Duffy Creek

I'm finally getting over my sprained knee and ready for an easy hike. Saturday is forecast to be 90 in Seattle and warmer almost everywhere else. Avalanche danger is very high in the mountains. What's a person to do? Janet was interested in a flower hike to Duffy Creek which is southeast of Wenatchee. Only supposed to be in the mid 90s there. I'm a first class heat wuss but nowhere was going to be cool and it sounded like a fun trip. I signed on. The day before I pinched something in my shoulder so I was even gimpier than before. I still could not sit in a 95 degree house all day.

I met Janet in Monroe at 7:00. I was out the door at 6:15. On our drive east we saw just how high the river were. Lots of snow in the mountains and 90 degree heat equals flooding. The Skykomish was high and wild. By Deception Falls water was flying onto the highway. The best show was in Tumwater Canyon. The Wenatchee River was higher than I have seen it. We stopped by the old pipeline bridge across the river. I had seen it from the highway but had not bee on it. It was really a pipeline. The top of the pipe was cut off and the bottom is the walkway. From the middle of the river we could see how wild and angry it was churning.

We continued on to Wenatchee then across the Columbia to East Wenatchee on Highway 28. We headed south to Rock Island. We were looking for a road called the Rock Island Grade. We came to the Rock Island Road and turned left. This soon proved to be a wrong turn. Farther south we came to another Rock Island Road. This time we kept going and just before the Rock Island Dam we came to a left turn lane well signed as the Rock Island Grade.

From the highway it is about 15 1/2 miles to where we started. The road quickly turns to dirt and then begins to climb. I logged in 1500' of gain in three miles. It's plenty steep. The road tops out on a broad plateau. Fences line most of the route. They have no trespassing signs intermixed with blue bird houses. We saw lots of birds. Smaller ones and raptors too. The snowy peaks of the Cascades came into view. This area is mostly high desert and farmland. Sage on one side then bright green fields.

We began to see flowers. Lots of yellow, balsamroot and others. Janet stopped and we headed over to the edge of the plateau. Here we were delighted to find lots of blooming bitterroot. It's a favorite of both of us. In fact, this proved to be the only bitterroot we saw the whole day. A fortuitous choice for a photo stop. The Desert Hikes book shows the distance to the trailhead from the Quincy side. We were hoping to be able to find it from the west side.

We passed what looked to be a hiker entrance through the barbed wire and then descended to a small creek bed. On the other side we came to a sign for the Duffy Recreation Area. It was no surprise to see no other cars there. The gate states that vehicles can only drive on roads signed with green dots so vehicles are allowed beyond the gate. We were there to hike and chose to walk. The parking spot was a riot of wildflowers. Most were at or near their peak. Lots of yellow, white, and blue.

The road is pretty flat. We hiked along with many stops to admire and photograph the flowers. Below us to our right was Duffy Creek. It was obvious as it was full of green growth and a number of tall pine trees. Away from the creek nothing grew higher than balsamroot and sagebrush. We continued on to a split in the road. There was an old piece of farm equipment there. It was made by McCormick-Deering. An online check shows that name went away nearly 60 years ago. Levers on the machine were made of wood. It was a fun relic to have come upon.

We went right at the split and descended a short way to Duffy Creek. Down at the creek we came upon an old homestead. An airstream type trailer is there but a cement and a wood foundation are all that's left of the buildings. We did find two old truck frames.  We were especially careful along the creek looking for rattlesnakes. I have no doubt they were there but we did not see any.

There is a gated bridge with a 5 ton limit sign. It is so short and narrow I can't imagine any heavy vehicles fitting on it. From the homestead we followed a vague trail up the creek bed. Duffy Creek is no big creek. This area was under snow six weeks ago and already the creek is just a trickle. Up on the bluff there was a steady cool breeze making the high temperature almost pleasant. down by the creek it was much hotter. We stopped under several big pine trees to savor the shade.

There were many of the same and a number of different flowers by the creek. Janet found a burned out shooting start and I noticed a whole lot of old man's whiskers. Farther along the brush began to get thicker. We were concerned with ticks and chose to leave the creek and make a short climb back up to the bluff. We were met by a little breeze which was very welcome.

We crossed a field of many small flowers and reached the road we had walked in on completing our loop. From there it was an easy walk back to the car. Our loop turned out to be different than the one in Desert Hikes. That one starts on the other side of Duffy Creek. I liked our route as we had a profusion of flowers right from the car. This was a very short hike with a very long drive but was well worth it to me. I have been hiking on snow for many months now and a dirt hike with flowers and zero other people was a treat.

Thanks to Janet for coming up with this idea and for driving. It's always fun to do a hike I have never been on. This weekend I was to do two of them. The drive home was uneventful and Highway 2 had no slowdowns. Maybe people did not want to head east with the heat. I'm glad we did.

Pipeline Bridge
Wild Wenatchee River
Close Up Bitterroot
Side View
Blooming & Not Yet
Paintbrush Like
Interesting Pattern
Bugs & Bee
Final Bitterroot
Blue Flower
Ground Cover
Low Growing Color
Bright Yellow
Sage & Balsamroot
Peaking Balsamroot
Lots Of Color
More Balsamroot
Find Me
Snow & Sage
Green & Yellow
Old Farm Machine
Leaning Fence
More Blue
Wide Open Country
Okay, One More
Go Speed Racer!
Duffy Creek Bridge
Very Hot Along Creek
Old Man's Whiskers
Closer Whiskers
Very White
Death Camas
Last Color
Click on thumbnails to get larger pictures.

Trips - 2008