Day 158: Take a shortcut or two?

Thurs. 9/24/13
26.1 miles (Miles 2544.5 – 2570.6)
Vista Creek – Cedar Camp

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Please clouds... don't drop rain...

Today left us with decisions, but I found them fairly easy. Today was the day we had to cross the infamous Suiattle River. We had choices as to how we wanted to cross it, too. This was our biggest decision of the day.

Choice one was to take the old PCT route, which is a whopping five miles shorter (no sarcasm there… five is a pretty big deal). The catch to this choice is twofold. First, it’s no longer the PCT, which really isn’t a big of a deal since it’s the original PCT (in my opinion, anyway. These topics tend to be a little controversial out here). Second, crossing the Suiattle on this route is known to be dangerous. There is a log that apparently can be quite slippery that most hikers butt-scoot across. It’s a drop into a deep, cold, swift current if one were to fall. With temps in the low 40’s, and a river sweeping you downstream with a backpack on, a fall here could mean a seriously life-threatening situation. So… naturally I felt excited about the idea of giving it a shot… oooh, danger… risk… fun… however, I know Tears absolutely did not want anything to do with crossing a river on a log when our other choice had a bridge. Besides, I haven’t strayed from the official route much this whole time, and the bridge crossing would be much simpler and safer. Our decision was easy. We went with choice two – take the new, official PCT route. Even though it’s five miles longer, it has a huge, sturdy, very new bridge over the Suiattle River. It was a wonderful, easy trail to get there, and the bridge was awesome. We even took a break on it.

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Beautiful bridge over the Suiattle River on the new PCT route between Skykomish and Stehekin.

Our next decision was whether or not to take a shortcut that would knock another four miles off of our day. I guess the shortcut brought you down into the valley and followed a river, while the PCT wound up over a pass and along a ridge. Again, not having any great reason to take a shortcut, we chose the PCT. A few took it for good reason – one was in a lot of pain and the terrain seemed more mellow, and it’s shorter, of course. Others needed to catch an early bus to Stehekin to get their resupply maildrop from the post office before they close. This route alleviated some pressure to hike crazy miles to get there on time.

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Very colorful trail heading into more mountainous terrain on the ridge we hiked.

So we just took the PCT all day, like normal. Tears and I hiked with Razor for most of the day today, and it’s been really great getting to know him better. He has a lot to do in Stehekin tomorrow, so we pushed out a tough 26 miles to put him in position to possibly catch the 9am bus. He plans to leave camp at 4am! Tears and I will shoot for the noon bus, so we don’t have to leave until our normal time at 7am. I’m excited to see Stehekin. It’s a town you can’t get to by car. The bus goes from the trail to a bakery, then town, but the road stops at the trail. There’s a four-hour ferry from the town of Chelan, but other than by trail or ferry, you’d have to fly in. It sounds really cool. I’m mostly excited to get food. Of all kinds. I’ve got a trail breakfast for tomorrow and two snacks that I saved, and I’m already hungry. I just didn’t pack enough  food for this stretch… I feel pretty dumb about it, too. Oh, well. I’ll make it just fine, I’ll just be drooling all over that bakery when I arrive and I hope to shove a donut in my face as soon as I can. Followed by brewed coffee… and maybe a sticky bun. Or two. And maybe another donut. Mmm, cream-filled.

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The sky totally cleared for a little bit today.

Anyway… it should be a good day. If Adam braved the long ferry ride, he might be there, too. I hope to see him, but if not tomorrow, I’ll see him Sunday when we resupply at Rainy Pass. Our plans for these last two sections are a little crazy, and we will base decisions mostly on weather. We heard from a southbounder today that rain is in the forecast for the next three days. We’ll see how it goes.

Less than 100 miles to go! Aaah! Crazy!


Tonight I love my rain gear. My pants keep me warm and ventilate with a full-length zipper from the hip so I don’t have to change during the day when there’s on-and-off rain. They are probably my favorite piece of gear for Washington. My jacket also keeps me warm… and dry in a downpour. It’s been a good combo and it’s keeping me fairly comfy in this crazy weather.

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A super-huge tree.

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Blueberry pastry? Nope... just another mushroom!

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Rain... we dodged a lot of rain clouds today, but this one sprinkled us for about a half an hour.

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Broken bridge... but still kept us dry!

Thanks for reading and being a part of my journey!

With love,
Toots Magoots
(Robin Grapa)

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