Atop Mount Spokane awaits a stunning vista

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After we rolled north of Interstate 90 on Argonne Road, east of Spokane, we reached Mount Spokane State Park within an hour.

“It’s 7.2 miles to the top,” an exuberant volunteer said at the park entrance.

So we continued along the stretches of tall-pine-shaded, one-lane asphalt, bump-your-tailgate switchbacks and panoramic views stunning enough to write home about.

At the summit, beneath a sizzling near-noon August sun, Darlene frowned at the heavy haze hovering on distant hills and lakes. I parked near the ski lift below Vista House, an historic stone building on the rocky bluff.

“That’s the building Glen described,” I said. “Let’s eat the sandwiches right away.”

Glen Lindsey owns and operates Alpine Camera (alpinecamera@msn.com) on Argonne Road. He cleans and repairs my cameras.

I had noted signs to Mount Spokane (elevation 5,886 feet) at the Argonne Road exit and asked Glen how far it was. He said 40-45 minutes (less than 30 miles), but he rode to his shop that Thursday morning on a sleek-looking Kawasaki motorcycle.

I figured an hour for us, at least.

Glen described the rock building on top and said he ate Subway sandwiches there.

“Be sure to go all the way to the top,” he added.

So, with hours to wait, we bought the turkey and barbecue chicken sandwiches near the camera shop and reached the park in an hour. It took half that long to zigzag to the top, and we had the baked parking area to ourselves.

Darlene took the sandwiches, wrapped in a sweater for insulation, and headed up to the building. I hooked Nora to her leash and followed with water and a camera.

Bluebells, pearly everlasting and blue monkshood bloomed at the forest’s edge.

Monkshood, Darlene recalled, also goes by wolf’s bane, dog’s bane, Devil’s helmet and so on. It contains Aconitum and has a long history of use as a poison.

We dined slowly, enjoying the cool quiet of the thick-walled Vista House. Then I took photos, inside and out.

“The stonework is impressive,” Darlene said.

And, despite a haze, so were the wide views to the north, east and south across a steep, quarter-mile-long, boulder-strewn slope.

We left then, and stopped twice on the way down the switchbacks.

Nora and I explored a rock dwelling that measured 11 paces long and five paces wide with a wall in the middle. It had a door and window at each end. Must’ve been a duplex back when.

We also walked briefly along the tree and flower-lined Kit Carson Trail before leaving the mountain.

Finally, we checked into a pet-friendly La Quinta Inn and discovered that our room had been upgraded to a two-TV suite at no extra charge.

Fancy that.

Then, Glen called for me to pick up the cameras. I did and thanked him for the Mount Spokane tips.

Finally, in the sweltering heat, I perched on a shaded cement wall at the Valley Mall and Nora volunteered to be petted by passersby while Darlene searched for necessities.

She found several.

Then, unable to leave Nora in the truck, we took Arby’s back to the inn.

Finally, because it had been a long and busy day, we three napped before bedtime.

Contact Don Davis at dondavis@wwub.com. More of Don’s photos can be found online at nd www.tripper.smugmug.com .

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