Day 138: mile 2572.5 – mile 2593.6 (+1 mile since we went the wrong way 😡)
Elevation gain: 5,624 ft
Elevation loss: 1,957 ft
I’m not sure if Mother Nature realized how frustrated we were with the smoky air and lack of views, or how sad we were that the wilderness was being decimated. Either way, she did a lovely thing and rained last night! It was the greatest sound in the world…hearing the raindrops hitting the roof of our nice, warm, cozy cabin in the middle of the night. There was only a 20% chance of rain, yet she was still able to pull it off for us! I was so excited to see if the rain had brought us blue skies today, that I was awake around 4am and having a really hard time falling back to sleep. But I finally found a way, until the alarm went off at 6:45. Link and I both had super crazy dreams about having a hard time finding the terminus, and being home but then realizing we still needed to finish the trail. Canada is definitely on both our minds A LOT! We packed up most of our stuff in the nice, dry cabin before we went to breakfast about 7:45. It had stopped raining and the blue skies were fabulous…we could even see the mountains surrounding the Ranch.
The six of us ate breakfast together, but only 5 of us will be heading back to the trail. Iceman decided to stay at the Ranch another day, but the rest of us were super excited to see what the trail had in store for us today. I have to say that the feeling among the thru hiking community has been amazing. I compare it to when we have gone back to PA to watch some Steelers games. Before a game, if you are wearing black and gold, you are treated as family even though you’ve never met these people. It’s been exactly the same on this trail…thru hikers are all so welcoming to each other. There would never be a question where Link and I would sit in the big dining room of SVR. We are all just a big thru hiking family and everyone wants to sit together even if you just met these people. It’s pretty neat, I have to say.
After breakfast, the 5 of us hopped back in the bus and were driven back to the trailhead at High Bridge. As we approached the trail, we could see about 8 hikers waiting to be taken to Stehekin Valley Ranch. It felt like summer camp, with us excited to see who was waiting to get on the bus, while they were all peering inside to see who was getting back on trail. Link and I had actually never met any of the hikers waiting, which was so strange. We had heard their names before, though, so it was great to finally put the names to faces…Danger & Blaze, Dr Seuss & Help Wanted, Larry. We all had a quick pow wow, and then it was time for them to all get on the bus, and for us to start hiking! The fall colors are really starting to pop, and now with the clear, blue skies, it was beautiful. It was really fun leap frogging with everyone today. It was like a mini PCT party every time we would pass one another. It’s so rare to have so many of us together on trail at the same time!
After about 5 miles, we saw this cool PCT sign and stopped to take a picture. As we were doing this, Zach G walked up and then we all started walking down the trail together. We walked over this really neat bridge with gorgeous pools of turquoise below, and then commented on how nice the trail was. It was flat and wide, with lovely, smooth dirt. This is when we knew something was wrong. Link looked at the map and we had just walked 1/2 mile past the PCT somehow! We haven’t done that in sooo long…we were thinking it’s been since Lassen National Park when I led us the wrong way for a whole mile uphill. So we turned around and headed back to where we went wrong. Right where Link was taking the picture, the PCT actually veered off, 180 degrees behind us. We were so busy chatting w Zach G that we hadn’t even noticed. At least it had been flat and beautiful 😜
I forgot to mention that this climb out of Stehekin is legendary. It’s 25 miles long and we climb from Stehekin, which is at 1,100 ft, to the top which is over 6,800 ft. Most of it is actually fairly gradual which is completely doable…it’s just a constant grind. We were hoping to do 21-23 miles of the climb today, but since we didn’t start hiking till 9am, we were going to have to play it by ear. As we climbed, we did have some beautiful views before stopping for lunch about 1pm. Everyone else decided to stop there too which was fun! Zach G loves Miracle Whip so he has the same thing for lunch and dinner EVERY single day. A tortilla with Miracle Whip, tuna, and hot sauce. Literally, every day of this entire trail…Yuck!!
There actually wasn’t a whole lot to see today, but I didn’t care one bit. The sun was shining, the sky was blue with cool clouds, and the air was fresh and clean…awesome!
Right before Rainy Pass, which was 20 miles into the day, we saw a mini PCT terminus on the side of the trail that someone had built. PLUS…Trail Magic! Someone had left a variety of beverages on the side of the trail and they were still cold! Link and Wooter took a beer, Sparkles grabbed a mini wine bottle, and I had a grapefruit sparkling water. Link plans to take the beer to the terminus as his celebratory beverage, and I have a White Claw from the hiker box in Stehekin! There was also a Mountain Dew, which we knew Zach G loves, so we put it in the middle of the trail for him to make sure he saw it. It’s these little things that are seriously so exciting to us…the generosity of others is great!
Sparkles & Wooter decided to camp at the Pass, while Zach G, Link and I decided to move on another 1.7 miles to get a little further from the road. So at least we got a large chunk of the climb done today, and only about 3.5 more to do tomorrow. The 3 of us are camped near Porcupine Creek, in the trees. Just as we were finishing up dinner, it actually started to rain again. We quickly put everything away and jumped in the tents, but the moisture pocket was short lived. We were able to go back out and clean everything up after about 15 mins of rain. Mother Nature has just been so nice and helpful today! Thanks for coming along on this crazy ride with us…never a dull moment! DoubleDown