Chillin’ at Lake Chelan

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My wife and I spent most of last week on Lake Chelan in the state of Washington.

Lake Chelan is a beautiful, narrow, 55-mile-long lake in north central Washington, west of the Columbia River.

We were guests of our niece and nephew, who have a long-term U.S. Forest Service lease on a chunk of shore with three small buildings.

Their place is accessible only by boat, so we loaded our stuff into their 23-foot Chaparral inboard at 25-Mile State Park and headed north.

Strong winds and floating logs, seemingly oft-found features of Lake Chelan, made us cautious.

Lake Chelan is the third-deepest lake in the country, nearly 1,500 feet deep halfway across the lake from their dock. So deep that the bottom 500 feet are below sea level.

And deep water is cold water. Water temperature was 55 degrees, contributing to the lake’s nickname, Lake Chillin’.

The unincorporated community of Stehekin, with 75 residents and also accessible only by boat, sits at the northernmost end of the lake.

Ferries make the trip from Chelan to Stehekin daily in tourist season.

Off the grid, propane drove cooking heat, refrigeration, and outdoor lanterns. Car batteries powered the water pump, water heater, and indoor LED lighting.

A nearby creek provided water. A composting toilet did its job.

Lake Chelan is home to bull trout, lake trout, stocked cutts and rainbows. The Washington state record lake trout (35.63 pounds) was caught in Lake Chelan in 2013.

What about the fishing, you ask?

I didn’t fish, but I saw more trout than I’ve seen this year.

Hatchery trucks dumped two loads of catchable cutthroat into the lake at the boat ramp as we were leaving.

Jerry Smalley’s Fishful Thinking appears weekly in the Hungry Horse News.

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