Ahrens' Camping Adventures

Episode 3: North Cascades Loop; June 23-30, 2002

Day 1: June 23; North Cascades Highway to Winthrop

The North Cascades, encompassing some of the most rugged mountains in the continental US. We crossed, on a sunny day in June (they do happen in the Pacific Northwest). The region gets heavy snowfall every winter, closing the highway usually in November, and opening again in May. The top of Washington Pass, the ground was still stacked with snow.

Nikki looking 
over Gorge Dam and Gorge Lake.

Seattle City Light operates three hydroelectric dams on the Skagit River, including Gorge Dam and Powerhouse, Diablo Dam and Ross Dam. These dams and the lakes behind them make up the Ross Lake Recreation Area, managed by Seattle City Light as part of the North Cascades Recreation Area.

Travelling east through the North Cascades National Park, we came to 4856 ft. high Rainy Pass, then shortly 5477 ft. Washington Pass, where we stopped and played in the snowbanks before winding down the east side into the beautiful Methow Valley and the old western town of Winthrop.

Derry's Resort Family Campground

Derry's Family Resort on Pearygin Lake, Winthrop WA(Day's 1-3)

We spent the first two nights on Pearygin Lake.

The campground is set in a natural background with Cottonwoods and Pines throughout the park. Beware the cottonwoods, if you have alergies.

View across the 

lake with Cascades in background
Across the lake another campground provided foreground to the North Cascades in the distance.

Deer in the 
We saw wildlife in the campground including deer and rabbits. In all, it is a great place to stay and enjoy watersports including fishing, skiing, boating and swimming.

LakeShore RV Park
LakeShore RV Park, Chelan WA(Days 3-6)

Our time at Lake Chelan turned out to be the hottest part of the trip. Tempuratures exceeded 100 degrees F. each day we were there. The LakeShore RV Park, run by the City of Chelan was a nice place to stay with all the amenities of a full service RV park.

What better way to spend a hot day than at a water park? We spent one day enjoying the slides at Slide Waters. It is not a large park, neither is it very expensive. It met the need. And a bus picked us up at the RV park and took us to the water park--and brought us home.

55 mile long Lake Chelan starts uplake deep in the heart of the North Cascades, and ends at the Chelan River in the fertile semi-arid hills of Central Washington. At 1486 feet, it is the third deepest lake in the United States, with almost 400 feet below sea level.

A trip to Chelan requires a trip uplake on one of the boats (or airplane if you prefer) to Stehekin. We took the Lady Express uplake to Stehekin.

View through 
narrows separating the lower lake from upper lake
The lake consists of two basins, the relatively shallow lower lake near Chelan, where the water warms in late summer making it the area for most watersports. Then the much deeper, longer and colder upper lake, which holds some 95% of the water in the lake. This narrow passage separates the two lakes.

Barge hauling
supplies uplake
Since no roads go even halfway uplake, all supplies come into the uplake communities by boat or barge.

mountains surrounding the lake
Rugged mountain peaks surround Lake Chelan, some rising to nearly 8,000 feet above sea level. From the highest peak, to the deepest part of the lake, some three miles away constitutes the deepest gorge in the United States.

Lady Cat speeds 

The Lady Cat, the fastest boat on the lake, speeds by uplake to Stehekin.

The Lady Express approaches the Stehekin Landing at the end of the trip uplake.

North Cascades 
National Park Entrance
We took a guided tour up to High Bridge over the Stehekin River.

The High Bridge over the Stehekin River.

Rainbow Falls through the trees.

John & Nikki 
Ahrens in front of an old Forest Service Truck
The Forest Service doesn't use this truck any more.

Old Stehekin
This schoolhouse was used up until quite recently.

Lady of the 
Lake II at Stehekin Landing
The Lady of the Lake II ready to take us on a leisurely trip back downlake.


Lakes Park and Resort

Sun Lakes Resort

But First
Dry Falls State

Dry Falls is one of the Geologic wonders of the world. During the later period of the last Ice age, a massive lake formed in western Montana which then burst through an ice dam in northern Idaho releasing water through down the Columbia river basin at speeds up to 60 miles per hour, a flow 10 times all of the rivers in the world. In the process it plunged over the 350 foot cliffs of Dry Falls, hardly leaving a ripple on the surface of the water. For more info see:

The 350 feet 
high 3 mile wide Dry falls and lake.
The Dry Falls, 350 feet high and 3 miles wide, when water poured over the edge here, a mere ripple on the surface showed the passing.

A basin carved 
into the cliffs
The rushing water left it's mark on the face of Eastern Washington, including this basin in the edge of the falls.

The shoreline 
of the lake at the base of the falls. The shoreline of the lake at the base of the falls.

Sun Lakes State Park

Sun Lakes State park caters to watersports; fishing, swimming, water skiing and boating. Although the weather can climb into triple digits regularly, making the water very attractive, all the time we were there it was windy or rainy. So the lake was too rough for our inexperienced use of our inflatable kayak.

Swimming area 
at Sun Lakes State Park
The Swimming area.

Lake shore with 
hills behind
The lake shore with the hills behind.