Stehekin, located at the western end of Lake Chelan and abutting North Cascades National Park, contains a handful of inhabitants, a couple of lodges and more character than most cities. The Valley winds along the Stehekin River, before climbing into Glacier Peak Wilderness with access to the Pacific Crest Trail. You can’t help but channel Thoreau when you settle into a cabin at Stehekin Valley Ranch, especially when every night, like the famous Walden transcendentalist, one dines upon freshly baked pies from the Stehekin Pastry Company. (Ralph Waldo Emerson’s daughter delivered Henry David’s daily desserts.) Make sure you saddle up and climb through ponderosa pines to Coon Lake and don’t forget to work in a hike through Agnes Gorge.
Sonora Resort, Desolation Sound B.C.
Witnessing 200 bald eagles feast on the hake rise requires a 15-minute boat transport from Sonora, but there remains plenty of theatre from the Relais & Chateau Sonora Resort. The upper deck hovers beside executive chef Terry Pichor’s kitchen and wine cellar. Less than fifty yards away, the harbour seals utilize the formidable flow spilling from Dent Rapids to capture fish slowed by the strong head currents. A fleet of Grady White cruiser-style fishing boats lines the dock, awaiting voyage to find resident Coho, Sockeye, Pink and Chinook salmon. Guests can catch over 1,000 pounds during the week, each fish cleaned and filleted at dockside cleaning tables. This afternoon ritual isn’t lost on the seal and eagle neighbours, who arrive to indulge in a happy hour menu comprised of fish heads and tails.