In the Beginning, We Drove Past

Sunday August 26, 2012, day two of an overnight trip to the Methow Valley staying at the Freestone Inn (we stayed at the inn portion, sans Test dog.)

After breakfast at Wesola Polana, we decided to take a back road from Mazama to Winthrop through Edelweiss along National Forest road 101 to Gunn Ranch road.  From my previous snooping (okay stalking) of land in the Methow Valley, I knew there was at least one lot for sale in this area, and I remember there also being a house for sale.  The drive has some breathtaking views of the Methow Valley and mountains to the west, and I highly recommend it (warning: it’s bumpy.)  Also: lots of chip mucks!  In the winter most of this road is a cross country ski trail.

We found the lot that was for sale, a very nice piece of 20 acres with grand views to the south and west of the Methow Valley, and some views to the east.  Here is a flyer and part of the view

The main issue I had with this land (not to be a negative ninnie), however, was that it wasn’t clear where the best building site would be, and also, unfortunately there is a quite substantial home just down the main view of the valley.  This was the home that was for sale.  Also, while the view was very nice, the acreage itself didn’t have much of interest, being almost uniform steppe brush, with only a few trees.  Me picky?  Never!  A pretty spectacular property, but not one that clicked for us.

So we drove on, past the home for sale, and into Winthrop.  Eventually we meandered to Twisp, and took Maxwell to the dead animal zoo (the local grocery store in Twisp has an amazing big game taxidermy collection) to pick up some snacks for lunch.  Then, on the spur of the moment, we decided to drop in to a realtor (Windermere) to inquire more about buying land in the valley.  The agent sat me down while Maxwell recked havoc in the office, and we went over some property for sale.  I ended up with three good leads: one south of Twisp off of Doe Haven road, one up high on Studhorse mountain on the north side, and a final property, it turns out the Gunn Ranch house that was for sale was also selling a 20+ acre parcel that adjoins the main house’s 20 acres.

So off we went to visit these properties.  The Doe Haven property had a spectacular view of a rock wall, and very nice views north up the valley.  It also had an already installed well.  Bonus!  But it definitely wasn’t clear what the best building site would be that maximized all the views of the property.  Most of the 20 acres in the property was unbuildable and the buildable section would be competing with another cabin in the area (the 20 acre number arises because property off the valley floor is zoned to be at least 20 acres.)

Next stop near the top of Studhorse mountain.  The views from Studhorse mountain were pretty amazing as well, there seemed to be a good building site sheltered in a bit of a cove, that had views to the north, east, and west.  A season creek added some appeal.  Interestingly, however, this property didn’t click with us, perhaps because the view included a nice view up the Chewuch valley, which is lightly, but still noticeably filled with homes.

So back to the final property on our list, back up Gunn Ranch road, to see the land adjacent to the home for sale.  This time we stopped at the home and grabbed a flyer from the realtors box.  Indeed there was a parcel for sale in addition to the home, the 20 acres to the south of the home.  I got out of the car, hopped the barbed wire fence, and went to check it out.  The thing that struck me immediately were the grasshoppers.  Seriously, tons of grasshoppers.  Okay, the grasshoppers just hit me on the leg, but the view, isolation, and terrain really made me catch my breath.

Ostensibly the view was very similar to the other property we had look at on Gunn Ranch road, just up the road.  But there were some differences that seemed to make a bunch of difference.  First, because it was more westernly facing, it had views further to the north, including a peak at Mt. Gardiner.  Second, there was a very amazing grove of trees that ran through the middle of the upper house property and into the middle of the lot for sale.  This grove also contained a seasonal creek.  As you walk down to the section of the property just below this grove of trees, what you find also is that the land seems amazingly wet due to this territorial creek.  So wet that there were reeds and an amazing mixture of grasses.  Finally, one of the notable things about this land in contrast to the lot up the road, was that it sits in such a way that there is a small hill blocking the town of Winthrop off from the view and giving the feeling that you are really far away from town, even though the town is just down the road.  Even better, the home in the adjoining 20 acres was, luckily, completely hidden from what seemed to be the best building site.

In short, we immediately realized that this as an amazing chunk of land.  Here are some photos.

View of the property from the road.  If you imagine a line drawn from left to right in front of you, if you push this line out so that it hits that dip in the trees and over to the post on the left, the property lies just beyond (south) of that line.


A picture Lisa took from a similar location

And here is a panorama that an architect (more on that later) took from what seems like a prime building spot

This later picture really shows a good idea of why this property feels very special.  The view is amazing to say the least, but also if you’ll notice that there really aren’t a lot of other houses in the view.  One reason for that is that it turns out that most of the land to the south, east, and north is actually Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife land.

And thus it began.  The first time we drove by.  The second time we stopped to get out and take a look.  And what we found is now the beginning of a great new adventure.