On the trip over Snoqualmie Pass toward Eastern Washington you begin to see the changing of the landscape. The greens begin to quiet. In fact, all the colors seem to grow silent with a sort of golden hue. What speaks loudly, however, is the contrasting texture of the desert geology.
Our destination was Dusty Lake near Quincy- a 6-8 mile round trip backpack through what is known as “Washington’s Miniature Grand Canyon” due to its similar geology. The meandering through fragrant sage brush and kicking up dust trails, all while being surrounded by crumbling canyons made for a peaceful journey toward a shimmering jewel, Dusty Lake.
Upon arriving we pitched our tents while the desert wind whipped around us. When it wouldn’t let up we congregated inside and listened to the owls whooing from the canyon walls and the occasional rewarding grumble of a rockslide. It cooled down quite a bit that night, but the promise of hot cowboy coffee in the morning and the lullabies of croaking frogs kept us dreaming on.
You could easily day hike this beautiful place, but sleeping in the desert is worth experiencing as well. Be sure to stop in town to support the local community and to load up on water because the water at Dusty Lake is not recommended for drinking. Bring sun protection, watch for snakes and ticks, and be prepared to feel like you are walking into an old western painting. You might even have the tune from The Good, The Bad and the Ugly stuck in your head.
Ancient Lakes Rd Quincy, Wa 98848
*Also see The Ancient Lakes