over Stevens Pass, headed east for Wenatchee. We follow along the Skykomish River and take in the views of dramatic Mt. Index.
Further up the road we stop by Deception Falls and are awed by the powerful water crashing down and inches below us under the footbridge where we’re standing.
We cross over a dry Stevens Pass (elev. 4,061 ft) where skiing is done for the season but snow patches still remain. On the other side we find the Wenatchee River flowing heavy, deep, and wide with snowmelt .
After lunch in Leavenworth we arrive in Wenatchee and find another mighty river flowing.
Roll on Columbia!
The terrain changes from the dark green of the Cascades to the brown and gold and rust of the foothills flanking the Columbia River to the east.
The Columbia is the largest and most important river in the Pacific Northwest and when measured by discharge into the Pacific Ocean, the largest in North America. It starts north from British Columbia, flows down through Washington State and forms the border with Oregon on its way to the Pacific.
We take in Ohme Gardens in Wenatchee, which stands in stark contrast to the dry surrounding hills. The land was originally purchased by Herman Ohme in 1929 for an orchard and included this dry and craggy bluff. Herman and his wife Ruth, decided to turn the land into their own paradise complete with evergreen trees, rock gardens, pools and stone features. After many years in the family, Washington State Parks purchased Ohme Gardens in 1991.
We tour the gardens stopping to admire the flowers and pools and to rest on stone benches.
It’s hard to imagine the amount of labor needed to turn this desert bluff into a lush alpine garden, but it was a labor of love for the Ohmes; transplanting evergreens, hauling native stone and replacing desert sage with alpine flowers and ground covers.
After a full day of travel and exploration we stop for the night. The next day we visit downtown Wenatchee and take a walk along the Columbia,
finding interesting sculptures like this one called PED.
After a bit of shopping we’re ready to head back to the west side, this time over Blewett Pass, where golden hills and farms and orchards and ranches eventually give way once again to the Cascade mountains and home.