Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Wild Horse Wind and Solar Facility and Whiskey Dick Mountain

I woke up this morning and decided that today was a "get out of town day." It was a ridiculously poorly planned last minute decision and with a late start (which turned out to work in my favor because we froze last night and I needed to go over Snoqualmie Pass), but around 10am we hit the road for Wild Horse Wind and Solar Facility in Vantage, WA.

A couple of months ago I had filled out the online permit information, got a book on desert hikes for the area, and had started to actually plan a full day of exploring. The week I was going to go the area was experiencing thunder and lightning storms (when you see the photos you will see why I wouldn't be there for that), then it got into the hot of summer, then it was wildfire season, then...

Which bring us to today, November 20th, about a week before the facility closes for the winter. I was desperate for a little adventure and it seemed like a good idea.

Generally it was a good idea and I am so glad for the steady sun or we probably would have immediately left. It was icy, icy cold. My camera often didn't want to work it was so cold. My water froze in my pack. Nim's spit froze to the side of his mouth.

But we did the best we could considering how unprepared I was.

Eventually I figured out the "trail" to Whiskey Dick Mountain which actually was on my list to hike when I was actually planning this area a few months back. In this area there really aren't much in the way of trails. You are sometimes hopping old roads and sometimes just doing your own thing.

Suffice to say, the worst part of Whiskey Dick is not the hike itself, it is the wind. And based on the winds they are reported to get, I would say we got lucky. The Ridgeline Solar Trail (which is the route we took) even has a warning in the description of "at your own risk" and winds of 116 mph having been clocked there.

Basically the wind as it was just burned my ears and my cheeks and I suspect it wasn't particularly fun for Nim. It wasn't until I got home and looked at the GPS (because I wasn't going to take the time to consult it while I was up there) that I confirmed we actually reached the top.

What I am more excited about is that there was another peak in the distance that I now know is called Chinamans Hat Mountain. I will try for that one on another day.

After we reached the "summit" I made executive decision that we were going straight down the mountain to the main road rather than take the "trail" and then the road back. They were spraying something on a large section of the road that I really didn't want to walk by again anyway.

I think Nim had mixed feelings about this but down we went.

I hardly touched a fraction of this area. It was confusing to me at times where I could and could not actually walk. But even doing what we did, we walked a solid 3+ hours and didn't come close to seeing all the territory.

I loaded us up in the car with all these ambitious ideas of hiking another area on the Pass and visiting this new state park, but as my thighs and face started to prickle from the car heat I knew I wasn't getting out of the car again until I got home.

Nim is so funny. He did some thinking as we drove the rest of the main road and headed home (maybe his ears were prickling). I caught him watching the turbines quite a bit from the car.

By the time we were back on Vantage Highway he was sound asleep.


  1. Maybe Nim's eyes were frozen open! LOL!!! How cold was it...It was so cold that "Nim's spit froze to the side of his mouth". Now that is cold. Glad you were able to get out for a nice long hike even if it was a bit cold.


    1. Ha! I know, poor guy. I don't know how cold it was but with the wind chill I am kind of wondering about the upper 20s? It was cold. It was nice for us to get away and do something different.

  2. 116mph, that's crazy! Looks like you two had a beautiful day, besides the cold! I had to laugh a few times in your descriptions, I must admit. I'm sure you enjoyed it!

    1. It was wonderful to just get away. We had a good time, lack of planning and icy cold aside.