Pretzels, sauerkraut, and beer, oh my! Thirty minutes away from our campsite near Wenatachee State Forest, was the kitchy town of Leavenworth, Washington. Driving into Leavenworth is like being transported into Bavaria, Germany. The entire downtown area was transformed into a Bavarian theme in the 1960's in order to bring tourism to the area, whose economy was declining. The efforts paid off and the little town is now packed with tourists year round. The food and restaurants are an obvious draw, but the towns park, river, and trail system is an added bonus and a nice way to spend an evening.
The nearby Wenatchee Forest offered us miles and miles of water to explore, and mountains to climb. One of the first hikes we did was Poe Mountain. From the summit, there are 360 degree views of Mount Stuart, Rainer, Glacier and the Cascades. The trail was not well maintained, and many sections were eroding down the side of the mountain. With Britt's clumsiness, its a miracle she got back in one piece.
High up in the Wenatchee Forest, hides the Enchantments. The Enchantments are a series of alpine lake basins surrounded by the Stuart mountain range. In order to explore most of the Enchantments, you have to apply for a permit to overnight camp. Having not done so in advance, we took a a day hike up to Colchuck Lake, right under Aasgards Pass instead. The pass leads you up into the Core Enchantment lakes and to curious mountain goats. Our hike started kind of late (around 12), and we met a lot of other hikers coming down from their weekend up in the lakes. Everyone was so full of stoke, and we are determined to get up there.
Leavenworth attracted us for several reasons, one of which included Stevens Pass. During the winter, it hosts skiers, and during the summer, mountain bikers. Nick was hoping his little BMX bike would be ok to cruise around on, but learned he would need to rent one with front breaks and some cushy suspension. During the rental process, they suited Nick up with all sorts of protective pads and we laughed at the seriousness of it all. Then we rode the "beginner" hill. This was Brittany's first downhill experience on her newish mountain bike and she got to break it in nicely. One of the easiest hills was described as having a "meadow view that was sure to have you cruising with a smile". It sounded harmless. The hill was actually pretty steep with sharp berms requiring tight turns- something Britt was still working on. She gave it her best shot and over she went- into a pile of rocks. We quickly realized the need for all the pads and protective gear. Nick, having ridden bikes his whole life, was more successful and had a blast charging down the hills. We were able to find some gentler hills for Britt in the Wenatchee Forest area and she is currently working on her turns and braking.
While we indulged in our fair share of baverian delicacies, Nick was most excited to visit one of the largest nutcracker museums in the United States. Most people don't know this about Nick, but he has been collecting Nutcrackers since he was a wee lad. The museum was quite expansive and included many pieces dated back to prehistoric times. Nick had a wonderful time talking shop with the retired ladies operating the museum and we can now check "Largest Nutcracker Museum" off our bucket list.
On to Seattle!