The Chelan Chronicles, Part II of IV
Tuesday 9 October 2012 — Category: Outings
While on my four-day outing to Lake Chelan in Washington state — iPad in hand! — I chronicled my entire journey from Chelan to Stehekin and back throughout each day, as I had opportunity to sit down and write a few words. This is the second of four reports of my adventures there.
You can read Part One of this series in The Chelan Chronicles, Part I of IV
Eating large meals at night makes me not very hungry for a big breakfast, so I ordered pancakes, with no meat. Well, they were gooey on the inside and kind of burnt on the outside. Because of that, and because there was a large quantity (of not-so-nice food), and because I was kind of in a hurry, I ate only about half, just like my not-so-nice dinner last night. Well, I guess that’s how life in the wilderness works!
It’s 8:00, and now I’m on a crowded bus heading up the valley. Most of the passengers are young people heading north on the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT), with huge backpacks that took a lot of room on the bus.
Now it’s 9:00, and we’re at the end of the bus route up Stehekin Valley: High Bridge. Time to hit the trail up Agnes Gorge. Talk to you when I’m done with my hike....
Now it’s 2:30, and I’m back at High Bridge waiting for the bus to take me down the valley to Stehekin. So far there are about six PCT hikers heading that way too, plus four other day hikers like me ... and a dog — dogs and their humans!
This morning I was dismayed to discover that the Steak Strips I had bought at Costco — it’s kind of like jerky, but fresher, so you have to finish or refrigerate the package within three days — well, it didn’t taste very good at all. Too sweet and sour ... I couldn’t eat it, so I had to just throw it all away ... what a pity! Fortunately I had brought some other jerky along, so that worked out OK.
The hike today was pretty nice, but kind of on the smokey side. It was weird ... I thought I could smell food on the trail. And then I realized it was the smoke I was smelling, and that it smelled just like my dinner the night before, with the smokey tomato cream sauce. That was a bad flashback! If I would have realized that my dinner would taste like burning forest, I would definitely have ordered something else! Live and learn!
I hiked 2.5 miles (about 4 km) to a waterfall — actually there were two. Near the end the trail split into a few separate trails, so I just took one to the left that seemed to lead closest to the gorge.
At the end of that trail were a couple of large, flat rocks, and you could see each waterfall from there. Beyond that was a straight drop-off, hundreds of feet down. And you couldn’t see the waterfalls very good without getting right to the edge.
I was too scared to stand on the edge, so I got my tripod and camera, and either crawled or scooted on my bottom to get to the edge. Then I carefully set up the tripod and camera, being careful not to knock them over the edge! For my last photo, I held the camera in my hand, laid down on my stomach, and leaned over the edge a bit to get some photos of the bottom of the very deep gorge. Wow!
All that took about 45 minutes. Then I ate my picnic on a ledge a bit further from the edge, but I could still see one of the waterfalls. I don’t think I've ever taken photos under such conditions before!
Well, the bus is here, and so are some more passengers, but it’s not as crowded as this morning. It is pretty nice here in the Stehekin area, but I’m not sure I enjoy being so out of control. I miss being able to eat what I want when I want, and go where I want when I want. Here, I’m at the mercy of other people’s food and transportation and schedules. I think I’ll be glad to be back a bit more in civilization, when I can be more in control of these things.
Since it’s my only choice, I’ll be back at the same restaurant again this evening for dinner. It would be really something to finally have at least one good meal there!
We’re almost back to the lodge, but the bus has stopped at the bakery, although the bus driver said there wasn’t much food left for sale ... just pie and ice cream. Non, merci! Once the bus arrives at the hotel, I guess I should make a reservation for dinner ... they like when you do that. Not long now and we’ll be there.
Ahhh ... it’s so nice to have a hot shower and cold beer after a day’s hike! That reminds me ... after the big leak of the metal trash can, I had switched over to the plastic bathroom trash can for a makeshift ice chest, thinking that surely it couldn’t leak.
Well, this morning I found out it did! So the only thing left to use to keep my beer cold was the small ice bucket ... two bottles fit in it. When I got back to my room about half an hour ago, the beer was still somewhat cold ... not ice cold, but not bad! Success at last! In fact, I think I had better put some more ice in right now ... be back in a minute.
It’s now 5:00, and the sun is already setting behind the tall mountains to the west. My dinner reservation is for 5:15, so I will head over there soon. I’m glad I made a reservation, because the list was already starting to fill up, and I was told that if you don’t make a reservation, you may have to wait for a while for an opening. They have plenty of seats, but not enough staff to handle a lot of people all at once.
OK ... now I’m at the restaurant ... It seems less crowded tonight. Maybe rumors of not-so-good food has scared all the customers away! Actually, there is another place to eat about 45 minutes' bus ride back up where I went today at the Stehekin Valley Ranch, but it seems kind of a pain to get there, you have to make reservations (but there are no phones or Internet here), and I’m not sure how you get back, since there are not any more buses that late. Hmmmmm.
Emily, the friendly, young waitress has taken my order, so I have some more time to write while they cook my meat ... I REALLY hope this is my first decent meal here!
Last evening I walked around a bit to see what the stars looked like, and to see if I might be able to take some night photos while I am here. I could see the stars pretty good, but there are a lot of lights in this little hamlet which spoil the view. I’m going to look around again tonight, and see if I can find a dark corner somewhere kinda close.
I don’t feel like going too far away in the dark, so if I can’t find a good place close by, I’ll probably just skip it and stay inside and relax and read for a while. I tend to do too much on trips like this, so I need to learn to let some things go and not worry if I don’t fill each moment as full as possible. It’s good to have some down time too.
I also need to work hard to make sure I don’t eat too much. It’s easier to control that at home. In order to not over-eat, some perfectly good food will definitely be going into the trash ... I hate to waste food like that, but it’s better to waste it in the trash than waste it in my stomach unnecessarily. Then I just get too fat and I don’t feel well ... and at night I don’t sleep well.
My dinner tonight was decent ... not great, but pretty good ... well, at least the meat, with mushrooms and a light sauce. The rice wasn’t so great, and the veggies were just OK. Things are improving! Tomorrow night I think I’ll stick with potatoes, and have a salad instead of cooked veggies. They can’t spoil that, can they?
After dinner I grabbed my camera and went for a little walk looking for a location to take star photos. I might have found one ... we’ll see if I actually do it. I’m not feeling very motivated. But it would be a pity to miss the opportunity of this nice clear sky. What to do?!
While on my walk I heard Celtic violin music. Out at the end of the dock sat a couple — apparently in their mid-50s — both playing their violins. I think the husband plays the tin whistle on some of the songs. You can hear the music all over the hamlet. They had come on the boat with me, and I have seen them around each day ... they are staying in the room next to mine. They even played Johsefin’s Waltz by Väsen ... I love that song! I hope I get a chance to thank them for their nice music.
And so the sun sets on my first full day in Stehekin. It’s already been a memorable trip — and tomorrow is a whole nother day of adventure!
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