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Chelan Wildlife Area
posted by John : December 28, 2008

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Chelan Butte

The plan had always included a family snowshoe with all the kids. However, with all those other things getting in the way (you know, Christmas and stuff) it was hard to find the time. After Nana and Papa headed home Sunday afternoon, we packed up everyone and headed just a few miles south on the highway to the Chelan Wildlife Area.

In the Fall I climbed Chelan Butte from the north side and wasn't terribly impressed. It was dry and bland.

Amazing what a foot or two of snow will do. The treeless hills were covered in a soft white that shone under the weak sun. Deer tracks crisscrossed the slopes and bunny tracks were scattered around, too.

I stumbled on the area when looking (desperately, perhaps) for somewhere to take the kids that would be easy enough for them and satisfying for me. (Yeah, I'm a little selfish. Big surprise.) Luckily, I had the right permit in the car (one of five) and the permit even covered Martin and Nicole's car. Woo hoo!

The road had been plowed (yet more adulation for the plow team in Chelan!) and we found the parking spot with easy. The abandoned road we were looking for was right where it was supposed to be and we sent Martin ahead with the three girls while Amy, Nicole, and I rigged up the Incredible Pulk and got Henry into his pack. Being little girls the advance party didn't make a ton of progress and we caught up with them quickly.

As we climbed we could look to the north across the road we'd come in on and see the creases and folds of Chelan Butte. Even from a distance the animal tracks were easy to see and we were treated to a spot of blue breaking through the high clouds.

On the slopes above us, in the one slightly treed area, we spied a deer munching on whatever it is that deer munch on in the snow. It was unconcerned by our presence and went on munching as we continued up the easy route.

Ahead, Martin was silhouetted by the sky with his arms raised in triumph. Either he'd won the lottery or we were near the top. (Bummer for him, it was just the top.) Cresting the ridge we could look over the hills to the south all the way down to the Columbia way below us.

Martin claims that when he got to the crest he saw a big group of deer bound away. Pictures? Video? No? Seems might suspicious to me...

We puttered around on the ridge top for a while and let the girls have lunch. The rest of us had mostly frozen molasses cookies (my favorite) and pondered continuing on. In the end we decided to save running the ridge for later and turned for home. Amy loaded Clara and Molly in the noop Sled and hauled them down the way we had come up. I took a moment and tested the new snow brake I had installed on the Incredible Pulk and when I found it worked perfectly I also headed down.

We saw three actual deer munching away and ignoring us as we passed below them. Lilly wanted to go faster so I tried jogging a bit, but my big snowshoes didn't go well with the concept of anything faster than a brisk walk and Henry was happier when I had a smoother gait anyway.

At the cars just about everyone plopped down into the deep snow to make snow angels. It turns out, though, that the deep snow was perhaps just a tad too deep so the kids (and Martin) nearly disappeared into the white fluff. The road back toward town was a little sloppier than when we came up, but nothing Amy couldn't handle with her newfound winter driving skillz.

Total distance was less than a mile and gain was about 175 feet. The views, though, were worth far more effort.

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