Installment 2 of our day hike suggestions for your stay in the Stehekin Valley (and at our Ranch of course!). The following suggestions fall into the “Moderate” category. More elevation, and more views, but still not overly strenuous.
Rainbow Loop Trail – This trail falls into the easy to moderate category. There are 2 trailheads for this hike. You must hike a bit of the road in order to complete the “loop”, but most people simply start at the Upper trailhead, and come out at the Lower trailhead, which is conveniently located about 1/2 mile from the bakery where they can get an ice cream cone and wait for the next bus to bring them back to the Ranch. The upper end of the trail is mostly wooded – quite nice as you are hiking uphill! You will cross a bridge about halfway – this is Rainbow Creek. From here on out you will get many view points looking out across the Stehekin Valley. Looking straight down, you will see Buckner Orchard, and off to the left is Lake Chelan. As an optional extension, you can branch off onto the main Rainbow Creek Trail a mile or so and get some more great views as you go up. Easy-Moderate 4.5 miles with viewpoints of the Stehekin Valley and Lake Chelan.
McGregor Mountain Lite – This trail is the one for those looking to get some elevation and spectacular views of the North Cascades mountain range. It is 7 miles of uphill trail to get to the summit (stay tuned for our next installment if you are looking to summit), but the great thing about this trail is that you don’t have to go to the top to enjoy some fabulous views. As you head up, you will pass Coon Lake about 1 mile in. This is a beautiful alpine lake. Keep going past the lake and you will come to the McGregor Trail turnoff. As you continue up, you’ll start getting some great views about another mile from the lake. The farther up you go, the more you will be able to see, but you can turn around at any time. Regardless of how far you go, this hike is well worth the effort on a clear day! Difficult, but with Moderate options for those not wanting to summit, 14 miles RT to summit, many viewpoints
We had over an inch of rain last night, and it was a very welcome blessing! While the fire is not out, the rain has suppressed it quite a bit, making it much easier for firefighters to get in and surround it.
The valley floor and structures are no longer in immediate threat. The Ranch has continued to stay completely clear of the fire.
There is still some cloud cover in the area, and temperatures are in the mid 70’s.
River rafting, horseback riding and kayak tours are still available, and most trails in the area are still open. The Bakery is still open as well!
On Wednesday, as the barge made its way slowly up Lake Chelan, it had a special load strung down the middle. Approximately 20 horses were taking their annual cruise back to Stehekin!
The Ranch pasture is now full of little Norwegian Fjord ponies, chowing down on their morning meal. It is starting to feel like summer is really coming now! Less than a month until we open our doors for another great season!
PS. THE BAKERY OPENS TODAY! – The Stehekin Pastry Co. is opening today, and will be open on weekends until mid June when it opens full time. Guess where I will be for lunch….
With the days slowing down, and the tourist traffic dwindling away for the winter, the wildlife are starting to show up here in the valley. I went down to Buckner Orchard today, to see who I could find. I saw 2 bucks and a doe munching on the fallen apples. Their winter coats are thickening up, and they were enjoying the chow too much to be afraid of me.
Next, I went down to the Lake, where I found some beautiful swans. They have been coming every winter here for a while now, and it is always fun to go see how many you can count out there. They just arrived a week or 2 ago, so they are not out in full force yet, but I spotted 9 so far. Last year there were almost 30!
With elk season being over, I’m told they are roaming the upper valley now. Logan spotted about 12 in his headlights as he pulled into the Ranch the other night. Hopefully I’ll be able to get a picture soon and post that. Elk are truly stunning to look at!
Mark saw a bobcat, and several dogs have found some local skunks. The squirrels are busy as ever, and there are always all sorts of birds out on the water of the Lake this time of year. With less people around to bother them, all the critters of the forest come on out, and it sure is fun to see them!
It is true that owls are common around these parts. Hearing one at night is not an uncommon occurance. And from time to time, you may even see a set of those big yellow eyes following you as you go for a “midnight stroll”.
What is not common, is to see one in the daylight. A few days ago, I saw just that! I was getting ready to take down the electric fence for the winter at the Bakery Corrals, and sure enough, big as life, there was a Great Horned Owl just sitting there on the rail!
I have to admit I was slightly startled to see him just sitting there. Not that he was particularly scary. Just that he didn’t really belong there. You know how unexpected things can throw you off? It was like that. But after I got past that, I decided he was really quite neat!
Now, here is the truly amazing part. He sat there, calm as can be while I ran to my house (right next door), grabbed my camara, and came back to take his picture! He followed me with those big yellow eyes – it really is amazing how far they can turn their heads! He let me get real close to him though, which was great, because I don’t have a telephoto lens.
He finally decided he didn’t really like me getting in his space, and hopped down off the rail. He didn’t look quite so calm after that, but he still didn’t fly off. I decided to leave him alone, but still had to deal with taking down the fence, which meant I was still “following” him as he hopped away along the fence that I was taking down. I have no idea why he didn’t just fly off. Maybe he was injured, although I didn’t see any noticeable signs of that. Eventually he did disappear, and I was left to finish my work before it snowed…