Stehekin(2569.4) to Hideaway Camp(2582.8) 13.4 Miles
No rest for the weary! I had a lot of things that I needed to accomplish this morning and due to the shuttle schedule I didn't have a lot of time waste. Most of the people camped around me were hoping to sleep in and catch the 9:30 shuttle back to the trailhead. Unfortunately for them I had to be up early. Due to the operating hours of the post office, it didn't open until 10:00, I couldn't take the early shuttle. I was forced to wait for the 11:30 bus. I needed to do laundry, clean and repair some gear, write a blog post, eat breakfast, figure out a way to call my parents(there was no wifi or cell reception), pick up my last resupply box, and repackage the food into my pack. It was definitely going to be a busy morning. I packed up and was out of camp around seven thirty. I wasn't exactly loud, but I wasn't sneaky quiet either.
Stehekin is a tiny town with a population of seventy people. Surprisingly for such a small town there were more businesses than I expected. There is a post office, two restaurants, one small lodge, a lot of cabins for rent, a small camp store with limited options, bike rentals, a place to rent fishing gear, a ferry to take you into the town of Chenal, a dock for sea plane rides, a visitor center for North Cascades National Park, and the famous Stehekin Pastry Company(the bakery all thru-hikers have been looking forward to for 2,570 miles).
The town has a building with coin operated laundry and a shower. I was worried that other hikers would be doing laundry and since there was only one washer and dryer I wanted to be the first person there. I guess I could have slept in a little longer because nobody else was there when I was. The building also had a pay phone so I was able to talk to my parents. I had gone a long time without talking to them and it was nice to check in. I use my Delorme InReach to send out a message every night so they know that I am still alive, but I needed to talk to them to make my final arrangements. I didn't have service to buy my plane ticket home so I needed to check that my executive assistant(dad) had taken care of that for me. While we chatted about my final few days my laundry had finished. After I got off of the phone I sorted my clothes and cleaned out my pack. I have accumulated a lot of unnecessary things over the last few hundred miles. Most of it was sauce packets from convenience stores. I had almost half a pound of mustard, mayo, and hot sauce packets. With only a few days left on the trail it was time to throw away the excess. I still had an hour before the PO opened so I went for breakfast. I had pancakes, sausage, and coffee. This will be my last restaurant meal until I finish the trail!
I was still waiting on the post office to open when I saw a few of my friends being dropped off. It was nice to see Hellen Keller and Makeshift again. Just as they were arriving a seaplane was taking off. I just love watching that. It isn't something that I get to watch very often.
Finally the post office had opened. It was very surreal picking up my last resupply package. I was surprised at how heavy it felt. My mom had said she put a few surprises in for me. I was a little weary when she told me this because I don't like carrying extra weight, but they were welcome surprises. She had included a small bottle of Crown Royal whiskey, two Burger King crowns(because this will be my double crown hike), and a new shirt for me to wear at the end. The shirt was an awesome surprise. They had it specially made for me. It was purple(my trail color), had my trail name on it, and included both of my long distance trails with the years that I finished hiking them. Thanks mom and dad. It was perfect.
I finished packing all of my food into my pack and was ready to get out of town. Unfortunately, I still had to wait for the shuttle back to the trailhead. As I was waiting I found out that I needed a permit to camp in North Cascades National Park. I only had 15 miles of the park to hike in, but with such a late start I wasn't sure I could clear the border before setting up camp. I went to the visitors center to get my free permit. I picked a the farthest campsite away, hoping I could make it there before dark. The only benefit of camping inside the borders of the park is there would be a cable strung up to make hanging my food from bears much easier. I finished getting my permit just in time to catch the shuttle back to the trailhead. The shuttle made a stop at the Stehekin Pasty Company. I was beyond excited for this. The stores in town were sold out of canister fuel and I was almost out. I estimated that I only had enough fuel for one or two boils. That would not cut it to get me to the end. I hiker boxed one of my dinners(so I wouldn't need fuel) and picked up extra food at the bakery. I would dine on muffins, tarts, and fresh baked pizza for dinner tonight. The bakery exceeded all expectations. I was so excited that I forgot to take a picture of all of the delicious food.
