We took Route 153 to follow the Methow River Valley down to Route 97 toward Chelan. The Valley is very narrow and the road winds a lot crossing and re-crossing the river. At Pateros we turned south following the Columbia River till we turned on 97A toward Chelan. There are basaltic cliffs on both sides of the river which, instead of being fast-flowing, is a chain of lakes behind dams all the way past Wenatchee.
Chelan’s main street had road construction. We turned the wrong way and found it difficult to turn around. Then we drove past the entrance to Lakeshore RV Park and had to turn around again. Even with all that, we arrived too early. When Lakeshore says 2 PM is check-in time, it is and not a moment before. We had to pay $2 in the day use area. But it gave us an opportunity to walk around Don Morse Park. Both evenings we stayed at Lakeshore we played the 18-hole, all putting golf course. Did I mention that there are a lot of children in this park?
The next day was our boat ride uplake to Stehekin. Lake Chelan is a remnant of the Ice Ages. Scoured out of the mountains by glaciers, it is one of the deepest lakes in the region, more than 1500 feet deep in at least one area, which places its bed at 400 feet below sea level. It is 50 miles long but quite narrow, and the mountains rising from its shores give it the appearance of a Norwegian fjord. We had a beautiful day for our journey.
The road around the lake ends at Manson on the east shore and just beyond 25 Mile Creek State Park on the west shore so the only way to get people or things to Lucerne and Stehekin is by boat, barge, small airplane or walking. So the Lady Express and the Lady of the Lake II are working as well as tourist vessels. We took the Express (2 hours) uplake and the slow boat to China back (4 hours).
Stehekin has about 85 permanent residents scattered over nine miles of the valley. Surviving and providing for the physical needs of life is primary here. There is wood to gather, gardens to tend, repairs to be made, and snow to shovel. Since there aren’t a lot of convenience foods, food preparation takes time. Employment is through the National Park Service, school teacher, postmaster or power plant operator. And there are a lot of seasonal workers. A barge service brings fuel, building supplies, household goods, vehicles and a variety of other large items. Smaller items such as groceries are brought on the passenger boat. We saw a lot of toilet paper.
We learned of a place called Holden Village that can only be reached from Lucerne Landing after a 12 mile bus ride. Holden was originally a mining town. When the mine closed in 1957 the property was left to the Lutheran Church. It is now a family retreat center welcoming people of all ages, races, faiths and lifestyles so says its brochure. It is open all year. Worship forms the core of the Village’s daily schedule but there is also ample opportunity to explore the adjacent Glacier Peaks Wilderness. Summer programs include a broad array of presenters such as theologians, artists, scientists, poets, economists, musicians and others who volunteer their time to elicit lively conversation. Guests can choose to explore the arts: pottery, weaving, papermaking, needlecraft, drawing and painting.