Choosing Beauty ~Lake Chelan Lakeshore Trail – May 2021

“To walk in nature is to witness a thousand miracles.” Mary Davis

The distance between our last hike and this one feels like a million miles ago. Fear and grief have been working pretty hard to pull us down and the world around us apart. And as our date on the lake approached, those darn bastards did not let up. Turns out life is full of stuff for them to feed on, and they will consume you with their insatiable feasting if you allow them to. But beauty abounds as well, just as persistently, and it can resuscitate even the most weary of souls – if you choose to pursue it. We were in need of some renewing breaths of fresh air and more than willing to chase after them so, after a couple of tough decisions, we chose to seek out the kind of beauty you can only find in the wild by hopping on The Lady of the Lake Express with four of our dearest friends (and quite a few other strangers) to finally explore the reveled shores of Lake Chelan that can only be reached by boat – in search of the beauteous.

The quaint town of Stehekin sits roughly 55 miles down lake, long past all the condos and lake houses that scatter the shores of Lake Chelan. Many take ‘The Lady’ there just for lunch, or to grab a pastry at it’s coveted bakery, or to spend a night at the lodge – far away from the hustle and bustle and noise of the rest of the world. It is rustic, raw and remote and the wifi is sketchy, at best. But, it is luxe in all things wild and pure. The mountains envelope you and their pretty peaks glisten off the frigid clear water in full display. The quaint town is a destination all on its own. But, if you are up for an adventure bigger than a boat ride and marvelous muffin, you can jump ship at Prince Creek and hike the 18 mile Lakeshore trail to Stehekin instead. And that is just what we did.

Thursday night we slumbered in a cute little cabin at Campbell’s Resort in downtown Chelan so we could catch our ferry Friday morning without having to wake up too early.
We chose to spend a little more on our tickets and hitch a ride on the Lady Express. It departs earlier and makes less stops, thus dropping you off at the start of the trail a bit earlier as well.
We picked up about a bazillion other Lakeshore Trail backpackers at Field’s Point Landing, which made me a little nervous. But, God and I had a little chat while we chugged along the way. It went a lot like the other conversations we have. I promised to not worry and He promised me it would all be ok.
Mike’s little sis and her hubs, Jared and April (to the left) have been packin’ it in with us for a several years now. But, our buddies Sarah and Todd were new to the trail, in this fashion. So we thought we’d break them in nice and easy like with an 11 mile hike on day one:)
We had ours packs on and were ready to go long before most of the other hikers who had jumped ship with us. So, as we set out across Prince Creek we had the trail surprisingly all to ourselves.
The trail spread out before us all smooth and kind.
And carried on just so for a nice while, easing our buddies into the wild.
And then it did what most trails do and went up a bit.
But, never for too long – and our happy little campers just kept on trekking.
Soon we were dipping down and crossing over Cascade Creek.
At about six miles in Cascade Creek is the first place you can stop to camp along the trail. But, we had grand plans to make it to Moore Point so we only stopped for lunch. You can follow the camp trail down closer to the water. But, at this point no one was really up for another down that only meant going back up again:). So we just pulled off to the side and munched on the rocks like squirrels.
As were these two newbies.
One of the things I loved most about this trail was that it stayed true to its name. We were always traipsing beside or hovering just above the lake. It meanders along like a gentle roller coaster rising and falling just when you need it to. But after a bit, everyone was ‘wishing’ for a cool spot beside the lake and cozy campfire.
At mile 7ish we passed through Meadow Creek Shelter. One the of the couples that we had leap frogged along the trail with stopped here for the night. It sits up above the lake with not much of a view. But, the creek rambles right through it and the tall timbers provide lots of shade.
We still had four miles to go go and somewhere along this way we passed two large work parties spraying innocuous weeds. It got pretty hard for me not to worry about finding a spot at Moore Pointe, thinking of all the volunteer tents that had to be scattered all along the shore. But, I tried to keep my promise.
After a deep descent of switchbacks that were tough on our legs we veered left at Fish Creek and…
made our way down to the shores of Moore where trail reports had promised camp spots galore.
They were not wrong. There were plenty of spots to pitch a tent but when we arrived at 4pm it seemed every one of them was taken. We were the first to arrive from the drop off back at Prince Creek but between all of those volunteer weed eaters we had passed along the way and anyone who got dropped off here by the Lady of the Lake, it was packed. Toddy looks sad, but really he was the one telling me everything was going to be ok:)
And it turns it out – he was right. We dropped packs somewhere in the middle of the mess but while my search along the creek bed camp up empty, Mike and Jared’s did not. Jared stayed back to make sure no one else took the spot they found before we all could get there so I carried his pack to camp for him. I was so relieved, I would have carried that pack anywhere:)
Even though I broke my promise in the end, God didn’t break His. It felt like He saved this pretty little gem just for us.
We soaked our tired feetsies in the cool waters and fluttering flies flitted upon April Jean’s salty soaked skin. It was a bit of bliss.

After 11 miles and our desperate search for a place to call our own,

we were all pretty happy campers.

Soon the sun was making the mountains blush.
And we were just a bunch of giggling kids around a campfire.
We lounged around chatting and laughing until the stars above us were twinkling and then we all crawled into our humble abodes and slept hard.
We woke up to a sky full of blue shimmering off of the lake. And with Stehekin and a reservation waiting for us at the end of the trail there was no rush to get going. So we took it slow and savored the beauty that surrounded us.
Day two started out crossing over another pretty bridge.
And strolling up above the lake for a bit.
But, before we knew it – the end was in sight.
We made one little pit-stop.
Blazed through some burn.
Grabbed some some water.
And then just about a mile out of town, we lost Mikey. He does this often towards the end of a trail. His heels just kick into high gear and before you know it, he’s fading off into the distance.
But soon we had something even better than cold beers in our hands…

Keys to our rooms, with fresh clean beds and showers calling our names.:)

We made dinner reservations but had some time to kill:)
So, we photo bombed the pretty peaks down on the docks.
Then we spent the rest of the evening just enjoying some good company and grand views.
Dinner was delicious.

Sunday morning we walked the 2 miles to much acclaimed bakery and had the most amazing quiche. And then we jumped back on the Lady Express and headed home.

The world is full of mayhem friends. Really, it always has been. And I’m afraid it always will be. But miracles abound none the less. I see them in the marvel of the mountains and the luster of the lake and in each step we take towards something great. They pulse between the beatings of our persistent hearts and shine through our unconquerable souls.

There’s a lot going on out there. And you get to choose what you set your eyes upon. I choose the beauty.

Surviving it all isn’t enough. We must also fully live.

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