We had aspirations of at least one decently long hike while in Winthrop, but someone (uhhh….me) rubbed blisters onto her heals our first hike out in the North Cascades. I had a rest day on Monday as we made our way slowly to Winthrop, but on Tuesday knew I could not tolerate a lot of distance. Thus, Patterson Mountain.
Patterson Mountain sits a short distance from Winthrop on the road to Sun Mountain Lodge. It’s a short two miles up, two miles down. The gain is steady, but not ass-kicking. And it’s a loop. My favorite kind of hike.
We parked in a lot on the shores of Patterson Lake around 8:30. It was a beautiful autumn morning. There was a chill in the air, the sun was shining and the lake a still and perfect reflector.
Patterson Mountain rises only to around 3500 feet, but the views from the top are impressive. We made our way there in relatively short order, puffing a bit as we climbed. And wincing. Well, that was me. Because where do your heels hit when hiking up-hill? Riiiiight. I checked the blister status at the top and quietly cursed when I discovered that I had rubbed the skin of the top of them. Girl just couldn’t catch a break.
We occasionally paused on the way up to appreciate the ever-more-impressive views. As we climbed more of the valley came into view. I don’t know all that we were looking at, but I know it included parts of both the North Cascade and Sawtooth ranges.
We stopped at the top to drink it all in. It was breathtaking.
After a short hike back to the car we headed on up the road to check out Sun Mountain resort. It was very quiet on a Tuesday morning in September. We agreed it was a nice place, but we preferred our cabin down in the valley.
We returned to the cabin for lunch, then hopped back in the car to visit the metropolis of Twisp. For some reason, the husband had it in his head that Twisp was going to have more to offer than Winthrop. He was disappointed. The coolest part of Twisp was Lucid Glassworks, a blown glass studio owned by Samantha Carlin. She creates these really cool dot tumblers (a few of which are now in my possession. P.S. not my photo, I grabbed this from her website):
Since Twisp didn’t require much time to visit, we took the long way back to Winthrop. Meaning that the husband drove and I randomly told him to “turn here!” “turn there!” as I stared at GoogleMaps. Good times. There are a lot of gravel roads in the Methow Valley. A lot.
As we approached Winthrop the husband suggested, given the relatively early hour, that we stop to check out the one winery in the area. While Chelan has a winery every few hundred feet, in Winthrop there is only Lost River Winery. Were we skeptical? Yes. Often if there is only one winery in town the enthusiasm of the tasting room person far exceeds the quality of the product. We were pleasantly surprised, for a couple of reasons.
First, there was no tasting fee. You heard me. When’s the last time you went to a winery that had no tasting fees? Actually, let me reword that: when’s the last time you went to a winery with no tasting fees and the pours were larger than the size of a thimble? I’m actually thinking that she free-poured, but I can’t say that for certain. We visited a lot of wineries on that trip.
Second, the wine was good. Tasty-good. Buy a few bottles good. Consider their wine club good. The biggest surprise of the menu? Their Chardonnay. We are not Chardonnay people. Nope. Not at all. Just can’t get our lips around it. We bought a bottle from Lost River. Odd, but true.
After tasting all they had to offer we returned to the cabin and ditched the car, walking into town to visit School House Brewery and another glass blowing shop, Glassworks of Winthrop. At Glassworks we placed a custom order for two gorgeous wine glasses, to be picked up a couple of days later, then wandered down the street to the brewery.
Winthrop is designed in the style of an old western town. The facades of buildings are wooden and weathered. The “sidewalks” made of creaky wooden planks. It is an old town, founded originally in the 1880’s. But, the old western feel didn’t come along until 1972 when Hwy 20 over the North Cascades was nearing completion. Several business owners in Winthrop started talking about how they could make the most of opportunities offered by travelers passing through town and the idea of a western restoration was landed upon. Thus, present day Winthrop.
The beer at School House? Not memorable, though I did get to taste another of Lost River’s wines that had not been on their tasting menu, which resulted in a return-trip the next day to buy a bottle. However, School House Brewery has a gorgeous back patio that sits right on the Methow River. It was 4 pm on a sunny September afternoon. The sunlight dappled through the trees above us. We laughed, we flirted, we reveled in vacation. Those days.