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If you visit at the right time of the year Stehekin, Washington is a Bear Country Jamboree. Do not feed the bears, do not play with the bears and do not attempt to take one home with you.

The Way to Stehekin is definitely over the Road Less Traveled. Stehekin is situated at the end of 55 mile long Lake Chelan, deep in the North Cascades of Washington, accessible only by boat or foot or floatplane. 

No phones, no TV, no radio. Very likely the most remote, isolated location in the Lower 48 of the United States. 

None of your companions on this little adventure had been to Stehekin before. It was to be 4 days of discovering the delights of a world far removed from our usual Urban Madness.

The trekkers on this journey are the twins, Wally & Eddie, eager to bike, hike and eat; Wally's first wife, Wanda, hoping to get her and Wally's relationship back on track after recent events; Keith & Prissy, a pair of hiking maniacs with bad attitudes; Clarence & Cleo, a GP and a PG doctor; and your guide on this trip, Doctor Durango, eager for a good time after the Hell at Sunriver  a month earlier.....

The Lady Stopped Here.After a quiet night at the incredibly comfortable Wapato Point Village Inn, in the town of Manson, we were standing on what we thought was the correct boarding dock, since it said Manson Dock, waiting for the 9 AM arrival of the Lady of the Lake when Wally saw people standing on the shore about a quarter mile away. Wally rode his bike there in the off chance this was where we were supposed to be. He quickly pedaled back yelling we were in the wrong spot. Wally is prone to lame jokes and infantile humor, so we  didn't believe him. But when we all saw how panicky Wally  became when the Lady of the Lake came into view, we suddenly believed him. So we all took off, those with bikes riding, others running, carrying all our baggage, getting to the correct boarding area just as the Lady of the Lake pulled up.
Wanda & Cleo on the Lady. The Ladies of the Lake: Cleo & Wanda aboard the Lady of the Lake II.

(thanks to the intervention of Wally)


Lake Chelan.The Lady of the Lake II is the slow boat to Stehekin. A four hour float. It is a very relaxing ride as you slowly make your way up Lake Chelan. After about an hour onboard you reach the end of the road, you no longer see signs of civilization, you enter the Wilderness... gradually approaching the Stehekin Valley, a place with less than a 100 year round residents, with no crime, plenty of time, fresh air, beautiful mountains and clean, clear blue water in lakes, creeks, rivers and waterfalls....

Bears and other wildlife are lurking 
below as you scroll through Virtual Stehekin...

Wally Bear.


Wally Bear outside Wanda's Room.

This was not a Disneyland Animatronic Bear. It was the real thing. For some reason this cute Black Bear desperately wanted to linger outside Wanda and Wally's room. He is a yearling, just separated from his mama, not knowing he should find food elsewhere. We were just minutes into Stehekin when this bear made his first appearance, climbing a tree at the edge of Lake Chelan. By our last day in Stehekin the bear had grown a bit more determined in his search for food.

Wanda & the Bear.

With the Lady of the Lake docked at the Landing, Wanda looks concerned the bear might not move from her room in time for her to get her stuff!!

Out of Control Bear.Here the same bear is stalking for food by the Stehekin Lodge Restaurant near the Golden West Visitor Center. The Ranger tried to run the bear out of town, but the bear did not want to go anywhere but up a tree. It is very difficult to believe  an animal so cute can be dangerous, and while everyone in Stehekin emphasized, repeatedly, that Stehekin had never had a bad bear incident, they seemed very determined to control the behavior of animals they claimed had not harmed anyone.

Five bears had been murdered in
 the 2 weeks prior to our arrival.
It seemed a pointless slaughter.

Buckner Orchard Bear.About 3 miles up valley, there is an abandoned orchard, the Buckner Orchard of Buckner Ranch, the same Buckners who have a mountain named after them which hovers over Stehekin. This orchard contains the world's oldest strain of delicious apples, called common delicious. They are not the red or golden delicious the Chelan area is currently famous for, but a green and red striped apple. Anyway, we were at Rainbow Falls (take the Hiking Trails to see Rainbow Falls) and the tour bus driver told us how to hike into Buckner Orchard and that there were a lot of bears in there eating the ripe apples. We were on our bikes, which you are forbidden to ride anywhere but the road, so we hiked a very nice trail about a quarter mile into the orchard. Once we found the trees it did not take us long to find the bears, up in the trees, knocking apples to the ground. This picture shows a mama bear and her cub. The cub was very cute, falling out of the tree a couple times. By the end of our stay we had become very familiar with Buckner Orchard. More on that in the 'Food' section... 

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