Thursday, June 29, 2017

Looking for a Sign?

One of the appealing things for visitors to Stehekin is the opportunity to explore independently. There are many different experiences to pursue, and discovering them can be part of the adventure.
You may not find the sign you're looking for, but the signs you do find might help you on your journey, and lead you to some pleasant surprises!
This sign can be found 1.5 miles up the road from the landing.

A friendly greeting to all visitors

not too far up the road from the landing - handy to be able to mail your postcards
a few strides up the road from the Post Office - a short and interesting little stroll 
This one could use a little touch up, but this picnic area is about a mile up the road from the landing, and is a nice spot to relax and enjoy the lake 

not much more than 1/2 mile from the picnic area - a lovely stop on the way up the road
while exploring please abide by our speed limit!
just two miles from the landing - a favorite spot for visitors and locals alike
generally kids don't see-saw in the road, but it's good for drivers to be aware that there are children out and about
about 1/2mile further up the road from the bakery
just across the road from the lower Rainbow Trailhead
When school is not in session, visitors are welcome to pop in and take a look at the school.
Of all the signs here, this is probably one of our favorites - at the Stehekin Pastry Company (AKA: the Bakery).
We hope you can come and discover some of the wonder of Stehekin, and maybe you'll even find the sign that you've been looking for!

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Speaking of the past....

"It's a flat belt pulley," he says, his enthusiasm picking up.
To me it is a cool-looking relic that we cannot part with. The rust has been gathering for decades on this silent shape in our old shop.
"Look at the outer band. It tapers."
I look and yes, I see it is curved, not flat.
"That's called a crown and it kept the belt centered while turning." So now simple laws of physics are coming into play and this is his world.  Now I see it turning, and a belt going around the outside, and yes, not slipping off either side. Simple, but amazing.

"Look at the spokes. The whole piece was cast at one time. The spokes were curved on purpose so that once the iron cooled the spokes would not break."
Now I can see the graceful curves that attach to the outer band are more than eye pleasing. They are practical.
"What was it used for?" My mind is searching for something in Stehekin that would have such a pulley turning, whirring, smoothly, quietly. Maybe not quietly.
"Might have been part of a sawmill...." he offers.
Courtney sawmill in operation in Stehekin  (Photo Credit~Rene Courtney)
The Courtney sawmill was in operation clear up until our timbers for our home were milled twenty years ago. Another story. This pulley is much older...

"Or it might have been off a planer," he adds, pondering. 

"Or a drag saw?"

(Obviously not a Stehekin photo..but notice the pulleys!)

All we know for sure is, here it is in our old shop not saying a word, full of history, and Stehekin history at that. Something was progressing, though. Something was being built or made with it. Something to put faith in for the future. A cabin? A barn? A fence? A cellar?

"People think we are so advanced," he says. "But look at this crafted piece. It's simple but intelligent, and practical." It's where he lives.

While I have his attention, we tour the corners and talk about these scattered stories. An era and lifestyle speaks clearly in forms that were once used every day. I can imagine the excitement of ordering  and receiving them off the boat or barge, knowing you were getting "the best" for the times.
A vice for sharpening tools


A large "block" hiding in my Iris bed...what huge things did it help lift?
Old first aid box...did it get used? 

And, the endless hand work "inside" the iron for the wood stove top

There is still plenty of hand and backbone challenging work in Stehekin...

Our "up to date" tools
  Each memento could take hours of time just thinking about. And there are plenty more. For now, it's time to get back to work and our short tour ends. He puts his ear plugs in and starts up the roaring chainsaw.
Simple, practical and beautiful, too. Stehekin, past and present, speaking volumes. l.c.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Taking a "Tour" with Discovery Bikes

If you are wanting to take a leisurely trip up valley to check out the sights. Discovery Bikes is a great option. You can find them about 150 yards up valley from the Landing. The  Discovery Bike crew will help get you ready for your journey adjusting bike seats and, if you choose, fitting you with a helmet. They can answer all your questions about where you will be going as well. Hop on your bike and lets be off...

As you come off the head of the lake you will see a beautiful garden on your right. "The Garden" is a great place to stop for local produce and organic fruits, in season. They offer goat yogurt and cheeses as well other delicious and nutritious items. Well worth a stop on your journey valley. 

For  many years The Stehekin Pastry Company has been offering a great place to relax and enjoy some amazing food. From soup to ice cream and everything in between ... stop in to check it out...!

Always a popular item at the Bakery is a warm yummy Cinnamon Roll. They also offer a wide variety of lunch and dessert fare for you to sample.

About three miles up the valley you will glimpse the "New" school.  Most of the summer you are welcome to tour the lower area and check out the past school year in review on the walls of the Motion Room and the main classroom.

Just above the "New" school stand the "Old" school built in 1921 by Stehekin residents.  The door is always unlocked for folks to take a tour. Lots of past student work is displayed on the walls. You can get a feel of what this school was like with 20 some students.

About three and a half mile up the valley is the spectacular water fall. Rainbow Falls is an excellent place to visit. Wander up to the upper falls where, if the season is right, you can get a good misting.  Always a must see when you are in the valley.

