United States Washington Stehekin
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My Adventure Story
his dog Amber, and I stepped off the Lady of the Lake II onto the
shores of Prince Creek at 11:30am Friday morning. The Lady, a passenger
ferry running from the shores of Chelan to Stehekin (the most remote
community in the lower 48), had picked us up at Fields Point earlier in
the day. After finally getting on the freeway by 7am, we had just made
it to the ferry with minutes to spare.
We looked around - we were part of about 10 hikers that got off the
boat at that point, six of whom were going to do the Summit trail, a 33
mile high elevation odyssey, while the remaining four were going to
hike the 18 miles to the town of Stehekin.
Weather forecasts had called for temps in the mid-90s and already at 11
in the morning we were all feeling the heat. Fully loaded up, Amber led
the way. Unfortunately, after only 20 minutes it became apparent that
she wasn't doing well at all. She was limping pretty badly after
jumping down a hill and we think she may have pinched a nerve (being an
old dog and all). On top of that, the heat was doing a number on her.
Although a bummer, it wasn't a tough decision to turn around and return
to the trail head to wait for the Lady's return trip for a pickup home.
We passed the other couple who wished us well and were nice enough to
use their water to rinse down Amber, and headed back to the trail head.
We got to the trail head and hunkered down for a pickup - about three
hours later it began to dawn on us that the Lady wouldn't be able to
see us on the shore and wouldn't be making any unscheduled stops.
Decision time - we could either wait overnight and hope for a morning
pickup on the ferry's way back to Stehekin, but if the ferry had no one
to drop at Prince, it would probably not stop. We decided the best
thing to do would be for Jayson to stay at the trail head with Amber,
while I footed it to Stehekin by myself to arrange for a ferry pickup.
Wishing each other good luck, I hit the trail. Unfortunately, by that point it was 4pm and absolutely baking.
I feel bad for Jayson, not only because he was stuck there, but because
he just missed an awesome hike. Though it appears to follow close to
the lake, the trail actually curves up and around the various hills
that stand guard over Lake Chelan. The trip was filled with little
blessings - an ice cold brook when my water was out, wild raspberries
ringing the trail when I needed a quick energy boost, and wildlife
abounding when my mind needed distraction from the strength-sapping
The original plan was to take all day and try to reach Flick Creek,
where our friend John had camped last year, but with 14 miles to cover
and only 5 hours of daylight left, I put it in my mind to reach Moore,
a campsite 11 miles out from Prince. About three hours in, I finally
caught up to the couple from before taking a break in the shade. Their
hike was rather uneventful, so they were surprised to hear of the
rattle snakes that had hissed at me a few times already. Wishing me
good luck, they told me to keep an eye out for bear droppings along the
trail, advice that I thought was rather unimportant at the time.
An hour later, the foliage soon grew thick and green and water became
much more abundant. My spirit was lifted a bit knowing that I was
almost to the campsite, which is probably why I didn't notice the
rustling of the bushes ahead of me. It wasn't until I was twenty feet
away that a black bear emerged from the trail!
They say that the bears are more scared of you than you of it, but my
shorts would beg to differ. The bear bounded off trail and ran right up
a hill. By the time the shock wore off and I could rustle my camera
out, it was already a full 100 yards up hill. Thankfully I brought my
I finally reached Moore camp a bit after 8, the sun having dipped
behind the mountains. The heat had killed my meal - the cheese was
melted, the chocolate a ruinous liquid, the bread stale. I had to
settle for four of the most delicious handfuls of raisins I had ever
had and two cups of lake-chilled sake, and called it a night.
I woke early at 6 and hit the trail at 6:30, having it in mind to reach
Stehekin with time for a huge bacon burger. I was in town, cold beer in
hand by 10am (after having alerted the ranger of course, of Jayson and
Amber's plight at Prince).
The boat arrived and departed at 2 - having not made any up-lake pickups. It was a good thing we decided to split up!
Amber is fine and just needs rest, but Jayson thinks her hiking days
are over. Finally on our way home, we traded stories and both hoped the
next hike would be fun for the both of us.