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Exploring Ancient Lakes



It has been the regular blustery fall weather around our house, and between the wind storms and working in a closed up building before sunrise to after sunset, I have been getting a touch of cabin fever. Every little thing seems to be an extra irritant, and the anxiety and stress from pandemic fatigue has been growing. For those not in Washington State, it is worth knowing that are state just went into another series of 'lock downs'. This means no indoor dining (not that we did a lot of that), no out of state travel, no gatherings, and gyms are to be closed. Our state has been going through various versions of these restrictions, with the hardest impact to myself being that I have no access to the gym, roller derby has been canceled, and for a short time trails were even closed. AHHHHHHHHH!!!!! I love the outdoors, and crave it. Thankfully, this current lockdown has not brought a closure to trails or travel to and from the trailheads, so last weekend I took off after work to head out and explore an area called 'Ancient Lakes' in central Washington.


Ancient Lakes was created a long time ago when the great 'Missoula Flood' and glaciers scoured out the edge of the Quincy plateau and created what around these areas is referred to as a Coulee. It is an area of basalt that has been carved out into a series of ponds and lakes that drop from one into the next. I took off just as the sun was beginning to lighten the sky. A few steps in, the sounds of gunfire popped off from the other side of the ridge. Most of the land is open for hunting, and I think folks were out looking for turkey, grouse, or perhaps pheasant. Still, it gets the heart pumping when you are out hiking and listening to the waterfalls, and BAP BAP BAP. At one point I did see two hunters about 3/4 of a mile off waiting for me to pass. I only noticed them because of their dog; their camouflage clothing kept them generally well hidden at first.


In the photo below I marked where I hiked with a red line. Traditionally people access the trails from the west and then hike East into the Coulee. I chose to access it from a farmers road and the Wildlife Department Access gate.

The first part of the hike was relatively easy, but as I descended from one lake to the next it required a few tricky crossings of waterfalls and loose basalt scree fields. I was rewarded though, with a beautiful secluded vista sitting in the dry autumn grass. When I checked the weather prediction before heading out it said that there would be a steady 7-10 mph wind from the east. Which given the topography would be perfect, it would be blowing up from the river across the flat of the lake and then hit the cliffs and roll upwards.


The wind was NON-EXISTANT!! Well, that isn't really correct, it was more like the little puffs of wind that there were, were 1 mph mouse farts from nearly every direction. The 'plains' were not just simple grass. They were a mix of shrub grass, tumbleweed, errant lava rock, and chunks of basalt. One small place I found had the least amount of kite grabbing brush and rocks, but it was studded with old wagon tracks mole hills, and rattlesnake holes. Nevertheless I tried to make the best of it with a Level One Badass Ultralight and 50 foot lines. The flying wasn't technically amazing, but it was heartfelt and simple. It was like the landscape; it was stark and bare.



I am not an amazing flier by any means, I leave the fancy tricks to the folks that have been doing this for years. Maybe at some point down the road I can share some tips or tricks on being a better flier, but for now, well for now I am just sharing how I am integrating kite flying into everything else I do. I love hiking and exploring, and I love doing that with a kite. There are more adventures to come, more trails to hike in, more places to try and fly, and if this is something you like reading I would love to know. Drop a comment, or send me a message.


Till then, here is a video of my hike. I hope you enjoy it.





Washington, USA

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