Chelan Lakeshore Trail

Options abound on this simple and beautiful hike for the budding backpacker.

The Chelan Lakeshore Trail from Stehekin

Location: North Cascades National Park, Washington

Length: 7.6~37 miles (1-5 days)

Difficulty: Easy

Rating: 4-Star

Season: Spring or Fall

Water Availability: The Lakeshore Trail dips to lake level regularly and the lake water is cold and clean.

Getting there: From the town of Chelan drive to Fields Point and take the ferry to eit wher Prince Creek, Moore Point or Stehekin Landing, depending on how long of a trip you are planning.

Know-before-you-go: Permits are not required to camp at the boat in camps listed here. There are three campgrounds in Stehekin that all require free permits.

Sky Above and Below: The Lakeshore Trail offers up breathtaking views from the dry northeastern banks of Lake Chelan.

Sky Above and Below: The Lakeshore Trail offers up breathtaking views from the dry northeastern banks of Lake Chelan.

This hike takes you along the hot and dry Lakeshore Trail to see sweeping vistas of Lake Chelan and the surrounding mountains. All three options take you to Moore Point, a wide and flat peninsula that reaches out into Lake Chelan and offers breathtaking views up the Lake to the snowy Cascades and down the lake to the dry grasslands in their rain shadow.

Option 1: Take the ferry to Prince Creek, the furthest of the camps from Stehekin, and hike northwest 18 miles to Stehekin Landing, camping at Moore Point along the way.

Option 2: Take the ferry to Moore Point and hike just the most spectacular section of the Lakeshore Trail, the seven miles between there and Stehekin Landing. This can be done as a day hike or broken into two days by spending a night halfway at quiet Flick Creek camp.

Option 3: Take the ferry (or hike in from elsewhere in the Park) to Stehekin, then pickup the Lakeshore Trail from the Golden West Visitors Center and hike southwest to your heart’s content. There are several camps along the way. At the end either turn around and return the way you came, or arrange ahead of time for the ferry to pick you up at Prince Creek.

More information available from the North Cascades National Park website or in person at the Golden West Visitors Center in Stehekin. Stehekin is mile 2580 of the PCT.

Author’s Experience: I took option 3, a down and back to Moore Point, while resupplying in Stehekin during my PCT through hike.

Equipment Used: ULA Ohm 2.0 pack, North Face Hightail 3s sleeping bag, JetBoil PCS, MSR Hubba Hubba (fly and poles only), Merrel Moab Ventilator Mid shoes, sunglasses, Sawyer Mini Filter, 1.5l soda bottle, Arc’teryx Sabre Goretex jacket, window film ground tarp


Backpacking the Olympic Coast Days 4, 5 and 6: Whirlwind

Day 4: Hung out on Shi Shi Beach and did the loop hike up on the rim, which felt like a Tough Mudder course. Highlight was the well appointed pit toilet and foot pump handwash station at the parking lot. Wearing dish gloves all day and wiping your butt with cold river rocks makes you appreciate these two commonplace amenities. You’re own reservation land and the way the natives build a bridge and boardwalk out of rough hewn planks is pretty impressive too, as is the amount of frost and ice they can hold. Oh, and of course there’s the green and magenta sand that covers Shi Shi beach, and the epic orange sunset through Point of the Arches, if you’re into that sort of natural wonder stuff.
I collected a handful of delicious looking mussels (they grow in abundance here) and boiled and almost ate them but remembered there is a marine biotoxin ban on all shellfish here. Considered eating them anyway because I was down to quinoa and lentils but paralysis or amnesia was more risk than I could stomach, pun intended.
Ultimately, Shi Shi Beach is cool but I’d rather be on my own private beach, which would be any of the innumerable beaches to the south. Even now in the off season there was a dozen camera toting tourists and the item that ultimately makes or breaks a backpacking destination – the über-epic campsite – was conspicuously missing from Shi Shi Beach. (For the Olympic Coast’s best campsite go to the Yellow Banks just a few miles south.) By 4:30 p.m. the tide was receding (so was any semblance of usable daylight) and I made up my mind to get a jump on the 32 mile trek back, or, to put it bluntly, if there was any way in hell I could make it back to the box of Triscuits in my trunk in two days instead of three I was going to do it. I hiked 2.5 miles in the dark, killed all of my batteries, got lost in the woods*, and had to camp on a cliff when the last 4% of my phone wasn’t enough to run the light. Moral of the story: The inland trail due west of Willoughby Lake is easy to lose. Mice danced on me now and then but somehow four hikers pasted me early in the morning without waking me.

