September 12, 2017
Mile 2551.39 – Stehekin (2551.39-2569.42)
We woke this morning with the excitement of town day spurring us on, and the hope that we would be able to make the second last shuttle rather than the last one of the day, which I thought left at 4pm. The beginning of the hike today was quite beautiful, as we wound around the peaks and ridges as they were illuminated by the rising sun. Soon, we descended down into the forest, where we stayed for the rest of the day, although we did glimpse occasional mountain views through the trees.
We had to cross a creek several miles into the day where there had once been a bridge but it had been washed out. I tried to hop across on the rocks and keep my feet dry, but my trekking pole collapsed on me halfway across causing me to lose my balance and I ended up just walking the rest of the way through the water. We stopped for breakfast on the other side so I could have a chance to slightly dry out my feet, and then pressed on. Hiker hunger is real now (especially after the sad eats of this last section), and I felt hungry again about 5 minutes after leaving our breakfast spot. Because of this, we ended up stopping for lunch closer to 11 then 12, and it was there that I discovered the second last shuttle of the day left at 3, not 4 as I had originally thought.
At first, I immediately resigned myself to the fact that we would just have to get the last shuttle at 6, but then we did some quick math and realized that if we were fast we might still be able to reach the bus stop by 3. We finished up our lunch quickly and kept going. Gummies was off like a shot but I maintained a fairly steady pace until the final mile or so, when I realized that getting the 3 o’clock bus was actually possible if I booked it, and I kicked it into high gear. I ended up arriving at the ranger station where the shuttle picks up hikers at exactly 3pm, and climbed onto the bus just as it was ready to pull away.
The bus stopped at the famed Stehekin bakery on the way into town, but due to some people that needed to make it to the post office before it closed, the driver only gave us 5 minutes inside. I panicked and just started grabbing everything I could, which ended up being two slices of pizza, a day old sticky bun, and a slice of something called Kuchen. Once we got to town, we were able to buy fuel canisters, and I’m so excited to be able to eat hot meals again. I may even treat myself to some hot coffee and tea in this last section.
This town day has been a total reunion of hikers we’ve known from all over the trail but haven’t seen in ages. Cougar and Dr. McDirty are here, along with Adam, Stephanie, Monarch, Acorn, John, and lots of others. It’s so exciting that everyone seems to be coming together again right here at the very end, after everyone kind if scattered to the winds around the Sierra. We sat, ate, and drank with Cougar, Dr. McDirty, Wang, and Baton for a while, and we’re all camped together tonight in the free camping area here in town. I ate way too much after this last section of not having enough food, and now I’m lying in bed totally stuffed. But of course I’m still going to buy a ridiculous amount of food again at the bakery tomorrow.
The bus we rode into town.
We get to sleep in tomorrow, which I am very excited about. The post office doesn’t open til 10, so we’ll get our boxes then and hopefully catch the 11 o’clock bus back to the trail. The next 16 miles of trail are inside North Cascades National Park, so we can only camp in designated camp areas and we have to get a permit for a specific spot. We’re hoping to get one for a site 11 miles out of town, but we’ll have to do that tomorrow as well. There are only 80 miles to go until the border, which is absolutely insane. Today is Tuesday, and we should be in Canada first thing Sunday morning. It’s really happening.