WOLF CANYON RANCH AND O TRILOGY

 

Wolf Canyon Ranch is a real place and was a real ranch. I say was, since it was sold to the Washington State Department of Wildlife and since been consumed by fire. In the book trilogy, the O trilogy; Off the Edge, Over the Line, Out of Time, Wolf Canyon Ranch (WCR) is the home and ranch of Jim Johnson and Heather Asplund. Before the three books were written, for twenty years starting in 1980, it was home to the books author, RS Perry.

It is a beautiful area. On the east side of the Cascade Mountains of Washington State. Three mountain passes will get you to the Methow Valley, allegedly, properly pronounced Met-How. Some people, however, including the author could never become accustomed to the hard “H” and indignantly leave it silent. The settled part of the Methow Valley is not large itself. A few homes follow the Twisp River as it enters the valley from near the Canada border and eventually joins the Columbia River.

It is a special place for a lot of reasons. It is drier than west of the mountains. The north sides of the hills and mountains have ponderosa pine while the south sides support, at least at  the lower elevations, sagebrush. In the spring the hills are awash with wildflowers ranging from yellow balsam root to ultramarine blue lupins. Wolf Canyon Ranch has one of the largest groves of Aspen trees that turn mellow yellow in the fall. For hikers it is mostly government land and wilderness. And that is what makes it so special. Beautiful, with mountains in all directions. Hiking trails in the Cascades, hiking trails leading into the Pasayten Wilderness. The valley is both soft and gentle and sometimes unforgiving and harsh.

Even driving to the Methow Valley is spectacular. The North Cascade Highway, which opened in the fall of 1972 is one of the most dramatic and beautiful drives anywhere in the United States. The highway threads itself through snow peaked mountains and meadows and eventually flows through Winthrop and Twisp. The highway then climbs out of the valley passing close to WCR as crests a small group of mountains to the east. At the top is the local ski area called the Loup Loup. All of these places have the place in the O book trilogy.

WCR is nestled up a canyon, eight miles  from the ranching town of Twisp and nearly as close to the western town of Winthrop.  It feels impossibly remote and wild with no human sounds, other than an occasional plane. Deer, black bears and coyotes are an everyday occurrence. Eagles drift on the current up and down the canyon sometimes in the dozens. The ranch is an anomaly being so close to civilization yet feeling so remote. Not everyone would define Twisp as civilized but it has everything most people need, from gasoline, groceries, a coffee and donut cafe and more recently a brew pub. Of course if you have horses, cattle or llamas then you need the Twisp Feed Store. Through the years it has changed from a ranchers town to one blended with those from the Pacific side of the mountains, sometimes fondly and sometimes not fondly referred to as coasties. There is now even a small playhouse and art gallery.

 

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