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Holden Village offers faith-based backpacking, trail work

BACKPACKING — Holden Village, a Lutheran camp above Lake Chelan near the boundary of the Glacier Peak Wilderness , is offering a new summer program,  “Holden On The Trail,” which combines backpacking with study and volunteer trail maintenance in partnership with the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest.
Sign up by the end of this week for any of six sessions, each about one week, planned accommodate multiple hiking skill levels. Depending on the session, hikers will cover 18.5 to 39 miles and volunteer between eight to 16 hours of trail maintenance during the week.
Cost is $350 for the six-night sessions, and $370 for one seven night outing. The fee covers food, program and major gear, including sleeping bags, backpacks, stoves and tents.
Each hiking group will include nine participants and three Holden staffers who are experienced hikers.
The staff will include a pastor, teaching staff member and leader trained in wilderness first aid and trail maintenance. Worship and teaching topics may include theology and religion, ecology and environment, health and wellness, global studies and politics, and visual arts.
Download applications and submit by Friday, (July 12). Follow the link under the events menu.
Read on for a list of the scheduled hikes:

Hungry bear causes closure of Lake Chelan backcountry campsite

CAMPING — A backcountry campground near the head of Lake Chelan has been closed indefinitely because of a black bear that was lured by the taste of food and garbage left unsecured by visitors.

The National Park Service announced Thursday that Tumwater Campground, located about 12 miles from Stehekin Landing, is closed until further notice.

A bear received a “substantial food reward” when it got into a garbage can at the primitive campsite on Monday, the agency said. Though the can has been removed, the bear is expected to return to the campground to look for more food.

The nearby High Bridge Campground will also be monitored by park staff to make sure the bear does not go there in search of an easy meal.

The agency said that a camp closure of two to three weeks in generally enough to convince a bear that there is no more food there.

Nordic skiing free at Echo Ridge

WINTER SPORTS –The Chelan Ranger District is offering free cross country skiing, snowshoeing or hiking at Echo Ridge Nordic Ski Area.

Trail grooming, conducted by the Lake Chelan Nordic Club, has ended for the year, but many trails still have enough snow for skiing, a U.S. Forest Service news release said Thursday.

Travelers should be prepared for snow, ice or mud on the Forest Service roads.

Info: Chelan Ranger District, (509) 682-4900.

  • MOUNT SPOKANE nordic skiing trails were groomed this week but grooming has stopped until the snow on the mountain freezes again — likely not until Sunday night, park rangers say. Sno-Park permits are required.

Record mackinaw handled like a baby

FISHING — Getting a record fish weighed and verified isn't as easy as one might think.  Certified scales are rare. Fish quickly begin loosing ounces after they are killed. 

Phil Coylar of Wenatchee got some great advice as he came to the dock at Lake Chelan with a mackinaw he knew was a state-record candidate on Monday: Head for the local hospital, a fishing guide told him.

Luckily the hospital staff was as excited about his fish as he was.

Click continue reading for the story from the Wenatchee World.

Pending state record mackinaw landed at Lake Chelan

FISHING — A 35-pound, 10-ounce pending state record lake trout was caught Monday in Lake Chelan by Phil Colyar of Wenatchee, according to a report on Northwestern Outdoors Radio.

The current official state record mackinaw also was caught in Lake Chelan — a 35-pound, 7-ounce fish caught in 2001.

Colyar, a Spokane native, told The Spokesman-Review this morning that he cut his teeth on fishing at Spokane County lakes before moving to an angler's paradise, where he takes full advantage of the upper Columbia salmon and steelhead runs and Lake Chelan's underrated lake trout fishery.

Fast facts:

The fish: 35 pound, 10 ounce lake trout (or Mackinaw).
Tale of the tape: 44.5 inches long, 28-inch girth.
The angler: Phil Colyar, 56, of Wenatchee. Colyar moved to Wenatchee in 1983 from his native Spokane, where he was graduated from Shadle Park High School. (His wife, Carrie, was a graduate of Mead High School.) The Colyars own a jewelry store in Wenatchee.
Date Caught / Location: Feb. 4, 2013 at Lake Chelan, near the Yacht Club.
Tactics: Trolling a newly bought U20 MPPT (Purple and Pink) Flatfish. Depth: 270 feet.
Other Gear: Lamiglas 8 1/2 foot rod, Abu Garcia Level Wind Reel, Maxima 18-pound line.

Kayakers lose interest, options at Chelan Gorge

 PADDLING – Kayakers have largely bailed on a special event just for them.

Whitewater kayak events through the exhilarating but short Chelan River Gorge will become a once yearly rather than four-times yearly event as interest among expert boaters has declined, Chelan County PUD commissioners learned this week.

The PUD and American Whitewater hope the once-a-year release of water from Lake Chelan through the gorge will lead to a more consistent kayaker turnout.

The new plan calls for a water release this year on Sept. 15 and 16 regardless of how many kayakers sign up.

Only about a quarter-mile long, but treacherous with Class 4, 5 and 6 whitewater during spill events, the gorge is navigable only by expert boaters.

The PUD’s federal license to operate Lake Chelan Dam originally ordered four annual releases of water through the gorge for white-water recreation, two in July and two in September. The change comes after a 3-year study revealed not enough interest among boaters to justify four events.

In July, kayakers are spread out among many Northwest rivers, said Thomas O’Keefe, American Whitewater’s Pacific Northwest spokesman.

Even if enough kayakers showed up to run the gorge, Lake Chelan water levels were sometimes low enough in mid summer that it was impossible to release water, PUD officials said.

Flow will be increased to 375 cfs on Sept 15 and to 400 cfs on Sept. 16.

Boaters must register online prior to the event.

