Thursday, July 2, 2015

Trip to Lucerne Guard Station

This last week, Craig and I traveled to the Lucerne Guard Station located off of Lake Chelan to visit Craig's grandparents who are volunteers for the Forest Service there.

     The first leg of the trip was a long card ride to Wenatchee, through Entiat and into Chelan. For entertainment in the car, we listened to the book Wild by Cheryl Strayed, which is about the author's experience of hiking the Pacific Crest Trail alone with inadequate preparation. It was super interesting, and I almost didn't want to leave the car because I wanted to finish hearing the story. But Craig and I had our own adventure ahead.

      The first night, we pitched a tent at the 25 mile creek camp campground. We roasted smores on a campfire made from fallen twigs and bark we found next to our tent. We also made friends with two practically domesticated ducks I named Mr. and Mrs. Quackers. That night, to satisfy my audiobook cravings, me and Craig read to each other.

     We woke up with the sun, at about 5:30 am. After breakfast and packing up, we headed out to the dock to meet the boat that would take us down to the guard station. The boat is called Lady of the Lake, and it travels up and down Lake Chelan daily.

     The boat was surprising full of passengers. At first, along the lake, there large vacation homes scattered along the coast, but with time there were fewer and fewer houses until after about 30 min or so, there were none. After two hours, it was clear that no one lived so far out. 
     We were the first major stop, and the boat dropped us off at the Lucerne landing. There was about a dozen other people who got off at this landing. They were headed up the road 13 miles to Holden Village, which is a secluded retreat center. There is no road access to Holden, so the only way to get there is by private plane or boat.
     Craig's mom and grandparents were there to greet us off the boat. They then took us to the Lucerne Guard Station, a two-bedroom house along the lake. There was generator at the house to provide electricity but his grandparents only use it when doing laundry, and we really never used any electricity the entire trip.

View of the Lucerne guard station. We pitched our tent in this grassy area in front of the house.

     The first thing Craig's dad showed us when we got to the house were hummingbirds that perched on sugar-water feeders hanging from the back porch. In the early morning and during dinner time, there would be maybe 20 little birds buzzing between feeders. There was one large, orange hummingbird in particular that guarded one of the feeders and would squeak at any other bird that tried to fly by. The bird was obviously a male haha and was defending his feeder. Craig's dad was able to get the birds to perch on his fingers.

View from the Guard Station's porch. 

    The day after we arrived, Craig's grandpa led us 3 miles upwards to Domke Lake. The trail was well kept, and flat. On the way up, I noticed a guy running the trail, and it looked like potential fun. When we made it to Domke Lake, we met a man name Sid, who owned the land around the Lake, including a couple of cabins that he rents out. He let us take one of the boats onto the water. We drove around the perimeter of lake and met an eagle who just sat on a branch and watched us float on by. 
The dock on Domke Lake. The water was extremely clear, and calm, with no one else within 10 miles of this location.

An eagle and its nest
     After we made the descent back to the guard station, I was very muddy and tired.  I figured it was then the perfect time to try swimming in Lake Chelan! The water was super cold, but after a few minutes my body got numb, and I was able to spend maybe 15 minutes in the water at a time. I returned to the water maybe three times a day. It was nearing 100 degrees during the day, so these swims gave me a reprieve from the heat, and I remained cold from the water for maybe an hour after each swim.
     There were dozens of large fish in the water, that were not really afraid of humans, and I swear they would swim right up to me. It was actually kind of scary to me. I never knew I had a fear of swimming with the fishes.

Swimming in the wonderfully freezing Lake Chelan
     That night after dinner, for my birthday, Craig's family surprised me with pineapple cupcakes, balloons and gifts (including cans of Sardines and Smokey the Bear pencils and a ruler haha). I was definitely not expecting anything for my birthday. Apparently they cupcakes were baked by his mom and grandma while we were on the hike. The trip was definitely a great way to begin my next year as a 25 year-old. That night before bed Craig listed 25 reasons he loves me :) 
     The next morning, I talked Craig into running up the trail to Domke Lake. He carried three water bottles in his backpack during the run! We didn't make it all the way up. The uphill portion was much more intense than I expected, and I wasn't feeling great, so we decided to turn around after the half-way point. It was still a very beautiful run, one which very few people have experienced, and I enjoyed it immensely. 

Running down the trail, across an overlook of Lake Chelan.

And  running through the woods.
      The next two days I spent reading Hunger Games (there was a copy left at the station and I was determined to finish it before leaving), talking with friends and family on the porch while watching the humming birds buzz around, and of course swimming in the lake. Work never even crossed my mind.
     The afternoon of our departure, I almost felt like crying, I was so sad to be leaving Craig's grandparents and their secluded home. But alas, we had to return to our own home.
     We road Lady of the Lake back to Chelan, threw our bags back into Craig's car, and drove towards Wenatchee. I was thankful for the air conditioning. Outside it was 110 degrees. At Wenatchee, we grabbed a smorgasbord of snacks to eat in the car for dinner, and continued home. That night, a beautiful sunset was visible from the back seat. A gorgeous ending to a gorgeous trip.