19.1 miles (Miles 2580.2 – 2599.3)
High Bridge/Stehekin – Rainy Pass
The 8am bus out of Stehekin took us back to the trail in the pouring rain. The only way any of us were willing to go out there in this weather was knowing we weren’t going to have to camp in it. We were all going to hike straight through to Rainy Pass on Hwy. 20 and get into town where we could be dry and warm again. I’m really glad we did it this way, because I can’t remember ever being that cold.
Let’s see… the group this time: me, Tears, Cuddles, Fun Size, Delightful, Lionheart, Lighthouse, Atlas, Pony, St. Alfonzo, Games and Reason.
The 19 miles we hiked weren’t really terribly challenging as far as terrain goes, but it wasn’t easy stuff, either. It’s actually funny how I look forward to climbs in this kind of weather – just to get warm. The views we had were okay, but were usually stopped short by clouds. We’d get a peek of a mountain on the other side of a river canyon enough to see snow accumulating up high, then a cloud would move in and hide it again. We had a few river crossings, which really didn’t matter much. We all had completely soaked feet, so slipping a foot in didn’t matter anyway. In fact, sometimes the water from the streams felt warmer than the water already in our shoes. A few just skipped the dainty rock-hopping and trudged right through. The trails were muddy and lined with flowing water in spots, and after a few miles I gave up on trying to dodge puddles since my socks were soaked anyway. We all just hiked and hiked and when we’d see each other, we’d always ask, “how are you doing?” and the response was usually an uneasy smile and a delayed, “okaaay.” Then we’d shiver and hike on.
It was nice to have a group to hike with again. Struggling in the cold and wet is a little more tolerable when you have good company. I especially appreciate the cheerfulness most of these people manage to share… it makes this kind of fun. We hiked through without breaks, and that makes it a bit tougher. I stopped only to pee and fill my water a couple of times. It’s hard on the feet and shoulders when you don’t stop, but thankfully I wore my thicker Smartwool socks. I think that really helped my toes stay warm.
Once we finally arrived at Rainy Pass, we were shocked and entirely impressed that there was trail magic! Frosty, a hiker from last year was there with his wife and their dog handing out donuts, cookies, chips, beer, soda and hot cider. I was all over that hot cider! Aloha wasn’t there to meet us yet, so we hung out under their tarp shivering and waiting. All but me, Atlas and Lighthouse got a ride to town. I jumped up and down when Aloha drove up… a warmed car, and a ride to town with more warm.
We went to Winthrop where Aloha had rooms reserved for us all. He and I went to our room where I got into the hot shower as soon as I could. The cold weather broke me down a little bit. I did okay until I had to stop hiking and wait when I got totally shivery. When that hot water hit my head I started to cry. I was mostly overwhelmed with the feeling of my body going from cold to warm, and feeling so thankful that I had this opportunity to warm up. I closed my eyes and visualized the trail we’d just hiked and just couldn’t believe I’m getting through this as well as I am. Well, until I’m able to go from cold to warm as quickly as that shower made me!
We met for dinner at the Old Schoolhouse brewpub and I ate a brat that mostly just made me hungry for a real Wisconsin brat. But it was pretty good. We discussed so many options, and I think we’re all feeling pretty beat down. We plan to drive up to Hart’s Pass tomorrow to check it out and we’ll reevaluate then.
For now, a bath and wine. Yup. I’m a PCT thru hiker very happy to be in a hotel tonight.
Tonight I love the hot shower I took tonight. Best. Shower. Ever.
Thanks for reading and being a part of my journey!