By Sarah Schrock

We’ve made it to mid-July smoke free! So that’s reason to celebrate. The summer heat has finally arrived after a blustery cool June and now it’s time to head for the hills or water to escape it.

Patterson Lake is a perfectly refreshing temperature and the river is starting to be tolerable. The Carlton Hole packed a crowd last week as sunbathers, kids and dogs caused all kinds of ruckus on the beach when the temperatures got into the 90s. I recommend bringing a snorkel and mask. The underwater world of our rivers is a fascinating display of fish life. Even in the most populated areas like the Carlton and Twisp holes, you are apt to see schools of smolt, large adult trout and whitefish.

Of course, there’s the pool – the simplest way to safely cool off. On Wednesday (July 18), Friends of the Pool is hosting their annual “Free Swim Ice Cream Social” from 6:30-8:30 p.m. The pool will be open and free with ice cream and games. It’s a way to celebrate the generosity of the community who continually support this precious public asset. Saturday, the Killer Whales will host the Methow Invitational at the pool at 9 a.m.; this event is a regional swim meet and open to the public to come and watch. It’s pretty impressive how fast some of these kids can swim.

If you head to the hills to stay cool, the mountain wildflowers are starting to erupt into the spectacular bouquet that can only be found in the subalpine meadows. I spotted a new one unfamiliar to me this weekend on the trail to Kangaroo Pass above the hairpin on Highway 20. As the snow retreats, look for the marsh marigold (Caltha leptosepala) as it pushes up through the matted soil underneath the recently unearthed snow pack.

The unmarked trail to Kangaroo Pass is a popular ascent for climbers reaching the spires around Early Winters. The trail rambles through a number of debris slides as it climbs to the ridgeline above the hairpin turn. The trail hop-scotches through boulder fields and over gullies carrying the last of the season’s snows, passes through small meadows, and ribbons of subalpine fir, hemlock and fir, until it finally starts the steep climb alongside a waterfall that drains out of the small tarn at head of the canyon.

On the way up, the creek of one of the first meadows contains the remnants of a plane crash. The debris from plane crashes makes for some interesting poking around and an eerie reminder of the perils of mountain travel. The story of the crash is varied depending on who you talk to. The best explanation I can find was from a National Transportation Safety Board Aviation Accident Data Summary report on a Cessna 172 that took off from Omak in January 1983. The pilot apparently followed the highway but didn’t make the turn in the foggy weather and landed the plane into the snow-covered meadows. He escaped with minor injuries. The plane however, did not, and the remains make for an interesting detour to the peaks.


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