Bob SpiwakBy Bob Spiwak

Well, the gummint shutdown has had its effect on motorists traveling to and from the Methow who feel the call of nature. One would not imagine that our congressional clods in the House of Representatives have enough sway to close the bathrooms along the length of Highway 20 – at least where North Cascades National Park and U.S. Forest Service toilets are involved.

Thus it was with a friend who planned to make a pit stop at the Gorge Dam car park only to find it ribboned off like a crime scene. Likewise, all the Forest Service campgrounds were similarly attired, augmented with sandwich board barriers.

Of course there were government employees who were required to stretch the tape, plus the cost of the tape itself, and they did not work for nothing. But in its convoluted wisdom, even though they were laid off, Congress deemed that these workers will get back pay for those days.

The crime tape belongs around the House of Representatives.

Closer to home, on Oct. 18 the Fall Potluck will be held at the Mazama Community Club at 6 p.m. As usual, bring your favorite edibles and drinkables and add to these your brainpower.

Midge Cross, club president, says there will be a discussion of the by- laws to bring them up to date with IRS definitions. Another topic will be consideration of what to do with the late Red McComb’s bequest to the club. A third topic is discussion of efforts to move the telephone company’s building from the corner where it has been for many years.

We drove up to Washington Pass a few days ago to take some pictures of the aspens against the backdrop of snow on the mountains. It was sadly disappointing, even granting that the trees usually peak in color about mid-month. The leaves seemed drab on the hillsides. Worse yet was the stretch of a mile or more of aspens on the west side of the road below Lone Fir campground. Ordinarily a haze of color, these were devoid of any leaves at all.

Such is the case with the aspen grove across from the Foster home on Goat Creek Road. This bunch of trees has always produced a dense stand of color, not only the usual gold and yellow, but accented by pink and red foliage. Not this year. There may be an aspen blight alight.

Betsy Devin Smith and son Casey had planned a hike from Thirtymile to Harts Pass and set out on this five-day venture last week. They left their truck at Slate Peak, then were driven to Thirtymile by Skip Smith. They spent the first night near Tungsten Mine.

Just a skiff of snow fell. It kept falling above 4,500 feet and by the end of their hike they were post-holing in snow up to their knees. Skip was to meet them at Harts Pass, and they were late, and he got concerned when he saw their truck was buried in snow.

Skip got connected with Tom Graves and they took Tom’s plow truck up the hill, but it got stuck at the Buckskin Gulch trail on the Slate Peak Road.  Skip had left his own rig nine miles down from Harts Pass. A trio of Skip, Tom and Josh Johnson headed back on foot to get the truck. Josh, being younger and in good shape, says Betsy, made it before the older fellows, and drove the truck up the hill to intercept them. They rendezvoused with mother and son near Meadows campground. Later, they recruited Darold Brandenburg to bring a backhoe up to dig out the stranded trucks.

Despite the snow, Betsy said there were people headed up to Slate Peak to hike the Pacific Crest Trail. She tried to discourage some, who became incensed at her suggestion – they were going to do it, snow or not.

The hike was good, she noted, but “it was quite the ordeal.”