October 3-5, 2013

Not-So-Golden Larch Hiking Trip:  Chelan-Sawtooth Mountains

Chelan Lakeshore Traverse:  Prince Creek Landing to Stehekin Landing

——————– Trip Report Summary ——————–

Region: Northeastern Cascades

Starting Point: Prince Creek Landing (Lake Chelan)

Way Points: Prince Creek & Rattlesnake Creek & Rex Creek & Pioneer Creek & Cascade Creek & Meadow Creek & Round Mountain Bench & Moore Point & Fish Creek & Hunt’s Bluff & Hunt’s Creek & Lakeshore (Flick Creek) Camp & Flick Creek & Four-Mile Creek & Hazard Creek (hike)

Ending Point: Stehekin Landing (Lake Chelan)

Campsites: Round Mountain Bench & Lakeshore (Flick Creek) Camp

Approximate Total Stats: 17.5 miles hiked; 2500 feet gained and lost.

——————– Full Trip Report ——————–

When an unseasonable snowstorm hit the Cascades last week, my plans for a high-country “Golden Larch Trip” got pushed down to lower elevations. The Chelan Lakeshore Trail makes for a very pleasant and scenic outing under these circumstances. Steve, Deb, Tiffany, and Eileen joined on, either as first-timers or second-timers.

Day 1 – Fields Point Landing to Round Mountain Bench:

We all boarded the Lady of the Lake at Fields Point and rode up to Prince Creek. As always, the other passengers were fascinated by our gangplank debarkation onto the rocky shore.

Lady Of The Lake At Prince Creek

The trail crosses Prince Creek and then immediately starts to climb up and over a series of high rocky knobs. We stopped on a sunny perch to enjoy the views up and down lake. The warm weather seemed to bring out the local rattlesnakes; we spotted five or six young rattlers crossing our trail over the course of the afternoon, but they showed no interest in a confrontation.

Afternoon Break On High Knob

At about Miles 5 and 6, the trail passes established campsites at Cascade Creek and Meadow Creek, respectively. However, we took the advice of Dr. Fred Darvill and pushed on an additional mile past Meadow Creek to find a more appealing campsite at a grassy bench on the flank of Round Mountain (5.9 hours from Prince Creek).  The bench sits directly across the lake from Lucerne and Mirror Mountain. We agreed that Dr. Fred was right about this being a good campsite!

Camp 1 On Round Mtn Bench Across From Mirror Mtn & Lucerne

The grassy bench campsite can be readily identified by an orange channel marker just offshore. There is easy access to the lakeshore at a little rock beach near the marker.

Channel Marker Below Camp 1

Day 2 – Round Mountain Bench to Lakeshore (Flick Creek) Camp:

Day 2 began a little warmer and calmer than the previous day, so we made no haste in getting out of camp. Once on the trail, we passed through a large burn area that extended for 2 miles or more. It was reassuring to see vegetation starting to grow on the charred hillsides.

Hiking Thru Burn On Day 2

About 3 miles from Camp 1, we came to Fish Creek and a trail junction marked by a large cairn. The left fork led us down to Moore Point Campground and the site of the old Moore Hotel (1.7 hours from Round Mtn Bench). Moore Point would be a wonderful place to camp for a night or longer, and I suspect that most spring and summer days would find other people doing just that. On this October day, however, there was nobody else around. We ate lunch on the quiet dock and watched the Lady cruise uplake en route to Stehekin. During this time, Steve, Deb, and Tiffany apparently became spooked by the ghosts of the old Moore Hotel; they decided to wait on the dock and catch a ride back downlake with the Lady later in the afternoon.

Trail Cairn At Moore Point

After lunch, Eileen and I donned backpacks and continued northward on the trail. It climbed over the top of Hunts Bluff and provided the scenic highlight of the trip. We sat for a while, admiring mountain and lake views. The Lady cruised by on its downlake run, and we watched it pull back into Moore Point to pick up our comrades.

Chelan Mountains and Moore Point From Hunts Bluff
Lady Of The Lake Approaching Moore Point
Eileen Hiking Across Hunts Bluff

The trail gradually descended Hunts Bluff and contoured close to the shoreline for about 2 miles. In late afternoon, we wandered into Lakeshore (Flick Creek) Camp, which sits on a little rocky prominence a scant few feet above the water level (6.3 hours from Round Mtn Bench). With its lakeside setting and splendid mountain views, this was the most beautiful low-elevation camp we’d ever seen!

Lakeside Camp At Flick Creek

The upper reaches of Lake Chelan are usually a bit windy and choppy, but this evening was dead calm. The smooth water created a pleasing foreground for McGregor Mountain uplake and the Chelan Mountains downlake. We also found the water temperature to be quite comfortable for a pre-dinner dip.

Chelan Mountains From Camp 2
McGregor Mountain From Camp 2

Day 3 – Lakeshore (Flick Creek) Camp to Stehekin Landing:

On Day 3, we hiked the remaining 4 miles into Stehekin (1.8 hours from Lakeshore Camp). Normally, Stehekin Landing would be bustling with Saturday goings-on, but the recent federal government shut-down had turned it eerily quiet. All National Park Service facilities were closed, no shuttle buses were running, and there was not a park ranger in sight. The federales had even required the hotel, restaurant, and other concessions to close down! Fortunately, the bakery was still in full operation, and the resourceful residents were offering truck rides up to the bakery for interested tourists. Eileen and I got our fill of baked goods before heading downlake on the 2:00pm Lady to end a splendid backpacking trip.


——————– Photo Gallery (click to enlarge) ——————–