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Lake Chelan/Vancouver Island Trip

Day 4 of 13

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Sunday, June 26th
Biking along the Stehekin Road

Today we decided to rent some bikes to explore the area. There are a couple places to rent bikes -- one is at the dock, and the other is a little further up the road, Discovery Bikes. We chose the latter, partly because it's also the place to make dinner reservations for Stehekin Valley Ranch. The bus driver had recommended it, and after two nights of dry meat at the lodge restaurant, I was ready to try it.

Away we went on the bikes. The road is pretty flat, so even people who don't ride much should have no problem. No sooner than we started, f course, we stopped at the pastry shop to pick up sandwiches for lunch. Then we continued along to Rainbow Falls.

Rainbow Falls

Rainbow Falls is over 300 feet high. It falls down to a pool, which then falls a further 15 or 20 feet before continuing on as a creek. The creek is the same one we saw on the Rainbow Loop Trail the day before (though we had stopped above the falls then). There's a picnic bench near the parking lot, and a log bench closer to the falls. The bench has a nice view of the falls, framed by tall trees on either side. Too bad I didn't bring my tripod on the bike ride.

Rainbow Creek

After each lunch here, we admired the falls and then returned to our bikes. Just after we left, a bus dumped off about 30 or so tourists. If you want to enjoy the falls in private, be sure to check the Rainbow Falls tour bus schedule.

Buckner's Orchard

Apple tree at Buckner's Orchard

Our next stop was Buckner's apple orchard. It's a beautiful setting for an orchard, framed by mountains. After a brief visit, we continued on up the road to Harlequin bridge. We crossed the bridge and stopped at Harlequin Camp. If you're camping instead of staying in the lodge, this is a great choice. There was almost nobody here, and it's right next to the Stehekin River. As we took a break, a river raft came by (yes, you can raft the river).

Harlequin Bridge over the Stehekin River

Rafters on the Stehekin

Shady view of the river

Enjoying the peaceful Stehekin River

The road beyond Harlequin bridge turns into gravel, so we turned around here. After another stop at the pastry shop, we returned the bikes. Then we took the shuttle up to Stehekin Valley Ranch for dinner. The ranch has lodging accommodations (meals included), or you can just go there for dinner. The dining room is one large room with long rows of tables. You pick up your dinner buffet style (there's a "special" which most people get, or you can order an individual dish like a steak or hamburger). While the chicken (the special of the day) was still a bit on the dry side, it was definitely better than the lodge. And there was also a nice selection of desserts.

The ranch is apparently a place where backpackers from the Pacific Crest Trail like to stop to have a good meal after days on the trail. We saw several backpackers eating there, then take the bus down to camp near the dock.

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