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Multi-sport adventures in North Central Washington.

North Central Washington is the most startling and diverse region of our state. With four distinct seasons, 300 sunshine-filled days a year, two stunning rivers running through local towns, blooming apple orchards and mountains so close you can touch them, your stay in this area will be memorable.

This weekend started just like any other for me , but took an interesting turn at the end.

On Saturday I arrived in Leavenworth for my weekend rafting trip along the Wenatchee river , which followed by a bike ride nearby. Since I am relatively new to the whole cycling scene and didn't really know where to go ( and road biking idea didn't really appeal to me ), I went to the only place I knew in Leavenworth - Ski Bowl.

Ski Hill Loop's 2 and 5 mile loops ,used for cross-country skiing in the winter, are open to hikers and mountain bikers in the summer. The unpaved trails are visible , well used and quite challenging ( at least it was for me ). A part of the trail offers good views of the Leavenworth valley; along another part, you can see work out platforms ( pull up bars, parallel bars,steppers ) illustrated with exercise pictures .

All in all, its a great area for your morning/evening work outs. Though I circled the trails a couple times it wasn't challenging enough for me. On the way back to my car, I looked up the hill, where an old ski jump tower was, and saw a hiking trail going up the hill. Without second thought I started pushing my bike ( it was too steep to bike ) towards my new goal. The effort paid off in the form of stunning views of the entire valley. The way down wasn't any easier. My bike ( or me ) kept leaning forward, every time I would squeeze the brakes. After nearly going over my head I decided to stop pretending to be a daredevil and pushed the bike down for the rest of the way.

After such an intense work out I thought I had deserved a schnitzel, washed down with a stein of authentic German beer. After dozens of times I've been here I still can't get enough of this fairytale town. The Bavarian spirit is so strong here that it makes you feel as if you're really somewhere in Germany. No matter what day of the week it is , there is always something going on here: art shows, festivals, celebrations, competitions. Even a simple walk along Front Street becomes a holiday.

On Sunday I only had half of the day, so I wanted to take the full advantage of it. Though it was my second year rafting and forth year visiting that area, I never made it further east to the Wenatchee valley. I was intrigued by its nickname " The Apple Capital of the World " and the unofficial headquarters for the area's outdoor activities.

On the way to Wenatchee I visited a small town Cashimier. For a small town ( "the Old American City " as it sometimes called ) it gets lots of publicity due to the local icon " Aplets and Cotles candy factory ". In my opinion , calling it "a factory " is a bit overrated. A small shop with some machines in the back. "Factory " tours and free samples are the main reasons people come to visit it.
The Chelan County Historical Society Museum is spread out over three acres and includes 20 original and furnished pioneer structures. Among other attractions : Historic Downtown and Apple Annie's Antique Mall the largest antique shop in the Pacific Northwest.

Entering Wenatchee through Wenatchee ave , one realizes why it won the " Great American Main Street " award in 2003. The avenue is a mix of cultural activities, shopping destinations, dining opportunities and outdoor experiences.

My first ( and due to a little misfortune, the last) destination was the Wenatchee Riverfront Park and its "Apple Capital Loop Trail ". I have to say , that it was the highlight of my whole weekend. Biking along the scenic banks of the Columbia river with the surrounding views of the snow capped mountains, dramatically sculpted scablands and green apple orchards was an inspiring and relaxing journey.

Another reason for missing most of the Weantchee's attractions - the visitors information center is located not in downtown, but near Ohme Gardens ( another famous site ). So, if you decide to travel down there, make sure you stop by the center or you can check out the Wenatchee official web site.

Budget travel tip : My personal reason for choosing Wenatchee as the headquarters for my trip was -accommodation prices. Just 20 minutes from Leavenworth the hotel prices were as low as $ 35 per day ( comparing to $ 100 in Leavenworth )

On the way home I still had some time and Peshastin Pinnacles State Park was right on my way. Peshastin Pinnacles State Park is a 34-acre desert park featuring a group of sandstone slabs and spires called "the pinnacles." Climbable spires reach 200 feet into the air. Rocks and trails provide views of surrounding orchards, the Enchantment Mountain Range, and the Wenatchee River valley. Though I wasn't there for climbing I enjoyed the park's mile and a half of steep hiking trail and watching a couple climbers making their way up one of the pinnacles.

In conclusion , whether you are a serious outdoorsman or simply planning a leisurely getaway, North Central Washington has an adventure for you. But be warned : its highly addictive and one day ( or even one weekend ) is not enough to fully experience and appreciate this beautiful region of our state.

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