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Lake Chelan History Notes, 1974

Lake Chelan History Notes, Vol. 2, No. 1, Spring 1974, p. 27 - Hessey, Charles, "Winter at Lyman Lake"

"Not long after the Chelan Dam was constructed in 1926-27, a log cabin was built by Washington Water Power Company at Lyman Lake near the head of Railroad Creek. Although it was primarily intended for the winter use of the annual snow survey crews trekking into that area, the cabin has also provided welcome shelter for many thousands of hikers who have visited the Lyman Glacier-Cloudy Pass region over the past forty-five years." This article consists of excerpts from the cabin logbook entries made by Charles Hessey during April ski vacations there in 1946, 1947, and 1948.

In 1946, Hessey and three friends arrived on April 6. Entries for April 7 and 8 mention tours to North Star Park and the Lyman Glacier. After April 8, four pages of the logbook were cut out, so the remaining entries are missing.

In 1947, Hessey and four friends stayed at the cabin from March 31 through April 16. Grant McConnell left on April 8 and Bill Degenhardt left on April 12. The remaining three skiers left on April 17 because they were out of food. Their plan was to head for Stehekin where more supplies were waiting, then spend a week or so in the vicinity of Cascade Pass "roughing it" in a nylon tent. They would return to Yakima by May 1st. On April 11, Hessey wrote: "I know that too much is said and written about one 'peerless region' or other, but it is my studied and wholly sincere opinion that the views from North Star on a clear winter day are the equal of any, for beauty, in the world."

In 1948, Hessey arrived on April 26. For the second year in a row, his group sent in food for five people in autumn via Guy Imus and his horses. But this year, business and domestic difficulties forced cancellation of plans for everyone but him. So he came alone. It was a stormy year and he experienced snowfall for twenty-two days in a row until May 16, when it rained. On May 2, the snow conditions were perfect. "A wish would swing you," he wrote. Other comments: "Darned if I've ever seen anything like this so late in the year. [...] This is April weather, not May." Concerning his ambition to ski the Chickamin Glacier on this trip, he writes:

Many of my young friends don't realize that it's possible to grow tired of just plain skiing. I like a little adventure with mine--in fact the word skiing connotes something to me besides simply sliding down hill all day on a packed slope. That, it seems to me, is the least part of skiing, and skiers who do nothing else, who never venture off their safely designated, prepared areas, are like--well, like voluntarily caged birds, whose wings do them small good; or perhaps like a man who, having heard only a peanut whistle, says "I know and enjoy good music." If this range in its present unexplored (winter) state were set down in the middle of Europe the people would go wild with joy. The Alps have been criss-crossed with ski trails from end to end for lo! these many years. Here we have made only a very small beginning--and so few skiers in this region realize that they have been born into a time and situation that will make them the envy of the future..."
Hessey left the cabin for the Chickamin Glacier at 5:40 am on the morning of May 17. The editor writes: "At the time he didn't know that the conditions he experienced--a late cold spring with lots of snowfall, followed by sudden warming and rain--had set the stage for the worst runoff and river flooding since the High Water of 1894!"

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