Tuesday, December 2, 2014

The Methow

sunset in Twisp, WA
It's winter in the Methow Valley (pronounced, Met-how, not Meth-ow). Valley residents seem to love the winter, often proclaiming, "it's not even cold yet!" I beg to differ as the low last night was 7 degrees with daytime temps maxing out in the high 20's.  If this isn't winter yet, I'm truly frightened at what awaits........

The Methow sits to the east of Seattle in the foothills of the Cascades Range.  The air is crisp and dry due to it's position at around 1,100 feet above sea level. The valley borders the Okanogan National Forest and the Pacific Crest Trail, making it a popular spot for outdoor recreation enthusiasts. Gear lists for the winter include: skis, snowshoes, snow mobiles, snowboards, fat bikes, ice skates, and fishing poles. With over 120 miles of groomed Nordic skiing trails, the Methow Valley attracts cross-country and down-hill skiers from all over the world.

Benson Creek Rd., Twisp WA
The largest towns in the Methow are Twisp, population 939, and Winthrop, 415, with only a few thousand people living in this entire valley. Fortunately, there are two local coffee roasting companies (hallelujah!) - Blue Star and Lariat Coffee Roasters. Between these two roasters, Twisp and Winthrop have more coffee roasters per capita than Seattle.  Both towns shut down early in the winter, so be sure to stop in for a hot cup of joe before 4:00 pm.

Local bars and breweries are a common meeting place, and offer refuge from the frigid night time temps.  I recommend the Old Schoolhouse Brewery in Winthrop, serving the acclaimed Ruud Awakening IPA - recently named one of the 20 best american IPA's by Hi Consumption. All Schoolhouse beers are brewed with chlorine-free water flowing directly from the North Cascade mountains, allowing for truer malt and hops flavors to be distinguished.  The Old Schoolhouse Brewery is open every day and stays open late, which around here is after 8:00 p.m.

Methow River, Winthrop, WA
So, what do locals do in the Methow after 8:00 pm if not out at the pub? I'm not sure, but based the extreme temperature change after the sun sets (around 4 o'clock), I think they are scurrying home to change into their smart wool, heat up some deer stew and sit near the fireplace.

Methow - your stunning vistas and views of the Cascades melting into the Twisp and Methow rivers are so fantastically beautiful, I understand why valley residents love living here.


  1. Katie, you are a born adventurer and a gifted writer. You've done a great job of

    describing some places I've never heard of -- and I'm guessing that few of your

    other fans have heard of.

    When you were in Italy, I know you worked at various jobs there. But now I'm

    wondering how you are financing this wonderful adventure.

    In any case, the only thing I find lacking, Katie, is a photo of you.

  2. Thank you so much for reading and sharing your thoughts! To answer your questions, I am staying with a friend who recently moved to the area. The trick to financing long trips has been to go places where I know people so that I can avoid hotel costs. There is also the added benefit of spending more time with the friend or family member I'm visiting.

    Lodging is usually the most expensive part of a trip. If I am going to place where I don't know anyone, I try to participate in a work/trade program, to again, spend less on lodging. It's not a particularly cushy, or in this case, warm way to travel, but it makes it easier to meet local people and learn about their communities.

    Good point on the photos! I will try to add some of myself here and there. I am usually the one behind the camera and so end up with very few pictures of myself. Selfie you say? We'll see. There are so many other beautiful people, places and things to capture, I am rarely inclined to put my face in the middle of the shot.

    Thanks again for being my #1 fan :) Looking forward to seeing you for the holidays!

  3. Well, I am more than ready to try a Ruud Awakening!

  4. Hey cuz! Was bummed to have missed your visit to the OC. Let me know if you can find this beer. I was at the brewery when I had it so it will be interesting to see if you can find it. Also......Grammy is going to let me borrow your book! I'll be reading it soon and asking for your advice on further readings on communications, writing and public speaking.

    p.s. I'm enjoying reading your blog! You mom shared with me recent post on kids coming to you saying they don't know what they want to do with their lives. Loved your commentary on this.