A Night at Dusty Lake

I’m not sure who was more surprised as we pulled past the group of field hands taking a coffee break, them or us

return to vantage

Earlier in the season, Theresa and I headed back to central Washington to continue exploring this arid area. It’s just so different from what we’re used to in our lush evergreen forest of western Washington. And to shake things up we took our RAD Power Bikes, a tent, and a couple of sleeping bags to spend one night at Dusty Lake.

We snagged a site for the long weekend in Wanapum State Park. This campground is located on the western shore of the Columbia River. It’s such a popular place, that it can be hard to secure a reservation, so planning well in advance is recommended. We were also lucky in that our long-time friend and exploring companion Brad was able to join us.

Here's our campsite. Because we came in on bikes, we were able to bring in a small firepit and wood for an evening fire alongside the lake.


We arrived a day early and spent the time checking out the area around the campground. Checking for nearby trails we found the Beverly Railroad Bridge which spans the Columbia River and is an enjoyable short hike over into Beverly. It’s a part of the much longer Palouse to Cascades Trail. The geology to the west of the trail is stunning, but I believe most is off limits and it falls under the jurisdiction of the US Army.

Once on the bridge, you have beautiful views both up the river and down. Below the footbridge, you can make out the remnants of the old railroad bridge. The original bridge was by the Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul, and Pacific Railroad (otherwise known as The Milwaukee Road) in 1909 during its Pacific Extension. In 1906, The Milwaukee Road began construction on its transcontinental rail line from Chicago, Illinois to Tacoma, Washington, which was completed three years later.


Our mission is a labor of love, but it does come with overhead. If you’d like to support our efforts we’d certainly appreciate it. Currently, we’re actively participating in the following field research:

  • COASST Beached Bird Surveys
  • Wild and Scenic River Project

Thank you.


I’m not sure who was more surprised as we pulled past the group of field hands taking a coffee break, them or us

Steve Weileman


We are the learned society for geography and geographers.
Working to provide opportunities for outdoor enthusiasts to make a difference as they play in the outdoors.
Working to translate long-term monitoring into effective marine conservation solutions.
Sea Grant Washington
Provide integrated research, communication, and education to coastal communities that lead to the responsible use of the nation’s oceans.

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Or maybe I should have titled this section, ‘Damn Google!’ This all started as we headed out to Quincy Lakes Wildlife Area. The route Google Maps had suggested was the one we had traveled before. All was good, with Brad following my lead in his Honda Civic. The problem developed when I noticed that there was a similar route, and being stuck behind a box delivery truck whose only offense was blocking my view, I decided to follow.

My first clue to something being amiss was when I couldn’t tell the difference between the dirt track Google was suggesting I take and the driveway next to it.

It wasn’t long before I realized I was so off the beaten path, traveling between rows of a vineyard. I’m not sure who was more surprised as we pulled past the group of field hands taking a coffee break. I’m sure their look of surprise was equally mirrored in my own!

All the way, Brad loyally followed despite the danger to his Civic’s undercarriage. Finally, I saw a truck on an obvious intercept path and the owner very politely corrected our mistake and provided directions to get off his land. My only saving grace was when he admitted that I wasn’t the first Google fool to drive on his land.


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Dusty Lake

Having gotten back on our correct route, we quickly pulled our bikes from their racks and started packing, sleeping gear, photography gear, and other supplies. Once provisioned, we turned our heavily laden bikes south toward our destination.

Having the bikes so heavy, it took a while to find a method to feel like we were in control of them. Turns out the best method seems to have the electrical assist turned off, in a low gear, and use the thumb throttle for a boost when needed. This knowledge came at a few comical moments but we all stayed upright somehow.

Once we arrived at our chosen campsite, we quickly set up camp and pulled cameras from packs. Our photograph adventures didn’t last very long as a heavy thunderstorm had us ducking into tents soon enough. However, the rain gave the air a freshness that was appreciated.

The temperatures dropped as quickly as the sun, but an advantage of the bikes was that we brought firewood and a firepit. It was truly worth all the effort and embarrassment as we enjoyed the evening stars and conversations.

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