Harlequin Bridge is about four miles up the road from the Discovery Bikes.  You can cross the bridge and off to the left is Harlequin Campground. This is a great place to take a rest and relax by the river before heading back down the road to the Discovery Bike stand.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

June in Stehekin: lots to love

June is one of my favorite months in Stehekin.  There is so much to love about it!  Friends that have been gone to high school, college or their winter home start arriving, but the bugs have not come in full force.  We eat nearly every meal outside in June. Our living room expands to include the whole yard.  The flowers I love the best bloom in June. Many show up without any help (good thing for me) from the gardener: iris and daisies in the yard, lupine, paintbrush and lilies in the wild.  You should see the daisies at the orchard!   Come to Stehekin in June and you will be hooked for life.



Past and current students having a marimba reunion at graduation
Anniversary dinner in the woods, June 2013


Thursday, June 22, 2017

Snapshots from Stehekin

What are some of your snapshots from visits to Stehekin?

imagining what it would have been like to go to school in the "Old School"
boys fishing from dock at Weaver Point
deer grazing in Buckner Orchard

horses grazing at Stehekin Valley Ranch
Horseback riding lessons
hearty souls cooling off in Lake Chelan
young hikers resting at Agnes Gorge
Pictographs across the lake from Stehekin Landing
boating on the crystal clear waters of Lake Chelan
Full moon over Lake Chelan

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

One Man, One Acre, Feeding Hundreds: Karl's Garden

Karl Gaskill in his extraordinary garden tending his best crop: Butter Crunch Lettuce
First day of summer, Stehekin. Karl hard at work, doing what he loves

 What will you find at the exact head of Lake Chelan? Tucked under a rocky bluff and hemmed by tall firs, you will find an unexpected jewel.  Lifting a little rope latch, opening a quiet wooden gate of branches, you enter an atmosphere of loveliness and peace. Walking down a well worn pathway edged by butterflies and colorful flowers melts away your cares. Deep emerald green growth tells the story in each row. Precise rows and plantings grow in triumph and abundance in soils rich with hard work and minerals. This is Karl's Garden.

"I garden in a swamp," Karl quips about his location. If you dig ten inches under the soil at full lake level, you hit water. He hasn't watered the garden for two weeks and it is the first day of summer with a hot sun beaming.  Nor will he have to water the rest of the summer. Plants are thriving everywhere you turn.  With  unusual sub-irrigation, roots reach down happily and grow grow grow.

Potato plants far ahead of the rest of the Stehekin valley gardens
However, one can hardly call it a "swamp." Karl's tedious and fine work has transformed this unlikely wetland acre into an organic oasis of delicious beauty. Something about the order and care of the plants, not to mention their significant superior size and quality over most produce is satisfying and inspiring.

Snap peas will be ready soon
"Most people plant their vegetables too close together," Karl reveals speaking about his methods. "Exact spacing is the only way I can do this amount of work alone. After initial springtime weeding, my work is done with a hoe. Spacing just right is the key, then the plant takes over and shades out the weeds."

Yum...the best spinach salad awaits here

Along with sub-irrigation and perfect spacing, Karl invests a large amount of time preparing his soils. Rye grass cover crops are half the enrichment, planted and tilled in the off seasons.  Other enhancement comes from the barn. "People ask me if I hire people to help, and I say yes, I have five employees," Karl smiles pointing towards the paddock where his five goats are resting in the morning sun. They produce enough manure along with leftover alfalfa stalks to cover his whole garden an inch deep every spring.

"Whatchou lookin' at?"
 If you ask about beekeeping, you will receive an in depth, enthusiastic answer about the wonders of bee life. If you ask about challenges, you will learn about certain bacteria and pests and how to deal with them organically. If you ask about which herbs will help your skin, your digestion or any ailment, you will receive a careful, thoughtful and correct remedy from this gardener. He is always right if you follow his advice exactly.  Karl has time to talk to you, even when busy with the thirty or forty people that stop in every day on average.

Karl will always take time with visitors and questions
"I think of the garden as more than a place to sell food. I get to meet the best people that come to Stehekin, and connect in a deeper way in these peaceful surroundings. I like people to be inspired and healed."

You will find in his friendly outdoor store, tinctures for every ailment, soaps, lotions, homemade maple syrup from Stehekin, snacks and an array of natural products. Front and foremost of all his products are his golden jars of honey, coming straight from the hives on sight. "I sell up to 800 jars a season." Karl also makes a creamy wonderful goat cheese that  sells up to 1,000 lbs every year.
Platformed hives to reduce bear temptation

  Hard work and dedication are evident everywhere in "The Garden," as we call it in Stehekin. Karl says simply, "I am doing what I love to do. A quarter of this food goes to my own self sufficiency, and the rest is for sale." Karl supplies the restaurants in the valley including the Stehekin Pastry Company and Stehekin Valley Ranch, but also has high demand from nearby Holden Village. "They would buy every single thing I grow if I let them." As it is, Karl does sell every bit of what he grows and makes. We are more than fortunate to have this kindly neighbor in Stehekin and his beautiful, inspiring garden full of good health! Thank you, Karl!

A rare moment: Karl at rest

Visit Karl in Stehekin for the best organic produce you will ever taste. And if you have time, sit down and ask him a question. He will always take time to answer with a sincere smile.

"The Garden" is located approximately 1.5 miles north of the Stehekin Landing. Open Daily, 9-5. l.c.