Day 5: Got started at first light (like you would do anything else when you’re laying on a decaying precipice) and covered 15 miles by lunch time. Passed a killer whale carcass that had washed up south of Sand Point. “Vertebrae as large as my pelvis,” Chris, a dayhiker remarked, which was basically true. A little further south I was fluffed for a permit and a bear canister by the friendly year round Ozette ranger and his surly apprentice. I told him the bear can was back at camp, which it was, and he said he’d take my word for it. I didn’t mention I’d left it and it alone there three days prior.

This is the easiest walking section, lots of flat, hard sand. Decided to knock off at the epic elevated campsite on the Yellow Banks and spend the afternoon eating (I had cached two packages of Oriental flavor Ramen and half a loaf of stale baguette under the deck planks here) and collecting buoys which I laboriously gathered on a length of rope and dragged down the beach and up the bank to the campsite. I strung the rope between three trees with the buoys on it, my own take on exterior decorating, after they failed to make a viable tree swing. The sunset was the best yet, quilted white clouds against a deep blue that swirled as it neared the horizon in a way that would challenge the most imaginative watercolorist. I laid back and sank into strange apocalyptic dreams where gravity failed and I gorged on chocolate to console my fears of floating off into space.

Day 6: Should have set an alarm and started earlier, and that feeling nagged me right up until I squeezed through the last obstacle, Hole in the Wall, with what must have been a 6.5′ tide. Hole in the wall needs a 5′ tide or lower to be passable according to the Custom Correct map I took a picture of at the Visitor Center instread of buying, so I did it as a climbing route, clinging to crimps with my fingers through the 15-foot-long tunnel while my feet danced above lapping waves on barnacles while my overloaded pack threatened to peel me right off the wall.
This was a rough 15 mile day which I did without eating because I was constantly outrunning the tide. I wasn’t interested in quinoa and lentils anyway and just like the day before I spent hours dreaming of the flavors of ice cream, steak, breads, cookies and cakes that I would eat when I got back to civilization. I treated water one litter at a time and then drank the whole thing so as not to carry any extra weight.

There are countless capes, points, and headlands to be rounded or climbed over between Yellow Banks and Rialto Beach (which is decided for you by whether there is a rope and a four-quadrant disc signaling an impassable section) and only short sections of sand or pebble beach in between. Much of it is on green- or red- algae coated bed rock that is literally slicker than ice. Along the way I picked up a very nice neoprene immersion suit that had washed ashore. Needing to keep my hands free to climb and to stabilize myself on the wet rocks, I rolled it tightly and shoved it into my tiny pack on top of my bear canister. My 1.5 lbs carbon fiber and ripstop nylon pack was now carrying over 25 lbs. My back ached and my feet sank deeply into the mounds of seaweed and pebbles that I had to cross but my heart rose each time I outran the tide. I immediately recognized when I came to the rocky point that had confounded me on Day 1 and was thrilled to skirt it with less than a foot of leeway – a difference of a mere 45 minutes or so! A mile later I came Hole in the Wall, which a prudent trekker would have bypassed (this is the only place that I noticed where the bypass route is optional,) but I defied the tied and my safer side and when I hopped down onto Rialto Beach I had only to walk a mile through pebbles to my Triscuits, a small challenge by this week’s standards.

*Getting lost up on top of the cliffs was a really eery experience. There is a certain point where the trail enters a sort of clearing of decaying undergrowth. I came back to this point several times, slowly watching my phone battery drain as I searched the clearing methodically (59%), then desperately(28%), then frantically(9%). I eventually found a distinct trail and gleefully descended it defying the growing sick feeling that it was too familiar. I clambered under a down tree and a few minutes later found myself back at the muddy ropes I had used to gain the ridge less than an hour before. Rushing back and forth and counting out loud ‘eight percent, ‘seven percent’, ‘six percent’… I came out on the cliff several times before finally ducking under a stand of salal bushes to find the continuation I had sought, a bent up orange trail marker on a dead tree, just as my phone died. I rolled out my pad and slept there.

