Camping Winthrop

Third weekend of camping in a row and a first for us. This is our normal club camping weekend and Friday night we headed east over highway 20, the North Cascades Highway. Washington Pass is the highest in the state at 5,400 feet. Because of heavy snowfall this pass is generally closed between November and April. The Pacific Crest Trail crosses this pass. The PCT goes from the border of Canada and the US in Washington State to the border of Mexico and the US in California. It was recently made popular by the book and film Wild.

We got word from a friend his bus had broken down. A local had come to help and they diagnosed a bad valve spring. Dug is one of our Geocaching buddies and conveniently stopped where there was a Geocache at a wildlife viewing area. A great place to camp and fix his bus the next morning. He sent B the geocode so we could find him. We dropped of his parts and a tool, did the quick cache then continued up the pass.

Our goal that night was Colonial Campground. We made it about ten. Jenni and Jane were already asleep in their busses. The parking was free so B picked a spot. We quickly made some sandwiches for dinner, did a little reading and then headed to bed.

The next morning we got up and continued up the pass to the Diablo lake lookout to have our breakfast. Diablo lake is a manmade reservoir created by Diablo dam and part of the Skagit River Hydroelectric Project.

Diablo Lake

We wandered around the expansive viewing area and read about the lake and the dam. There were not a lot of people there that early on a Saturday morning. Some loud kids in their early twenties who thought it would be a great idea to tie up a hammock over the edge of the viewing area.


We hauled out the camp stoves and made a breakfast of scrambled eggs, sausage and potatoes. Couldn’t think of a better breakfast view!

Buses at Diablo Lake

After breakfast we packed up and headed out to the top of Washington Pass. Our next destination was the lookout there.

Washington Pass Lookout

I took a selfie of B and I and Jenni popped in. I was laughing so hard I almost dropped my phone.


From here we took the paved path on a loop back to the parking area. On the way back B and I stopped for a cache. Can you spot it?

Found It

After the top of the pass it was only about an hour to Winthrop and the campground we were staying at just outside town. Pearrygin Lake State Park was our camping destination for the night. The property was purchased from an orchardist in 1959 and officially became a park in 1964. Property was added in 2004. We were originally not impressed with the lay of the land in the campground. One loop was closed and the one we were in was flat with hardly any trees. There were mostly RV’s and hunters. In fact, a few sites down two deer were hanging from a tree which made our vegetarian friend a little uncomfortable. The theme of the weekend quickly became “save a deer, have a beer”. We heard from Dug that he had just gone through Newhalem which was at the base of the mountain on highway 20 on the west side. We told him we were heading in to town and would meet up with him there.

We got our site set up and then headed in to Winthrop. The small town is on the shores of the Methow river. Originally Native Americans were the first inhabitants but when gold was found in 1868 it soon became a destination for white men wanting to make their fortune. The three first permanent white settlers were James Ramsey, Ben Pearrygin [the state park is named after him] and Guy Waring. Waring is considered the founding father and established himself at the “Castle” which is now the Shafer Museum. We didn’t have time to tour the museum when we were there but plan to go back as B has a high school teacher he still keeps in touch with that lives there. The town is names after Winthrop who graduated from Yale University. Waring’s Harvard roommate Owen Wister came to visit during his honeymoon. Owen wrote The Virginian, America’s first western novel and later a popular Western TV series in the 1960’s.

Winthrop is not a large town and they have established an Old West theme to bring in tourists [inspired by Leavenworth’s Bavarian theme]. In the summer they host a popular Rhythm and Blues festival.

Before we hit the town proper Jenni wanted to go to a swap meet she had seen a sign for. It was in a grange hall and she ended up finding some vintage magazines from the 1930’s. The main street of town offers lots of shops and places to eat from local fare to Indian food.

Winthrop Main Street

We chose to eat at the Old Schoolhouse Brewery. I tried their coffee porter and their imperial porter and had a really good roasted veggie quesadilla. Dug made it in time to join us for dinner and beer. Below Dug and B messing around. Jenni added her hand as a prop.

Photo Opp

Sheri’s sweet shop was our next stop although we changed the name to Chocolate Church. They have chocolate covered everything, from Twinkies to bacon to huge Macaroons.


I tried the Oreo bark as well but my absolute favorite is the salted caramels! To die for! We were all salivating. I didn’t believe Jenni when she said she usually spent about $20 every time she visits. Yeah I did too but even Beej got some dog treats.

Jane in Sheris

The main street is getting dressed for autumn. Lot’s of store fronts have pumpkins and corn stalks.

Sheri's Front

We had tried to find a cache in the center of town and decided to go back. There were some cute clues that led us to discover the clever hide. Muggle factor made this one a bit challenging. We found it and logged it and B placed it back with a guy standing about a foot away but he was paying attention to other things.

Clever Hide

We were ready to head back to the campground but Dug’s bus wouldn’t start. We all got in front of it and pushed it out of the parking space. Then we started pushing it down the main street. Success on the compression start!

Pushing a Bus

By the time we got back to camp I was ready for a nap. I took a snooze for about an hour and B, Jane & Jenni went for a walk. They discovered a prettier camping area of the park which if we had known we would have set up our site there.

After I woke from my nap and B got back we tried out our new inverter and some flamingo Christmas lights we had brought for that purpose.

Flamingo Lights

Beer and campfire soon made us all groggy and we all headed off to bed. Even though the area where we camped was not the most scenic, it was quiet as all of the hunters went to bed early to get up at the crack of dawn. Thankfully we slept through most of that.

After breakfast the next morning we packed up camp just in time for it to start raining. We headed off to find our first state park cache of the weekend in the upper, nicer more scenic Pearrygin Lake campground. It was actually really easy to spot from the road.

Birdhouse Cache

A birdhouse on the state park sign. We did go down to the boat launch to try our hand at another cache. There is a particular cacher in the area who has some pretty clever ones. B and I found his in Winthrop the previous day and this was did not disappointment as he also has the state park cache.


Twisp is about 8 miles away and our last stop before heading home. The town is also really small and we walked around a bit.

I am the Walrus

B and Dug “I am the Walrus”. We stopped for coffee and a pastry at the Cinnamon Twisp bakery. The women behind the counter was a complete hoot.

We briefly stopped back in Winthrop at the Emporium so I could pick up a print I saw the day before. I collect a certain style of artwork that can be described as vintage advertising poster art. I want to frame them and place them in my studio.

Winthrop Wa Poster Art

It goes with the one I got on our Oregon trip in September.

Timberline Lodge

I love this style of art and have had a few calendars with poster art from around the world in this style. Regrettably I did not get any when I was on the road trip in June. Fortunately, I can surf the net and find some for places I have been. I would love one for Savannah and probably Charlotte as I lived there years ago and drove through there on our road tip.

The trip back to the western side of the state was rainy and really foggy on Washington Pass. We made it to the top OK but we are buses, we are slow.

Dug and Jenni Fog

Dug and Jenni and just above them the fog.


B and I stopped again at the Diablo lake lookout for an Earth Cache and a selfie.

Selfie Diablo Lake

We continued on down the pass and did a couple more caches on the way. We stopped at Rockport State Park to grab the state park cache that had been reactivated. We had tried for this one a couple months before but it was missing. This time we drove in to the campground so we were a lot closer to the cache. The campground is closed as it is an old growth forest and some of the trees are coming down.

Old Growth and a Bus

We learned when we were there last time that even though the campground is closed you can still drive through and the park is open for day use.

Tree and Fern

Since we were in the area we drove through Rasar state park to show Jane the group camp sites. We ended our night at Skagit River Brewing in Mount Vernon. We were home just after nine, another record for us!


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