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Lake Chelan/Vancouver Island Trip

Day 2 of 13

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Friday, June 24th
Drive to Lake Chelan; Ferry to Stehekin

Friday morning, we made the long drive (slightly more than 3 hours) from Seattle to Chelan. There are basically two routes from Seattle to Chelan. We took Interstate 90 east. There wasn't much traffic, and it's probably the faster route of the two (I'll mention the other on the return trip).

In Chelan, we just had enough time to eat lunch before heading to the ferry dock. I'd made reservations for the 1:30pm Lady Cat, a fast boat that makes the trip across the 55 mile long Lake Chelan in less than 90 minutes. Compare this to the other two boats which take 2 1/2 or 4 hours. It's a bit more expensive, but I think it's worth the cost. Reservations are recommended. Early in the season, it's possible they might not even run the ferry, so your reservation makes sure the do; in mid-season, it's possible it could get full. When we went, there were only 10 passengers on the boat.

We parked our car in the long term lot (it's not a car ferry, and you don't really need one in Stehekin). The ferry took us up the lake. As we went further, the number of human structures dwindled. The terrain on the Chelan side of the lake is much drier than the terrain on the Stehekin side. The boat stopped briefly so we could take pictures of a waterfall flowing into the lake. While the lake is 55 miles long, it is only about 2 miles wide, so it resembles a fjord in New Zealand.

Falls into Lake Chelan viewed from the ferry

Once at Stehekin, we checked into the North Cascades Stehekin Lodge, where we'd be staying for 3 nights. Your choices of lodging in Stehekin (steh HEE kin) are limited. The lodge is the most convenient, as it is right by the dock. The view is also unbeatable. We walked into our humble cabin and looked out the window. My immediate reaction is that I wished we were staying long than 3 nights. The lake sits peacefully outside, a mere 50 yards or so from your deck, only some tall conifers standing in your way. On the opposite shore, the mountains rise steeply up, framing the lake.

Stehekin Dock

Stehekin is a tiny community of only about 90 residents. Pretty much the only jobs there are taking care of one of the few lodging or restaurant options, or the National Park visitor center near the dock.

Stehekin Valley Road

We briefly rested from our long day of travel, then ate dinner at the lodge restaurant. The portions are generous, and most of the food is decent. However, I must admit that the meat was on the dry side (both the chicken I ordered the first night, and the steak I ordered the next). A better option for dinner is the Stehekin Valley Ranch, which I'll describe in a couple days.

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