Lake Chelan to Stehekin

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Chinook
Admiral
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Joined: Sun Feb 26, 2006 7:20 pm
Location: LeavenworthWA 2002 26x, Suzuki DF60A

Lake Chelan to Stehekin

Post by Chinook » Mon Aug 10, 2020 1:27 pm

Just returned from a 4 day trip up Lake Chelan to Stehekin. For those who are unfamiliar with this remarkable lake, it's the largest natural lake in the State of Washington, at 55 miles it's easily the longest, and it's 1600 foot depth makes it the second deepest lake in the US. At its deepest point, Lake Chelan is 500 feet below sea level. The lake has been raised 21 feet by a small hydro dam, but it still has the feel of a natural lake. The lake occupies a glacially carved fjord, and it trends northwesterly from its outlet just above the Columbia River at the town of Chelan, into the heart of the Cascade Range. Mountain ridges along both shores rise to peaks and ridges as high as 8000 feet. Our destination was Stehekin, a unique isolated community of perhaps 60 year round residents, located at the head of the lake. There are no roads from the outside world to Stehekin. One can only get there by plane (either float plane or fixed wing, landing on a small grass strip), by hiking, or by boat. A passenger ferry makes daily round trips to Stehekin. Stehekin is within the North Cascades National Recreation Area and just a few miles below the boundary of the North Cascades National Park.

I launched at Old Mill Bay ramp in Manson, at Mile 12. The ramp is unprotected, and it was very windy when I launched. I anchored out at in the lee of Wapato Point, picked up my 2 friends at the dock next morning, and started our run up lake shortly before 8am. By noon the wind was flowing downlake at 15 mph, kicking up whitecaps. No chance for sailing in a narrow fjord, wind on the nose, and more than 40 miles to travel. We motored comfortably at 6.5 mph and enjoyed the scenery. A flotilla of 6 or 7 sailboats passed us along the way, happily sailing with the wind at their backs on their run down lake. We arrived at Stehekin Landing, about 2 miles below the head of the lake, a little after 2pm. Docking was a challenge, since the wind was really blowing strong by then. The docks are completely exposed and with 2 miles of fetch, it makes for lots of complications. We got in safely though, tied up with 3 fenders, good spring lines and 2 bow lines angling forward to dock cleats.

We laid over 2 nights in Stehekin, which gave us a full day on Saturday for exploration. We obtained bikes from a friend who operates a bicycle rental business. Before retiring, he served for 30 years as the teacher at the Stehekin one room school house. Wonderful guy and a treat to see him again. Our bike ride included stops at the bakery, the historic one room school house, built in 1921 and retired in 1988, 300 foot high Rainbow Falls, and to the Buckner farm, homesteaded and planted to apples by the Buckner family more than 100 years ago. The trees are still maintained and harvested by valley residents. Near our turn around point we admired the view of McGregor Mountain, named of course in honor of our beloved boats. Too bad they misspelled the mountain's name.

The wind blew strongly on Saturday as well, but wouldn't you know it, on our return travel day of Sunday, a calm settled in. We were able to sail for a couple hours in the morning, averaging just over 4 mph, but it died down well before we made it back to Old Mill Bay. For anyone within trailering distance of Lake Chelan, I heartily recommend it for a 3, 4, or 5 day cruise.

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BOAT
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Re: Lake Chelan to Stehekin

Post by BOAT » Mon Aug 10, 2020 3:13 pm

Used to camp at Mount Rainer as a kid - even climbed up to the Ice Caves.

That was a long trip all the way up that Lake - it looks like a long snake like lake on the maps. That's pretty cool. That looks like a nice place for the MAC boat - I think we all should check that place out. Looks like a nice spot.

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Jimmyt
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Re: Lake Chelan to Stehekin

Post by Jimmyt » Mon Aug 10, 2020 6:41 pm

Thanks for posting that, Mike. Beautiful pictures!
Jimmyt
P-Cub-Boo
2013 26M, Etec 60, roller Genoa, roller main
Cruising Waters: Mobile Bay, Western Shore, Fowl River

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Todd
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Sailboat: MacGregor 26M
Location: New Mexico

Re: Lake Chelan to Stehekin

Post by Todd » Fri Sep 04, 2020 10:34 pm

That would be a great place to have a Mac Round-up. Every time I think I have google earthed every lake in the country I hear about another one like this. I also like that it is long and skinny with a few stops along the way-- it would be a great week to spend there. The pictures are great-- I love seeing how this boat is used. The lakes in Washington are a stark difference from the ones in New Mexico.
Todd
'07 26M

:macm:

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