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Trip Report    

Backpack - Ancient & Dusty Lakes and Wanderlust

Someone once said when it comes to adventures outdoors, Washington State has it all. What better place to dust off your backpack, explore geological history, wander and stargaze before a full moonrise. This report is about the many benefits of not taking the direct path.

  • Road suitable for all vehicles
  • Starting out under a blanket of clouds in Western Washington, we motor over the pass where the skies begins to part. Our anticipation of sun and an overnight backpack trip of stargazing and exploring the Ancient Lakes of Quincy just above The Gorge Amphitheatre greatly improved with the weather.

    I am now sixty-five but when I was a young twenty year old, I used to head to the area often in the spring and was astonished when I first hand observed the contrast between the west and east side of Washington State. Exploring our geological history in the rain shadow of the Cascades was as captivating and extraordinary to me as a young adult as it is today.

    GEOLOGICAL HISTORY: Much of the deep valleys which exist from here and north through Ephrata, Dry Falls, and Banks Lake are known as coulees. They formed during the Ice Age floods and exist today. These coulees are lessor known as a part of the Ice Age Floods National Geological Trail of Washington State. They support wildlife habitat for birds, fish and reptiles and a living history of the past. As humans we enjoy camping next to the potholes and hiking along the columnar basalt ridges that remain as we take in the view of this natural monument of time.


    ANCIENT AND DUSTY LAKES: Ancient and Dusty Lakes are some of the many pothole lakes formed here. The dotting of them on the landscape provides interested shapes on the horizon, a maze of trails and sweeping views. At night the a wide angle of opportunity presents the sky, opening the view to stargaze. 



GENERAL INFORMATION: When hiking in the Quincy Lakes area of Ancient Lakes, it is required you carry all your water with you. The camp areas are dispersed primitive camping sites. Most often you can find a decent spot for quite a large group to spread out. 

PARKING: Parking was easy after a short travel down a dusty farm road. There were two clean portable bathrooms.

PARKING PASS: You must have a Discover Pass displayed on your vehicle.


HIKING IN: We hiked approximately 2 miles and found our perfect spot to set up camp, a great first backpack of the year and just enough to make me realize how much physical ability I'd lost over the winter months. 


SIDE TRIP: After a short break we decided to explore our way up to Dusty Lake and wander the trails. A few marmots living in the rocks waited to greet us then our conversation became too much for them and they scurried off.


DINNER: Our afternoon moved into evening where our backcountry camp and stove use skills also were necessarily brushed up on. It reminded me how lucky I was belonging to a community of people that helped each other be both safe and successful with no judgement in the wilderness.


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EVENING FUN & STARGAZING: As night fell our dinner conversations turned to storytelling using Campfire Stories Deck and the word game Taboo. We also shared planets we viewed and constellations we could see using the the Star Guide app. This is a fantastic spot for astrophotography as well.

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MORE ON STARGAZING: Stargazing reminds me to never stop wandering even if you have a plan. Depending on the time of year we gaze upward, allows us a view of the stars that is forever migrating and changing with the seasons. In contrast, much of how we spend our time hiking and planning for the outdoors has a lockstep feel we usually adhere to. The stars remind me we should always leave space and time in the journey to explore the unknown path. The German word is "wanderlust".

HIKING OUT: As we brush the dust off our shoes, we are thankful for the new friendships we have made and the opportunity to be outdoors so early in the backpacking season. I even checked off one of my goals of seeing a rattlesnake on the trail ahead of me, a young one.

Screen Shot 2023-05-09 at 3.05.08 AM.pngLIFE PATHS: Back in the car heading home, the spirit of wanderlust takes over once again. I've always said the next best thing I like about hiking and backpacking is talking about hiking and backpacking so our conversations begin to formulate around a story recently viewed on the wildflowers in Wenatchee.

That quick we next find ourselves on another unknown trail in the Sage Hills just above the city.

Once again we park, stretch our legs, find our lunch, and head out.





As the approaching precipitation pulls in flanking the hill next to us we reassess our timing with Mother Nature. Thunderstorms are a deal breaker for all of us and after a photoshoot and frolic with the foliage, we high tail our way down Sage Hill Trail to the safety of our car. 

My friend reminds me this "riot" of flowers is just another great reminder on the benefits of not taking the most direct path in life.

And with that I simply reply, just another great reason I like to go with friends when they remind you not to always stick to the plan.