Spring has arrived with all her glories in Stehekin valley. The past two days have been rather rainy, and one can almost see the buds swell and the grass shoot up.
Scenic Beauty Unexcelled Upon the Globe
Far Famed Lake Chelan
Honor L. Wilhelm Graphically Describes, in the Coast Magazine, a Trip Up State’s Greatest Lake.
The Swiss Alps are picturesque and beautiful for the romance and history which the residence of man in that region has crowned them. The chateau nestling amidst the glaciers and the banks of snow and the conflicts of the ages which have been waged in that region between nations for the supremacy of the old world have directed the feet of the sightseer and the wealthy in that direction for recreation and pleasure. Man has made for the Alps the glory and attraction which draws the tourist to view their beautiful heights and learn of their historic past.
Lake Chelan, in the heart of the Cascade mountains, has for its attraction to win the attention of the tourist and pleasure seeker majestic and sublime scenery. In all the glory and ruggedness, the sublimity and greatness that crowns the handiwork of the Creator of the Universe. Here, a few hours ride from the busy marts of trade and industry, we are in the midst of mountain fastnesses, where eternal glaciers and snow fields lie, where peaks lift their hoary crests white with the remnants of the storms of many a winter’s fierce and raging tempest. Here we find the laughing, dashing cascades springing from the height o many a mountainside to come tumbling down to meet the placid depths of the great lake which names the region. Here we find the everlasting green of dense forests rising from the water’s edge and extending up to the snows on the heights above or lost in the rocky brown of barren altitudes.
Lake Chelan has scenery which baffles the band of man to reproduce; no artist can paint the tints of the early morning as the lights of early dawn grow and swell into one grand gorgeous array of color vivifying the lakes, mountains and rushing torrents which during the hours of night have continued on in the ways set by the immutable laws of their creation; nor can any artist paint the varying hues and tints, the changing colors and scintillating lights of a mountain sunset. Even if he could, the ravages of time would rob them of their pristine glory and their faithful representation. In time the very strongest picture on the canvas fades away and its scenes are lost in oblivion. The only pictures which never fade away are the impressions stamped upon the mind in memory. For those who love the beautiful and glorious, the wild and the great, Lake Chelan is the place for the realization of the dreams of the wildest fancy.
Lake Chelan is a region especially favored by the hand that carved the beautiful and built the everlasting, no only in that it is rugged, wild and vast, but that it is accessible to weak and strong alike, the trip being one continual ovation of pleasures and delights. No one who is able should miss seeing Lake Chelan with its wonders and beauties.
Come with me and let us visit Lake Chelan. We have come from Wenatchee and made that interesting trip up the Columbia river. We have ridden up from Chelan Falls to the foot of the lake. In the cool of the morning, while yet the air is sweet from the kiss of the evening dew after a hasty breakfast, we embark upon one of the staunch and safe steamers plying the lake.
Upon both shores of the lake, gardens, farms and fruit orchards are seen. The waters may be still and calm, giving upon their bosom the reflection of hills and valley. The lake is very deep—bottom being 600 feet below the level of the sea and the surface 1,094 feet above it and from one to two miles wide. Gracefully and smoothly the steamer glides along the water, scarcely raising a swell and leaving in its wake a gentle ripple. It is 60 miles to the mouth of the Stehekin, which is the head of the lake.
Numerous stops are made, the line being constituted a rural free delivery mail route. It is unusual to note how a seven-foot draught steamer can shove its nose up to the shore at almost any spot, whether upon rocks or pebbly beach, and unload or load. This is possible because of the steep shores and sheer descent.
Lake Chelan extends in a general northwestern direction and is the largest lake in the state of Washington. Its waters are icy cold and come from the snow and glaciers of the Cascade mountains. There is much mineral deposit in the region and the time of cheaper transportation only is awaited for the realization of large fortunes.
As the boat steams along over its placid depths at each turn new and interesting features are revealed. Numerous summer hoes and fruit ranches are there seen. Upon the east and north lies the allotment of Wapato (potato) John, a Columbia river Indian where live his descendants and which embraces an area of the most fertile and beautiful land upon the lake.
At the turning of every point the scenery becomes wilder and grander. The rough and barren rocks rise more precipitously. Pine trees are seen to cover pots in ravines and to cling to places upon the hillsides where soil may be found. The foothills rise higher and become mountains. Snow can be seen at any season of the year. It is along these slopes the deer, bear, grouse and other game can be found. At the mouth streams which come rushing and plunging down ravines and gorges the finest of mountain trout can always be caught.
Higher and higher rise the mountains as the head of the lake is neared. The snow fields can be seen upon all sides. The air is cool and refreshing. For twenty miles not a hut or shanty can be seen, then the boat comes in sight of Moore’s. This is a pretty spot. The picture here with shows the view at the place looking to the head of the lake. Mountain streams here are numerous. From a water fall here Mr. Moore has secured power and operates a system of electric lights and obtains water for drinking and irrigation purposes. It is eight miles to the head of the lake, the mouth of the Stehekin river.
The head of Lake Chelan is in the midst of mountains upon whose sides the everlasting snows of ages lie, from which the clear, cool fountains rise. Amidst tall cotton wood, maples, alders and varied kinds of evergreens, the Hotel Field at Stehekin greets the eye. Upon the glassy surface of the lake’s calm bosom the glories of a wild, hemmed in by mighty walls of rock, are mirrored. Sporting trout can be seen in the clear depths, switching their tails and gracefully gliding hither and thither. They are mainly of two varieties— “cut throat” and “Dolly Varden.”
