9.6 miles (Miles 2570.6 – 2580.2)
Cedar Camp – High Bridge/Stehekin
It’s getting real. Real scary. Probably 15 people took the ferry out of Stehekin and are done, or hoping the weather forecast improves, or are getting microspikes for their shoes and maybe coming back. Winter is definitely here in the Cascades and it’s causing some of us to make the most difficult decision of this entire trip: to stop hiking less than 100 miles from the border. Most just don’t have the time for more days off, so instead of waiting it out and maybe going back out in miserable weather, they’re deciding to go home to their families. I can’t really blame anyone for that kind of decision.
But me? I have time, and I’m going to hike the PCT northbound until I either hit a wall of snow and have to turn back (and possibly take an alternate road walk), or I get to Monument 78… the Canadian border. I hope for the latter.
This is how this all played out: we woke up and hiked out to High Bridge where a bus comes four times a day to bring hikers into the secluded town of Stehekin. We caught the 12:15pm bus along with Kudu, Soup, Games, Reason, Pony, Alfonzo, T-CoZee, Sensei, and Rotisserie. Bill, the awesome bus driver first stopped at the Ranch and picked up a few vacationers, as well as Atlas, Cuddles, and Fun Size.
We stopped at the bakery next. I’ve heard so much about this bakery. I figured the donuts were really good, but I don’t think they even had a donut. They had waaay better stuff. They had fresh-made pizza, scones, pie, cinnamon rolls, sticky buns, coffee, day-old goods, kuchen, and more that I can’t even remember. It was amazing. We were running on the bus’s schedule, so we were kind of hurried – but those bakery workers were quick and got us all checked out with our loot and on our way. They are definitely used to us coming in starving and crazed. I spent $24 on bakery and can’t wait to eat it all. Apparently a thru-hiker spent $98 there last year… that’s the record. Wow!
Next we stopped at The Garden, where you can buy goat cheese, honey, fruit and some other miscellaneous treats. I bought a huge peach that I plan to eat tomorrow. It was a beautiful place with a huge garden, flowers, veggies and a great little store outside to purchase goodies.
Then we arrived in Stehekin. Hunny Bunny said she saw my name on the list at the post office, but I wasn’t expecting anything. I stopped in, and it turns out I had a surprise package from Just A Bob, who is a hiker that we met earlier in the trip. He’s been following my blog (hi and thank you Just A Bob!). He sent a really nice card, some cash for me, Tears and Hunny Bunny to split, and a Hawaiian shirt for Aloha (it’ll be too small for him, so I’ll wear it!).
Then the hype started swirling around us and making us spin. Snow in the mountains – three whole, huge, dangerous feet of snow. There will be snow down to 2600 feet in elevation, even. 10″ of rain in the next 24 hours, causing possible mudslide and rock slides. Oh, and I guess every inch of rain equals one foot of snow in the mountains… so my quick math says there will be 10 feet of snow somewhere. There will be blizzard snows with no visibility and difficult navigation. Alternates, elevation, passes, bailout points, lack of bailout points, wet socks, shoes, sleeping bags, cold… it was all discussed. How much is true? I don’t have any idea until I hike into and see it, I suppose.
The more that was discussed made me feel more determined to check it out to see what the situation actually is. I won’t be stupid about it… I don’t think… but I can’t quit based on three different weather reports of what might be going on out there. I’m too stubborn. I’ll hike until I hit a wall of snow and see with my own eyes that I can’t go any further. Even if I have to wait a week for the weather to clear, I’m going to give it all I have with the resources I have. Garbage bags on my feet to keep my socks drier? Sure… whatever it takes.
I called Adam from the one satellite phone in town using a calling card and asked him to meet us at Rainy Pass tomorrow night (Saturday) instead of Sunday. We’re taking the first shuttle out, hiking in the predicted miserable downpour for 19 miles, getting in the car with Aloha and going into town for a day until the weather hopefully improves. We’ll be one stretch closer with only about 60 miles left.
This is crazy. I never thought I’d be in Stehekin thinking about this stuff. I thought we were playing it safe finishing in the first week of October. Well, darnit… winter’s early, so here we are. Please pray for friendly weather and safe travels for us and the hikers heading out into this stuff… because here we go again!
Tonight I love the excitement this last stretch is giving us… it’s really getting me pumped up. I just hope it’s fairly smooth sailing.
Thanks for reading and being a part of my journey!