It has been a bit since a trip report appeared on the blog. The last route that I wrote about was a sunrise trip to Mt. Ellinor, then November and December passed as a blur. As my first quarter of grad school neared an end, I managed to make it outside for a few small hikes, some urban and a few in the mountains, but couldn’t steal a moment to edit the photos and post about it on the blog. I have no regrets, as prioritizing the school that I am paying many dollars to was the right move, but I did miss this space. So expect a flurry of trip report updates as winter break settles in!
Wenatchee Crest was the first snowshoe of the season! Between finals, holidays and weather, getting outside was nearly impossible. After Christmas festivities died down, however, a sunny day on the east side of the mountains emerged. I was desperate to see some snow and sunshine, so the fact that this was mostly a road walk, without a spectacular finish didn’t faze me. It turned out to be a near-perfect first snowshoe. Plenty of snow on the ground, simple navigation and low-avalanche risk, with plenty of delightful snow-covered trees and stunning views of the Teanaway region. If you are new to snowshoeing and want a place to explore that is less crowded than most of the spots on the Snoqualmie corridor, then this is an excellent option!
We reached an empty sno-park and slowly left the warmth of the car to pull on our boots. Despite the well-packed snow on the road, we opted to put on our snowshoes and begin the first snowshoe of the year. The road gradually climbed, surrounded by ponderosa pines before turning left on the junction to reach the ridge.
From there, views opened up of Tronson Ridge and Diamond Head. Sun pushed through the trees illuminating the branches. We slowly ambled along the flat road, pausing to marvel at the large and naked Western Larches lining the road. In an area that surely must look golden in the fall, was nothing but bright white snow in every direction.
Just off the packed road, fresh fluffy snow rolled over in delightful plumps, perfect for snowshoeing. We reached the end of the road, with viewpoints of the back the enchantments and Stuart range. The map indicated a high point just above us and we opted to take a side-trail.
A path wound a little more steeply up the hill, following footsteps that were at least a few days old. After a little bit, the boot path ended and we stopped for a little lunch. I could see that we were just below the high point and opted to break-trail to the top hoping for a new view at best and a little extra exercise at the worst. As it was the first snowshoe of the season breaking trail still seemed a fun concept rather than a miserable one.
Unfortunately the top of the little hill provided no view, besides that of branches. Consulting our map, I suggested wandering through the snow to meet the road below us rather than returning back the way we came. While this proved to be a valid choice after we quickly found the road, we discovered the road was both not used by snowshoers or cars anytime recently.
Completely overgrown, the snow scarcely covered the fallen trees and breaking trail became tedious in a whole new sort of way. Luckily we didn’t have too terribly long on the road before it joined the snowshoeing trail. After our little side adventure, the road seemed quite easy and we made it back to the trailhead shortly after.
History of Blewett Pass
Blewett Pass was named after the mining town of Blewett, established by the Blewett Gold Mining Company and Edward Blewett. The town of Blewett was abandoned by 1910 and demolished when the current Blewett Pass was constructed. Prior to its abandonment, the camp was considered one of the most disorderly and violent mining camps in the county, with more than 300 people residing in the town.
Prior to the discovery of gold in the region, the area was only accessible by trail and was converted to a wagon road in 1879. The first inhabitants of the Teanaway River Valley included the Pshwanwapam people, also known as Upper Yakama and the Wenatchi people. Pshwanwapam means stony ground in the Yakama dialect and Teanaway was a summering ground to gather food. The Pashwanwapam people were relocated to the reservations during the 1800’s after the Walla Walla Council and Yakima War of 1855.
Though the Yakama people signed a treaty allowing access to traditional hunting grounds without white settlement, the lack of legal authority in enforcing the treaty and discovery of gold in the region forced local tribes out of the area. Groups traditionally using the Teanaway were involuntarily resettled onto a reservation south of present city Yakima, and other reservations throughout the state.
The Wenatchi people were denied tribal recognition and never received the land granted by an 1855 treaty. The 1855 treaty provided a 36 mile reservation near present-day Leavenworth in addition to hunting, gathering and fishing rights, but was later sold to railroad prospectors. The Wenatchi tribe was distributed between the Colville and Yakima reservations. The tribe is currently petitioning for historical land rights.