As the steamer draws up to the landing the impress of great, large, overpowering scenes is felt while the vast wilderness frees the soul and mind of earthly cares and troubles. Upon every side the immense, high mountains rise in towering majesty. Craggy peaks are seen which pierce the heaven’s blue or are lost amidst stormy mists which cling around their top most altitudes. So sharp and perpendicular are their sides that neither snow nor vegetation rests thereon. In the ravines upon the mountain crests field of snow can be seen throughout the year. Overhanging rocks, jutting crags, slender pinnacles, deep dark ravines, rough gorges and regular sloping sides with a thin covering of pine trees, compose the landscape. It is grand upon a clear summer night to watch to moon creep down behind the dark towering mountains and line their crests with a gleam of moonlit glory.
Three miles from the mouth of the Stehekin is Rainbow falls, where Rainbow creek coming down from Rainbow mountain, leaps from an altitude of over 300 feet to dash in spray and mist over the rocks to a basin below. A team is in waiting at each boat to drive to these falls. The roadway winds along the valley through the forest and the trip is one of varied splendor and excitement.
Mountain peaks are on all sides. First, to the left, stands “Castle Mountain,” a ragged bunch of jagged pinnacles. Then comes “Baldy” “Elephant Mountain” seems to be standing with its head against a group of towering rocks named “Honor’s Crest.” Snow covers the higher altitudes. Several rushing mountain streams are crossed upon puncheon bridges. The splashing waters sing a musical song as they dash with seeming glee and wildness in freedom over boulders and well-worn rocks. Through wooded vale and over stony hills the carriage goes until a constant roar announces the nearness of the falls.
As the road emerges from a group of trees the falls come into full view. It is a scene never to be forgotten. High up above the tallest trees from a narrow opening in the rocks the frothing, foaming waters gush. Plunging from that altitude they leap down, down, down, – a mass of sprouting, stumbling, frightened water jumping into space where the fly off into spray and vapor, a stream of silvery white from the heights above to the depths below, over which a beautiful rainbow hovers in the air. Down fall tons and tons of water, while without break, waters rush from somewhere up beyond, to fall and be lost in the torrent below which surges for a moment in the basin there and rushes over rocks to be lost in the river not far away.
It is grand. It is inspiring. It is sublime. All nature stands in silence before the spectacle. Even the wilderness has an awe for the dying roar of the cataract. Even do the mountains stand mute in the presence of its everlasting grandeur. It is natural that man should worship before its constant fulfillment of nature’s greatest and most exacting law. The mind, heart, soul and body are held in rapture at its surroundings.
But this is not all of the Lake Chelan country. Twenty-two miles further and the traveler is in the midst of the wildest and most picturesque scenery of the Cascade mountains. There is reached the main range. There is seen what is known as Doubtful lake and Horseshoe basin. The view is one vista of mountain peaks with glaciers and eternal snow fields thrown in between. Pretty, blooming flowers grow here to cast upon the air a delicate perfume, whole snow and ice abound to cool the burning rags of the sun … [unreadable] … flutter through the air. Wild and fierce and absolutely untamed are the rough and rugged surroundings.
Here are half a thousand peaks from 9,00 to 10,000 feet thigh. The emotions of the beholder and of awe, wonder and worship. The mind is awhirl with excitement and overwhelmed with the vastness and magnificence of the scene. The soul seems to leap in ecstasy and revel un the unspeakable glory and boundless greatness of the view. The heart is thrilled with the sublimity of the surroundings and ma? Is lifted by some unseen power high into heaven and undo the portals of the abode of the Infinite.
Stehekin is the post office at the head of the lake.
Leaving the hotel at early morn while the cool of night is yet upon the air, with a bright sun peering over the mountain tops the boat takes its way to the foot of the lake Enthusiastic visitors crowd the deck aft to get a last glimpses of this delightful region or take a snapshot of the view. At each stop waving salutes are given to residents or campers. A crowd in waiting at the Lakeside landing for the inbound steamer. Some passengers remain to Lakeside others go to Chelan.
A feature of the trip is the stage ride from Lakeside and Chelan to the Columbia river.
In the early morning the start is made. It may be dusty, but an outing is no outing without dust. After good byes, the lake, the town, the mountains are left behind and the enjoyments of the trip are a dream in memory, a picture in recollection. The stage rattles down the canyon road safely rounds points and crosses gullies at the heads of gorges passes the view of canyon of the Chelan river and with a jerk rounds up a t the landing at Chelan Falls. Soon the boat gathers the passengers and freight and the downriver trip is begun. A few hours through the Columbia river canyon and the green fields of the Wenatchee valley are again seen.
Lake Chelan! Wonderland of pleasure and delight! Here man can hunt and fish or enjoy the pleasures of mountain climbing and scenery. When the hot and sultry days of summer come, here can be found a cool and quiet nook. Who would seek the grand, the wonderful and the beautiful [lake].
Stehekin Heritage is dedicated to perpetuating and protecting a viable community presence in the Stehekin Valley, as well as, sharing and enhancing public recreation throughout the North Cascades.
Address: PO Box 1, Stehekin, WA 98852