Schmitztech Horse Shoe Basin

This weekend Lia and I traveled as far as we could, and we managed to find the only place in Washington with mountains and without rain! Horseshoe Basin lies in the Pasayten Wilderness, not far from the town of Loomis and the Canadian Border in Okanagan County. Past Loomis the road degenerates into unmaintained, pot-hole ridden asphault and then we turned right toward the Iron Gate Trail onto a dirt road spotten with large rocks. Every few minutes we had to scare cows away so we could keep moving forward. I prayed that when we came back there would not be any cows sleeping on the road.

At the end of the road, however, we were surprised to see a rather developed parking lot. It was even equipped with outhouses and a trash can! The trail to horseshoe basin maintained an easy grade the whole way, although it actually starts sloping downwards for about a mile. Moreover, it slopes through a dead and desolate burnt forest. We asked some people maintaining the trails and they said the fire had hit the previous year. Nature has barely made any recovery since then.

We continued all the way to Ladin lake (unmarked in the basin, but it was the only lake I saw other than Smith Lake) which is at the foot of Armstrong Peak and Rocky Mountain. Our map listed a trail climbing Armstrong Peak to the Canadian border, but as far as we could tell no such trail existed. We set out toward what we thought was Armstrong Peak, but we never found a monument. Later I learned that this was Arnold Peak, and we had passed Armstrong Peak by on the way!

Fortunately Armstrong Peak was my second guess, and we easily found the Canadian border. I was amazed to see the line, the International Border Committee maintains a 6 meter line between Canada and the United States!