Wallula Gap and Twin Sisters

An Extra Day in Eastern Washington

Wallula Gap as seen from near Twin Sisters

Wallula Gap as seen from near Twin Sisters

Due to bad weather on my intended route back to Utah I recently found myself staying an extra day at home in eastern Washington. I used the extra time to check out three nearby natural attractions: the McNary National Wildlife Refuge, the Twin Sisters / Wallula Gap, and the Skyline Trail on Badger Mountain. It was great to get out in nature and reconnect with my homeland a bit. This post is basically a photo dump plus a few thoughts on the experience.

The Twin Sisters rock formation in Walla Walla County, overlooking the Columbia River.

The Twin Sisters rock formation in Walla Walla County, overlooking the Columbia River.

Though to most people it likely seems drab and austere, to my eyes eastern Washington is incredibly beautiful. This is the land of my nativity and I think I’ll always be in love with it. There’s a sort of poetry, a sort of romance to the place. Something about the hue of the sunsets, the cadence of the wind, and the seemingly endless sky, perhaps.

Sun setting in Badger Canyon, as seen from Badger Mountain

Sun setting in Badger Canyon, as seen from Badger Mountain. Not a great photographic composition, but a nice simulation of what it’s like to have the sun in your eyes from that low angle!

McNary NWR was surely the least photogenic of the places I visited, mostly due to my not being equipped with a telephoto lens to properly photograph the far-off waterfoul. This picture is the best candidate for “drab” in the bunch, though I think even it has its charm with the decaying road and the twisted slough in the background:

Part of the Burbank Slough at McNary National Wildlife Refuge

Part of the Burbank Slough at McNary National Wildlife Refuge

At McNary there is a bird blind, and inside the blind there were three birders. It was fun just to listen to them talk since they knew their subject well. One of them passed me her binoculars, and I simply sat and watched the mallards and some sort of geese bobbing, diving, taking off, landing on the water, while the wind whipped against cattails and buffeted the window panes.

Looking up the slopes of Badger Mountain

Looking up the slopes of Badger Mountain

At Badger Mountain I ran half of the time as daylight was short. I went up the loop trail on the south side which gave me views of the sunset over Badger Canyon below. After summiting I descended the north face and the winds were icy and fierce, making it hard to breathe and turning my face numb. It felt like a fight for survival (though I’m sure in reality it was not.) By the time I arrived back at my truck parked down below I was simultaneously half-frozen and drenched in sweat, yet I felt deeply satisfied at coming out victorious in my battle with the elements.

If you’d like to support the further conservation and trail development efforts for Badger Mountain and its neighbors, go ahead and donate to Friends of Badger.

2 thoughts on “An Extra Day in Eastern Washington

  1. Nate

    Nice photos, Josh- you’ve reminded me of some of the things I love about the Tri-Cities. Have you ever hiked Badger at night? Christina and I did last September and the lights from the city were AMAZING!

    Reply
    1. Josh Hansen Post author

      Thanks, Nate! No, I haven’t hiked it at night—I bet that would be awesome! I’ll have to give it a try next time I get a chance. Good hearing from you!

      Reply

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