My father spent part of his 20s herding sheep in the high meadows of the Washington Cascade Mountains. Some of the areas he returned to over and over again later in life.
One spot he especially enjoyed was Miner’s Basin above Lake Chelan. In my childhood we camped at 6,400-foot South Navarre Campground many times in the summer and returned to hunt in the fall. When I was very young my father got a trophy-sized mountain goat in Miner’s Basin.
I had not returned to the campground since my mid-teens. Several summers ago, thanks to good friend George, I visited the area again. I was not disappointed. The old horse corral was still standing and the vistas were magnificent.
The visit closed a loop for me. About ten years prior I had driven the 30-mile, mostly dirt road from Manson to a trailhead 2,000 feet below the Campground. It was a sunny morning with the promise of a very hot day.
My goal was to do a 15-mile loop hike to Miners Basin which lies about three miles below and to the northwest of the campground. My memories of the Basin were of an idyllic spot along a creek with many green meadows.
Not knowing what to expect, I began hiking north on the Safety Harbor Creek Trail. Soon I began crossing the side of Nelson Butte before reaching Safety Harbor Creek in about three miles. At that point I passed the Uno Peak Trail on my left, which was the return route of the hike.
After another 1 1/2 miles and over 1,000–feet elevation gain, I turned left on the Summit Trail and continued the steep ascent. At the six-mile mark I turned left onto Uno Peak Trail at Miners Basin. The entire hike so far had been a shock. There had clearly been massive wildfires in the area over the years. The Basin had completely changed since my youth. However, I did see many deer tracks indicating the burned-over area was in a healthy process of rejuvenation.
After enjoying a lunch at an old camping site, I began an easier ascent to the trail summit. Returning on the loop trail, I passed Uno Peak. After a very steep descent, I crossed Safety Harbor Creek and turned right for the relatively easy hike back to the trailhead.
Needless to say, it made for a long day. But, it was great to return to Miners Basin. It brought up special memories of my father, mother, uncles and old hunting partners.