I get a natural high from walking along forest trails and this year I have had ample opportunities to be out in nature, hiking through the most alluring landscapes. Rick and I just got back from our annual trip to Stehekin, Washington with Leslie. While Rick fished the rivers for trout, Leslie and I hiked miles and miles of trails with her dog, Winnie.
No roads lead to Stehekin! In fact, you can only get there by plane, boat, or hiking. One of the many charms of Stehekin is its remoteness. Once in Stehekin, there is a road that stretches from the landing to the Stehekin Bakery and beyond to some trail heads. The only vehicles are the ones that have come over on a barge from Chelan. In order to have a vehicle, you must be a grandfathered-in property owner or lease holder. Wild untouched Stehekin is part of the North Cascades National Park. Around 100 people live here year round.
We took a float plane to the landing. It is about a 50 minute flight from Chelan to the Stehekin Landing:
The next two photos are hilarious (to me, anyways!). You can see how small the plane is. Rick, in green, to your far right, is smooshed into his seat with two other beefy men! Leslie and I, on the other hand, had ample space between us because Leslie bought a seat or a “space” for Winnie. Winnie burrowed and hunkered down into the floor of the plane where she felt secure and Leslie and I got to spread out a bit. Rick was wedged in so tightly that he was unable to look back to see us. I made sure Rick was in a humorous mood before I showed him these two photos!
Ample Space on the flight for Fran, Leslie, and Winnie! (feeling a wee bit guilty about all the space!)
One of the people who lives in Stehekin year round is Karl, the man who, year after year, plants and produces the best organic vegetables in his Stehekin Garden. In addition to vegetables and fruit, he sells honey, candles made from his bees’ wax, dried herbs and teas, goat cheese made from his goats, whole wheat crackers, muffins, granola made with his honey, salad dressings, and pesto made from his homegrown basil. Every time we arrive at the cabin, I make a dash for his garden to see what vegetables and fruits are available. This time around I bought organic nectarines, peaches, blueberries, beets, carrots, cucumbers, tomatoes, green beans, and a muffin! When I arrived at the garden, I was greeted by barefooted slender Karl. His earthy wholehearted hugs are most welcoming. His vegetable garden is fringed with dahlias and other beautiful flowers which, he is quick to tell you, he does NOT sell.
Karl’s dahlias, after a much-needed morning rain shower, are nearly smiling. We were at Karl’s when it started to rain. We sat under the eaves with Karl and waited until the rain let up.
Hope you like dahlias because there are many in this blog!
One of Karl’s bees busily pollinating a dahlia.
During the winter months, Stehekin is covered in snow. Karl’s garden and goats rest in the winter and Karl spends his winter days cross country skiing, meditating, doing yoga, reading various books, and writing. You can see his spirit-infused writing on various white boards at the garden.
Health is Wealth, written by Karl
A bearded Rick talking books, poetry, nature with Karl at the garden.
Inner Peace by Karl
Leslie and I took a hike to the Buckner Orchard and to Rainbow Falls. This is our favorite hike to do on our first day in Stehekin. We saw so many deer in the apple orchard on this day.
Long Term Parking at the Buckner Orchard
Winnie takes in a long drink at Rainbow Falls.
Like Cuba, Stehekin has trucks and cars that have been around for a while and still running. In order to get a car here, it has to be barged over as was this 1967 Chevy back in the day. I was looking at some of Leslie’s old photos from years ago and noted that today the Forest Green ’67 Chevy Truck looks almost identical to how it looked back then.
The Cannon’s 1957 Chevy.
Winnie, ready to hike!
Another favorite hike is the Lakeside Trail, along Lake Chelan. The trail starts near the landing and goes on and on towards Chelan. It is a rolling trail with a constant view of Lake Chelan. Parts of the forest have been victim to forest fires and as we hiked we saw blackened trees that have survived past fires as well as charred stumps that were not so lucky.
As we stopped for lunch at a bluff overlooking the lake, Leslie was pulling some items out of her backpack and came across her favorite poem, Lost. She always carries this poem with her and from time to time, on our hikes, she reads it aloud. I asked her to read it on this hike. I am always moved by this poem. The name of this blog post, The Forest Breathes, comes from this poem. She reads it so perfectly:
Stand still. The trees ahead and bushes beside you
Are not lost. Wherever you are is called Here,
And you must treat it as a powerful stranger,
Must ask permission to know it and be known.
The forest breathes. Listen. It answers,
I have made this place around you.
If you leave it, you may come back again, saying Here.
No two trees are the same to Raven.
No two branches are the same to Wren.
If what a tree of a bush does is lost on you,
You are surely lost. Stand still. The forest knows
Where you are. You must let it find you.
David Wagoner was Rick’s professor for the MFA program at the University of Washington. We went to a reading and heard Wagoner read his poem, Lost. He prefaced the poem by telling us that he never imagined this poem would be so well received! Wagoner still seemed to be in disbelief that this very poem is the favorite of many outdoor enthusiasts, including Leslie and myself.
Burnt trees from fires past.
Another hike: Agnes Creek Trail
View of Agnes Gorge
Well, since our fisherman, Rick, caught a 19 inch trout (!!!), he decided to join Leslie and me on this morning’s half hour steep hike up to a viewpoint. From our viewpoint, we had the best view of the Stehekin Valley.
View of the Stehekin Valley
Rick’s prized trout, was dinner tonight! We brought it back to Chelan with us and Timothy grilled it with rosemary and lemon slices. Four of us feasted on the best trout ever! Here it is below, about to be grilled.