Day 111: But I’m All Alone At Last

Mile reached: 2577.0 (+5.1 + 19.0 alternate)

High: My bottle of champagne was undamaged despite the box being soaked.

Low: Discovering that the restaurant in Stehekin closed for lunch 10 minutes before I got there.

The previous night I hadn’t really come up with a plan for the day, rather I surmised that starting early would simply give more flexibility. So, when my alarm rang in the predawn dark at 5 am I wasn’t terribly motivated to get up and out into the cold. Though, after a couple rounds of snooze I was up and broke camp. The tentative plan for the day was to finish the detour, catch the shuttle into Stehekin, and then maybe hike a few more miles in the evening.

Much to my delight, the morning climb was minimal, since I had gained most of the elevation the previous day. Rumors had been circulating that the backside of the pass was frightening, but it turned out to be fairly trivial. The trail did steeply switchback above cliffs, but the tread was good. The end of the detour was rather annoying, because it was overgrown with huckleberry bushes that scratched my legs for miles.

An impressive ridge heading north from Bonaza
I was a little frustrated when I first saw the river and thought I might have to ford, but just downstream there was this logjam.
The forest really opened up in the low elevation area near the Stehekin River.

In the end, I made such good time that I almost caught the first shuttle on its way back into town. As much as I might have wished that I’d caught that shuttle, it worked out better that I didn’t. Namely, the detour intersected Stehekin Road 6.5 miles away from the PCT, so I still needed to walk those miles along the road to maintain my continuous footpath. With a few hours until the next shuttle I decided to walk those miles and enjoyed being able to do so in what was left of the morning coolness.

The beginning of the road walk
Taken from High Bridge, which I guess is high above the river?
Best bakery on trail

Once back at the PCT at the High Bridge Ranger Station, I ran into a few backpackers, who were also waiting for the shuttle and very curious about the PCT. At the designated time, the shuttle departed. On the way into town we passed the “Super Siblings” doing the road walk, who made a rather rude gesture as I waved. The most famous bakery on the trail lies just a few miles outside of Stehekin, and the shuttle courteously makes a few minute stop to let us order goods to go. However, I found “Gandalf” inside and stayed to eat an enormous cinnamon roll there before catching the bakery shuttle into town.

As usual, being in town necessitated the usual chores. Though excitingly this would be the last resupply, so there were a few celebratory items such as champagne and cigars. My first resupply package had gone missing due to an exploded bottle of olive oil, so a second one had been sent as well. However, both of them arrived, and I was consequently swimming in food. A few other hikers were very pleased with the fresh additions to the hiker box.

Resupply

In the evening, we caught the last shuttle back to the trail and hiked 5 more miles. Our designated campsite in the North Cascades National Park was a stock camp that had few flat spots for tenting. But, we made it work and were accompanied by half a dozen other thru-hikers.

“Do we really have to hike 5 miles tonight?”
McGregor Peak, a P2k just off the PCT that has 6,000 feet of elevation gain.

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