The shuttle made one more stop before returning me to the trailhead. We stopped to checkout Rainbow Falls. It is hard not to be jaded. I have seen a lot of spectacular water falls along my journey. My reaction to this one was, meh. I took a quick look and returned to the bus. I just wanted to get back on the trail. The visitor center had a weather report posted and the news was not good. The weather would be nice for the remainder of today and tomorrow. After that I was to expect snow showers and freezing rain. Ugh, that is not what I wanted to hear. I was slightly frustrated to waste what sounded like one of my last clear days poking around in town. As happy as I was to hit up the bakery I wished that I could have been on the trail much earlier. Oh well, it was out of my control and I just had to make due with what I was given.
I finally started the last leg of this journey around one o'clock. I only have 80.4 miles left to the Monument/Canadian border! The North Cascades are beautiful and I'm really looking forward to my time here. It will be a delicate balancing act between taking my time to really take in the sights and making good miles to finish before the weather turns bad. I had only hiked a few miles when I came across an awesome pond. Usually ponds are murky and not very impressive. This pond was more like the lakes I have been seeing recently.
North Cascades National Park is supposed to have a good amount of bears within its borders. I had only hiked five or six miles before I had my first sighting. This was the first bear I have seen in Washington. It was pretty good sized one. He checked me out for a few seconds before running away. I am always so thrilled when I have a bear experience.
I was really hoping to make it out of the park today, but with limited daylight hours it did not look like a reality. After a late night and early morning I was feeling pretty sluggish. I'm sure the obscene amount of pastries that I consumed did not help. My body seems to know that the end is near. My energy level has been down the last few days,yesterday's sprint to Stehekin probably didn't help either, and I have had more aches and pains than normal. I made a deal with my body that it only has to go 80.4 miles farther. Hopefully it will listen and get on board.
The sun was rapidly disappearing so I hustled along as fast as I could. I passed by a fast moving creek and barely paused to take a look. Out of the corner of my eye I saw a fish leap into the air, that caught my full attention. Upon further inspection I could see several big fish moving up stream. I got to see a salmon run! I have always wanted to see this, but I was unaware that you could witness this in Washington. I really thought this was something I would have to visit Alaska to witness. So cool!
I couldn't make it to the campsite that I had registered for before dark. I was worried that this one would be full and I would be forced to keep hiking another few miles. Once again I didn't have anything to worry about. This campsite was empty. I should have been more worried about bears. I saw saw/heard another one about a quarter of a mile before the campsite. I had to hike .1 miles down a side trail to get to the site. On my way in I kept my eyes peeled for the bear hang cable, but I couldn't see it. By this time it was almost fully dark. I set up my tent while I could still see a little bit. After I had everything setup I went looking for the bear cable. I was pretty serious about hanging my food since I had seen a couple of bears today. I was disappointed to discover the bear cable was broken. I found one end anchored into a tree, but the other end was on the ground nearby. I couldn't find any appropriate tree limbs to create my own bear hang. It looked like I would be sleeping with my food. I really wasn't too bothered by this proposition. I have a healthy respect for bears, but I'm not too terribly bothered by the thought of them coming into my camp in the middle of the night. I found a log to sit on and began to eat my dinner of pastries and pizza. As I was eating I felt something brush up against my leg. I thought that I had brushed up against my food bag and didn't think to much of it, when all of a sudden I felt something trying to climb up my leg. I screamed like a child when I saw that it was a mouse. Bears I can handle, but mice are a different story. Those suckers will bite through my tent to get to my found. I doubled my efforts to find a tree to hang my food from. After much searching I finally found an acceptable tree close to the trail. With frozen fingers and zero moonlight to aid me, it took forever to get my food hung. In the end I persevered and headed back to camp laughing at myself. The thought of a giant bear attacking me in the middle of the night for my food doesn't bother me, but when faced by mice I finally decide to hang my food, lol.
67.3 miles to go before I reach the border! Here's hoping that the weather cooperates with me. I'm reaching out with the force on this one.
"I do the very best I know how, the very best I can, and I mean to keep on doing so until the end."
- Abraham Lincoln