Monday, May 1, 2017

Signs of Spring -part 3

 arrival of the barge bringing the horses back to Stehekin
Another sign of spring is the Horse Barge. The horses for the pack trips and trail rides - owned by Stehekin Outfitters - go out every fall to their winter pasture at the lower end of Lake Chelan. 
They return in the spring on the deck of the barge. Many gather to meet them and help to walk the horses up the road to their corrals. It's like a small reunion between friends, and an exciting day for all. 
horses and helpers -just about ready to head up the road
leading a string of horses - tied by tails to halters.

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Signs of Spring part 2

the mudflats at Stehekin - the river channels' sculpting is unique every year
Many who visit Stehekin in the summer have no idea the changes that take place as the days grow shorter in the fall of the year. I remember when I first heard of the mudflats, and the disbelief I felt. "A mile of the upper lake turns into a mudflat?" It didn't seem possible. It sounded ugly after traveling back and forth along the breathtakingly lovely road, from the boat dock to the river valley.

In the years since my first exposure to the mudflats I have experienced many happy memories there. When the valley is full of winter's snow, the mudflats allow a place to sit in the sun, kick off our winter boots, hunt for things left behind by the receding lake, watch the swans navigating the river channls, fly kites, play soccer, golf, have archery competitions, ski on the open flats at night under a full moon, have a bonfire and look at the stars. The actual list is endless. 

I have to admit a fondness for the mudflats. I remember my young nephew exclaiming one dark Autumn day, "The mudflats are coming up!" And I recall the joy of that. 
the spring winds can create a dust storm that carries the gritty dust to landing and beyond
"Oh no! There's a dragon coming at us!"

Dragon over the mudflats

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The Voices of Stehekin

Many of us will be posting our thoughts through this blog in the months ahead. We are glad you are here to be an audience that inspires us to share our lives, and the beauty of Stehekin. We share many things in common, but we are all individuals who view our world from unique perspectives.

Trillium emerging through winter's decay

We hope to post many pictures on this blog - pictures that speak more eloquently than we can. Since today is the first day of May I want to share a series of pictures that I call Signs of Spring. This spring has been slow in coming, and almost reluctant to be separated from the cold dark days so recently passed. When the temperature dips down into the 30's at night, and we haven't felt the need to put away our down jackets for the season, we are all encouraged by the signs that we see around us, that the clear, warm, sunny days will be coming to stay soon. 

among the first wildflowers of spring

blossoms and rushing cascades
dogwood blossoms

wild currants by Lake Chelan

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Springtime is a favorite time of year. Though the access to the backcountry is limited in the spring, the quiet reawakening of life in the valley never ceases to inspire. To look closely at what was so recently a barren hillside covered with decomposing leaves and needles, and discover a variety of tiny flowers, pushing through what so recently appeared dull and lifeless, is thrilling.

Do you know what this flower is?

Even the new leaves appearing on the willows beside the river capture interest. In their early unfurling they are reminiscent of chalices uplifted.
New leaves along the river
 A favorite early spring flowers is the Spring Beauty. They remind many of us of chubby little hands bringing bouquets to put in cups upon the windowsill -  small children delighting in the gift that they can offer. Year after year, Spring Beauties always seemed to come back in abundance, even after the children's harvest from our property. 
Spring Beauties - emerging from last year's decay
The lupine flowers are lovely when they start to bloom, but the foliage that comes first is also unique -with the drops of water shining like little crystals in the troughs of each leaf. 
Lupine leaves with crystal beads of water from a recent rainfall

Welcome to Stehekin

McGregor Mountain from upper Lake Chelan

An Introduction to Stehekin

Welcome to the Stehekin Heritage blog. We are a group of people who live in, and love, the Stehekin Valley.  Nestled in the heart of the North Cascades mountain range, at the end of 55-mile long Lake Chelan, we live in a land-locked community of fewer than one hundred year round residents. Private residences are spread from the boat landing area to nine miles up the Stehekin River Valley.
Docks at the Landing

Since there are no roads that lead into Stehekin, to come and go requires time. Many people liken Stehekin to an island, and there is a regularly scheduled ferry service that runs year round. The boat schedule ramps up in the busy season with two boats running daily, and slows to only one boat running three days a week in the middle of winter. Mail comes and goes by way of the boat, and groceries travel from the markets at the other end of Lake Chelan to the dock at Stehekin where they are picked to fill pantries and refrigerators -and ultimately hungry bellies.
"Meeting the boat" in Stehekin 
There are a total of about 14 miles of open road in Stehekin, and the vehicles in the valley have all arrived by way of the barges that have hauled freight  on the lake for more than 100 years. Gas is available at at self-serve pump that locals use with a computerized system for monthly billing. All the gas and diesel arrives by barge.
Courtney Barge loading in Stehekin
Stehekin has a public school that accommodates students in grades one through eight. All grades are taught by one teacher, and when the numbers require it, there is an aide in the classroom. Most children get to school under their own power - generally by bicycle when the weather allows.
This brief introduction is very superficial, but in the months ahead we hope to publish more in-depth posts, taking you deeper into Stehekin as we know it -  a glimpse into life within the Stehekin community.
Please check back.
Children enjoying a summer rain shower at the landing