2017/1/7 – Monument Coulee V / 豐碑深谷之五

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Umatilla Rock Trailhead

Photos from this trip can be found here.

Feeling under the weather and wanting to avoid another weekend of high wind gusts in the mountains, pups and I paid another visit to my favorite coulee in Central Washington. Our fifth visit here and it felt more like winter compared with the other January trip in 2014.

The drive over Snoqualmie was pleasant and roads were bare and dry with no snowfall. After making a pit stop in vantage, we drove another hour and a half through beautiful, snow-covered terrain to Sun Lakes-Dryfalls State Park. The gate at west end of State Park Road was closed for the season, so the 1.5-mile road walk to trailhead was inevitable. Temperature reading at 2 degrees when we left the car, glad that it wasn’t extremely windy.

Last time we were here, pups and I hiked to Alkaline and Green Lakes at the head of east basin. This time we followed trail markers and circumnavigated Umatilla Rock clockwise. Along the way we passed through frozen Perch and Dryfalls Lakes in the west basin. Our first time seeing the lakes being frozen, too bad no ice skates around to celebrate the occasion.

Pups immediately got on the ice at Perch Lake without slightest hesitation. Me, on the other hand, was a bit skeptical of the solidity, stood and watched on the sideline. Afterward we continued on to Dryfalls Lake, where I figured the ice had got to be pretty solid since temperature was well below freezing, doh! So I followed pups onto the lake and tried hard not to slip. Hmm… Where were those microspikes when I needed them?!

Other than the mild wind, the occasional low roaring sounds of semi trucks above us on Highway 17, the area was quiet and still. A quick photo break at Dryfalls Lake, we then walked through the coulee divide into the east basin. From there we followed the trail markers back to trailhead, then the 1.5-mile road walk back to the car.

It started flurrying just as I started driving away, and by the time we drove into Ephrata roads were icy. Snow came down hard before getting back onto Interstate 90, the drive to Vantage Bridge was painstakingly slow due to extremely poor visibility. I checked the highway advisory message on the radio and realized I-90 eastbound had been closed from milepost 34 (North Bend) to milepost 94 since 3:30 in the afternoon due to multiple accidents, yikes.

Needless to say, the drive back through Snoqualmie Pass wasn’t nearly as pleasant as it was on the way over. Both hands on the wheel fo’ sho’.

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