September and October are good months to visit the Lake Chelan area. Temperatures are cooler, fall color will be showing and new snow hasn’t cut off the best trails.
Hikers still have miles to roam, although right now the roaming should be done on the north shore, not the south.
The stubborn Domke Complex fire continues to burn there, closing trails and campgrounds, causing the evacuation of Holden Village Retreat Center and Lucerne, threatening but not burning the historic Domke cabin and blackening a stretch of shoreline for several miles near Lucerne.
The lightning-caused fire started early in August and was an 8,066-acre fire about nine miles from Stehekin as of Thursday afternoon, although not threatening the hamlet.
“The fire is expected to burn itself out. They see it ending quickly,” said Katherine Vague, fire communications coordinator at the Chelan Chamber of Commerce.
The air quality is moderate, according to a Chelan-Douglas County Health District press release: “Individuals with pre-existing heart and lung conditions such as asthma and emphysema, the elderly, and children should limit prolonged outdoor activity.”
“It’s not bad in Stehekin,” Vague said.
The lake is open to recreational and commercial boating. Boaters should stay on the north side when traveling between Twin Harbor and Lucerne.
The following trails are closed: Domke Mountain, Domke Lake, Emerald Park, Mirror Lake, Lower Railroad Creek, Copper Basin, Hart-Lyman Lake and Ten Mile Creek.
Closed campgrounds include Domke Lake, Hatchery, Stuart, Lucerne, Domke Falls and Refrigerator Harbor. Railroad Creek Road, F.S. Road No. 8301 and tributary roads are closed from Lucerne Landing to Holden Village.
Trails out of Stehekin or off the storm-damaged and partially closed Stehekin Road toward the wilderness are safe bets but call first!
Trails on the north side not threatened by fire include:
Lakeshore Trail: Follow the lake with views of water and ridges across the lake. You might see some of the Domke fire or its results. It’s almost 7 miles to Moore Point and 17.2 to Prince Creek. The Lake Chelan Boat Company can pick you up at either site if you make arrangements ahead of time.
Purple Creek Trail: Want one more run to the high country? This trail starts at the Golden West Visitor Center (elevation 1,200 feet) and climbs basically without relief for 7.4 miles to 6,884 feet at Purple Pass. The lower trail passes through typical eastside forest of ponderosa and whitebark pine and Douglas fir before subalpine fir and mountain hemlock rule at higher elevations.
About a half-mile past Purple Pass, Lake Juanita’s larch will turn brilliant gold in the fall. There are several options for the return trip.
Although you should always call ahead to make sure roads and trails that you plan on taking are open, the Domke fire makes it doubly important. A change in wind or sparks flying into fresh fuel is all it takes for the fire to shift.
Call the National Park Service, 509-682-2549, or the U.S. Forest Service, 509-682-2576.
On the book shelf: Isn’t it frustrating to arrive at a scenic view and have the sun in the wrong position to shoot that photograph that will allow family bragging rights? Let Rod Barbee lead you by the hand to get those special shots.
In “The Photographer’s Guide to Puget Sound &Northwest Washington: Where to find Perfect Shots and How to Take Them” ($15, Countryman), Barbee guides photographers to the right approach to dozens of sites.
Whales at Lime Kiln State Park on San Juan Island? He tells when the whales are most likely to be seen, when the light is best, the minimum shutter speed and timing. To shoot the lighthouse, he shares the side with more possibilities, time of day, vantage points, etc.
It’s a very useful book that will shed new light on old favorites.
Columnist Sharon Wootton can be reached at 360-468-3964 or www.songandword.com.