Christmas in Hawaii Part 4


Haleakala Day 2, 8:00 am

I’ve been up for about 75 minutes now. I amde some grits and took pictures of the sunrise. There is an interesting group of hippies staying the cabin about 200 yards down the hill from my campsite, and i photographed one of them, Tony, a guiatarist, sitting on the corral gate.

Tony followed the Grateful Dead for three years, seeing 75 of their shows, and so did another person in the group. They told me about hotels full of Dead fas, an artful bizarre in every show’s parking lot, a caved in roof, and “spinning”. Apparently, you can get high from standing in one spot and spinning around, even so high as to leave your own body to become “pure consciousness”. Huh. I may have to give that a try.

Oh yea, Mom and Toni gave me a down jacket, and it really has been a blessing. It is my first and it is so nice to wear after dark and in the morning; I’m always looking for an excuse to put it on. The best part is that once I wake up and I;ve used it for a pillow, I can slip it on and – voila! – It’s preheated.

PS, the hippies told me about a lava tube about 15 minutes from here.

Paliku = “Standing cliff”

The short video clip I shot as I walked into camp explains why: I’m situated at the back of a valley against tall and lush cliffs. Clouds seem to constantly roll over the top but burn off before they reach the warm valley floor. It is sprinkling, fine and misty, but the sun is shining brightly. My campsite here is gorgeous, tucked away beneath a common native tree and looking due south out of the valley and over the ocean. A nene just wandered by. Apparently there are just 600 of them here. They are a type of endangered goose with a grey body and a black head, and a white ring around their neck. They are very peaceful and friendly, and besides me they are the only inhabitants of Paliku at the moment. It is a very peaceful place. The breeze comes every so slightly now and again, and despite the bright sun it is cool and I am wearing long sleeves and pants. It sprinkling again, and I have the rain fly pulled back on my tent.

“Eric, I am going to change your life.” He is at a very malleable age, and i would like to make a positive change in his life, by taking him backpacking. Really get him out of his element. (Transcription note: this is a reference to Eric, the little brother of Lisa, my girlfriend at the time. Admittedly, it sounds a little prepossessed, but I was 24.)

“Lisa? I’m going to change your life” Alright, I think I already have. Anyway, I’m feeling quite inspired just now. I have so much spirit to share. I’m brimming with ways to share it. How about this: Lisa and I come back here to Haleakala crater, about a month earlier in the year when the Siliverswords are blooming, and take horses down to the cabin for a night? Of course, most of the Silverswords were over by Holua, so maybe just backpacking would be better. Then we’ll mountain bike here and in Makawao. In fact, maybe we’ll just mountain bike through the Silverswords, lol. We’ll check out Hana, maybe stay at the fancy hotel for a night, then hitch back and fly to Kaui to go to Halape. Shoot, maybe I’ll just go to Kaui this trip.

Hidden Lava Tube

So I had the pleasure of adding, in pen, a new feature to my Haleakala topo map: a thus far unnamed lava tube. It’s just outside Holua on a southerly side trail. You climb down a very old, rusty, and yet sturdy, ladder through a sky light to a large antechamber. Heading north and generally down hill leads to a very low (8″) crawl for about fifteen feet, then some standing water, and finally a dead end at about 1/4 mile. Heading uphill takes you to second opening at about 1/2 mile, where you can egress to see Holua from afar, and then this direction continues to a dead end. One interesting place was a sort of balcony, reachable from the backside, which overlooked a lower portion of the cave. It was imbued with good energy and covered in candle wax.

Ok, so realisticly I’m thinking Lisa and I should go backpack in either Utah-Arizona, a la the Grand Canyon, or New Mexico if that isn;t warm enough between when we get back from Dillon (January 2nd, I’ve made us new years reservations) and when we go back to school at ACC (January 22nd.) Yea! I will have to pay for it, but I don’t mind, she derserves it. Each day I have been here it has been sunny in the morning and rainy in the afternoon, a lot like Colorado in the summer, and today is no different.

