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1:00 p.m., so a minimum of one night is required somewhere on your journey. At least two nights out is the pace that I recommend. Lake Chelan is one of Washington’s natural


wonders. The fjord-like lake is 55 miles long and averages a mile in width. While Lake Chelan is a natural lake, its level is controlled by a dam on the lake’s outlet near Chelan. When full, the lake’s surface elevation is about 1,100 feet above sea level. With a maximum depth of nearly 1,500 feet, it is the third deepest lake in the United States. Surrounded by numerous mountains, the lake is situated in one of the deepest gorges in the country. Nearby, Pyramid Mountain rises to an elevation of 8,243 feet; its summit is about five air miles distant from the lake’s deepest point, 386 feet below sea level. The gorge was carved by an ice age glacier that flowed down the present lake’s valley during the Pleistocene Epoch from the massive icecap that crowned the North Cascades in the vicinity of Cascade Pass. From Prince Creek, the trail climbs at


first before traversing open rocky hillsides vegetated with sparse grasses and dotted with ponderosa pines. As one hikes toward Stehekin, the vegetation changes to Douglas fir and more verdant undergrowth, reflecting the increase in precipitation and cooler temperatures associated with heading deeper into the mountains. In April, the wildflower show begins at first with grass widows, yellow bells, spring beauty, glacier lilies, trillium and lady’s slippers; later and into May, bluebells, dogwood, sego lily, balsamroot, prairie stars, lupine, wild rose, Indian paintbrush, Oregon grape, serviceberry and hyacinth are on display. Be aware that springtime is tick season.


Keep an eye out for poison ivy. Rattlesnakes may be encountered along the sunnier parts of the trail. Camp with care, as bears may wander through your camp, especially if food is not stored properly. In recent times, fires have repeatedly burned the mountainsides traversed by the Lakeshore Trail. In 2001, the Rex Creek fire burned more than 55,000 acres in the Lake Chelan- Sawtooth Wilderness. In 2006, the Flick Creek fire burned nearly 8,000 acres in the Lake Chelan National Recreation Area. It has required major trail work in recent years to keep the trail clear of blow down in the burned areas. Also, flash foods and mudflows can be a hazard to hikers who linger in the vicinity of some creeks crossed by the trail. Signs warn hikers that these events can occur as a


Lady of the Lake, Lake Chelan, Washington, May 2011 44 SPOKANE CDA • May • 2012


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