Years of cleanup planned at Holden Mine above Lake Chelan

FORESTS — Backpackers passing through the Holden Village area between the Glacier Peak Wilderness and Lake Chelan will continue to seek a lot of heavy equipment activity during the environmental cleanup o fthe Holden Mine.

Federal agencies gave the formal OK to the project this week. The remedy focuses on the cleanup of hazardous substances, at levels toxic to aquatic life, in the mine ground water and mine drainage being released into nearby Railroad Creek. 

“Major construction in Phase I of the cleanup remedy should begin in 2013, and should take two years followed by five years of monitoring before Phase II of remedy construction will begin,” Holden Mine Cleanup Project Manager Norm Day said.

Echo Ridge nordic ski area opens above Lake Chelan

WINTER SPORTS — The recent snow fall was just what the Chelan Ranger District needed to officially open the Echo Ridge Ski Area for cross country skiing and snow shoeing.

All but one of the area's trails are packed and tracked, giving skiers and snowshoers access to 25 miles of routes, some of which offer a high overlook of Lake Chelan.

Day passes cost $10 per adult and dcan be purchased at the trailhead. There's no charge for skiers or snowshoers age 17 and under.

Season passes are $70 at the Chelan Ranger District office in Chelan, (509) 682-4900.

See access info and grooming updates here.

Chelan macks produce; Upper Columbia salmon spotty

SALMON FISHING — The latest observations on upper Columbia salmon fishing from Anton Jones of Darrell & Dad's Family Guide Service include a digression to point out that mackinaw fishing continues to be great at Lake Chelan, as one can see above in the form of a 21 pounder in the hands of Jolene Rhoads of Spangle.

Meantime, “Salmon fishing on the Upper Columbia has been spotty at best,” Jones said.

“Everything we have heard indicates that the lack of a thermal barrier at the mouth of the Okanogan River has made for very slow salmon fishing. Below Wells Dam, it has been a bit better, but the inconsistent releases from the dam have played hobb with our fishing.”

Mariners can really score — when fishing for lake trout

FISHING — A group of players and friends from the Seattle Mariners took advantage of the All Star break to catch a nice pile of Lake Chelan mackinaw on July 11.

 At left, Aaron Laffey of the Mariners caught with the big fish of the day, an 18.6-pound laker.

The group fished with Anton Jones (the short guy above) of Darrell & Dad's Family Guide Service.

“What still continues red hot is trolling for big lake trout on the Lake Chelan “Bar” early in the morning,” Jones said.  “We are trolling for those Mackinaw in depths of 120 to 150 feet on the Bar just out from the Mill Bay boat launch.  The uplake half of that piece of structure has been absolutely loaded with quality fish the past few weeks.  This pattern has been solid for over a month. 

“We have had consistent success pulling T4 and U20 flatfish in Purple Glow at 1.2 to 1.5 mph.  Mack’s Lures Cha Cha Squidders in glow colors with a purple blade also worked fine.  Additionally Silver Horde’s Ace Hi Fly in glow colors baited with a strip of Northern Pikeminnow also worked great. 

“Don’t forget that you can add an Action Disk from Wigglefin.com to give all those squid rigs a bit of a different action.  Big Smile Blades from Mack’s Lures are another fine choice. 

“Although early and late in the day continue to be best, we have caught nice numbers of fish throughout the day.” 

North Cascades hikers limited by snow

BACKPACKING — A group of Western Washington University students found plenty of snow-free landscape for backpacking and camping up the Stehekin Valley from Lake Chelan last week.

Portions of the Pacific Crest Trail in North Cascades National Park were snow-free and easy cruising, they said. 

But as the photo above shows, they didn't have to go too high to find snow still clogging the routes.

Be patient out there.

Hikers negotiating Lake Chelan Trail washout

BACKPACKING — The big lingering snowpack and advent of warmer, wet weather is raising the pucker factor for any backpackers heading out on routes that cross streams.

A point I missed in my Sunday story about hiking the Lake Chelan Shoreline Trail is  that rising creeks have caused some trail damage. Over the May 14-15 weekend, rainwater flowed through the Meadow Creek drainage, washing out a section of the Lakeshore Trail.

Experienced hikers can still get through this area by hiking down close to the lake, crossing the creek and hiking back up to the trail, the Forest Service reports.  But the difficulty could change daily with the weather and the amount of runnoff coming down the creek.

Hikers looking for easier access to the Lakeshore Trail can plan trips between Stehekin and Moore Point to avoid the Meadow Creek area.

Updates: Chelan Ranger Station, (509) 682-4900.


Higher water boosts hiking, allows Lake Chelan ferry to sail

BOATING — The recent rain and increased snow melt brought good news for boat users and Lake Chelan recreationists.  The Lake Chelan water level is now rising which will make public docks more accessible in and allow the Lady of the Lake to shuttle hikers to lakeshore trailheads.

Read on for details just released by the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest.

Park Service looking for new manager for Stehekin Lodge

You too can run a lodge in the beautiful Lake Chelan area.

The National Park Service is looking for bids from people interested in running the Shehekin Landing Resort, also known as Stehekin Lodge, on the headwaters of Lake Chelan in north central Washington.

On Oct. 4, people who have a hankering can tour the site and look over the concession facilities. The event requires advance registration, arranged by calling (509) 682-4921 no later than noon, Friday Oct. 1.

The goal is to find a facility operator who will focus on resort services for the peak summer months, with the option of maintaining the facility for the full year.

The current operators, Cliff and Robbie Courtney, don’t plan to rebid. The National Park Service is asking for a 10-year contract for the lodge.

For more information on the Stehekin opportunity, go to http://www.nps.gov/commercialservices.