As I promised myself, my second draft of my personal creed is shown on the facing page. Lacking a few yet-to-be-decided details, it will take the general form shown, with a mission statement and paradigm at the top, tie-togethers at the bottom, and the middle populated by three health pillars and accompanying details.

One thing that I really love about backpacking is that I get to have all of my favorite possessions; tromping through a veritable “middle of nowhere” such as Haleakala crate with all of your toys is a lot of fun! I love you AJ! (AKA thank you for the stove, tent and sleeping bag.) You rule Ben! (Thank you for the sleeping pad.) Good call Tim! (Thank you for the rain jacket!) Mom, Toni, I love you two and you are both so generous. Right on Thomas – thanks for the flowlights. These are all things that I wouldn’t have in my life if it weren’t for your influence.

To complete my kit I just need some better pants, something thicker and waterproof but light enough for everyday use.

Christmas in Hawaii Part 3


Day 5 – Sunday 🙂

I love my mom, but I feel like I came here to be on my own, and i haven’t done it yet, except for a few hours yesterday which were quite nice.

So far I’m still wining it, not even a plan for the next couple hours, let alone the time between now and when my mom flies out tomorrow afternoon.

Monday – Haleakala Day 1

I am rockin’ and rollin’. I am feeling so strong so inspired, so full of love and even a little proud (I have not decided if that’s a bad thing or not – to be proud, that is.) I set out from Haleakala summit around 3 pm and I hiked until just after dark, to Holua, covering 7.8 miles.I enjoyed some great conversation at Holua cabin, sitting around the picnic table with a group of locals (who don’t speak in pidgin) before I set up my camp and spun poi to “Louder” by Jose Amnesia, among others. crambled eggs and bacon made for a delicious hot dinner. Hoping mom got the rental car back okay and made her flight; she dropped me at the park headquarters with just enough time to get to the airport from way up here.

Monday – Day 6

I’m learning to get along with my mother again, but it has been hard because her beleif system is so far removed from my own. It is embued by ideas like: “I’m determined by my __ (parents, genetics, environment, etc….)”; “I’m not responsible for my __ (emotions, finances, past, future, etc….)”; and even “Everyone is out to get me.” I feel bad becasue she talks and talks and talks (usually about the past) when it’s obvious, and she knows, nobody wants to hear it. She really needs a better paradigm (“and maybe a therapist?”

I got up early and went biking in the national forest by Makawao. It was great. The trails were really wet so they are tackier than riding in the American west. Most of the time you’re riding on mud covered by leaves and drifiting around corners is nuts. I even rode a really sweet ravine with berms as I descended through the off-limits freeride area behind the water department. Great day – hiking and biking – I feel like my mind body and soul have all been reinvigorated, and now I’m ready to get to bed nice and early. I’ve been thinking a lot about my creed (and talknig to myself about it,) but work on that will have to wait until tomorrow. (Transcription note: my language and ideas at this time were influenced by Steven Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.)

Days 2, 3 and 4 of Christmas in Hawaii


Day 2: Slept in and rode as a passenger in Steve’s maniac mobile as we sped wildly through fog up and down the hills around Honolulu playing dance music. Ya!

Day 3: Maui Begins. The Valley Isle looms ahead of me. My 8:43 am flight to Maui was canceled and my shuttle was running 15 minutes late, but I managed to get a hot breakfast and an earlier flight. Met up with mom and we went to the beach. The surf was up. I swam a bunch. Kinda hurt my neck and right ankle.

Day 4: Downhill Mountain Bike descent of Haleakala. I rented a Specialized Enduro for the weekend and road it down the Skyline Trail on Haleakala. Great ride.

I got stuck in a rain storm and got a flat tire and had to have mom come pick me up. Thank god I had reception!

I’ve been a little frustrated. I’m getting tired of mom’s incessant gabbing. Need to get good long rest. I love myself. I approve of myself. I am willing to change. I am willing to let go.