Day 30: Cars, boats, buses and boots

by Kate Djupe

My mom and the boys were able to drive us to Lake Chelan, where we all caught the boat that takes folks from civilization to a small, isolated village (Stehekin) that is not accessible by roads. 

Lake Chelan is 55 miles long. It is the 3rd deepest lake in the nation which is actually quite impressive because it is, on average, one mile wide. The captain said plenty of impressive things about it being deeper from bottom of lake to mountain top than the Grand Canyon and something about the temperature and whatever - I cannot quite recall those factoids now. I think I was so busy watching the transition from serious development to an occasional tent or cabin; from high desert hills to forest to snow capped peaks; from a road right along the edge of the lake to nothing; jet skis following our boat until we crossed into the remote parts of the lake and saw only kayakers.

Oh, and eating the amazing rainier cherries they were selling on the boat.

And also dancing with the boys.

From Stehekin, we secured our backcountry campsite reservations, gave hugs & kisses to our boys 

and hopped on an old school shuttle bus to our trailhead. 

While we were hiking 6 hard, dry miles up to Bench Camp, the boys and my mom took the boat back to civilization and started their own adventures.

This is Paul appreciating the view of Lake Chelan from a few miles away.

The hike was harder and hotter than I expected.

The color of that water and the difference between the shallow and deep part of the lake are just not showing well in this photo. 

It was a hard hike mostly because there was no water to refill our bottles for many miles. We could hear it and sometimes we could see it, but we could not get to it without a life threatening descent over the cliff (one we would not be able to climb back up). Normally, 4 miles without a water refill is manageable. Today was a record high (for our trip, at least) in the 80s with very little tree cover (because of a forest fire a few years prior).

So, we were relieved to finally reach the stream. 

It gave us plenty of opportunity to rest, refill our bottles and repackage our feet (blister management).

There were also opportunities (read: breaks to catch our breath) to take photos of beautiful mountain life.

A few steep miles later we reached our campsite! We set up our tent as quickly as possible because there were just so many mosquitos ready to eat us.

After a wonderful nap, we headed down to the waterfall for a quick cleaning, water bottle refilling and moment of calm.

There is a funny thing about the streams in this part of the mountains - they smell like beer. I like it.

The trip was difficult, but these deep breaths of mountain air are worth it.