Wednesday, August 24, 2016

August 15 to August 21 - Stevens Pass to Canada Border / Manning Park

Day 93 - August 15 - end at mile 2477.6. Traffic picked back up around 4am and I got woke up by the sound. I was happy to at least have slept for a few hours in my crummy spot. I packed up and walked down to the road to thumb into Skykomish. Within a minute or two a local who was driving to work picked me up. He had a three hour commute where he stays overnight near his job for half the week and said he was happy to give me a ride to break up the monotony of the drive. We chatted about the trail and then he dropped me off in the cute railroad town. I got breakfast #1 at the gas station which was the only place open at 6:30am. I'm glad it was. I crossed the iron bridge into town and wandered about. The town is small but has a clear downtown consisting of just several buildings, and it reminded me of a New England town. I hung out in one of the park's since the post office was closed till 11:30am. After I while I got hungry and had loitered a long time so I went back to the gas station for breakfast #2, followed at 10am by breakfast #3 at the cafe/hotel which was now open. Trail Angel Jerry Dinsmore and other hikers were at the cafe and we had breakfast together. It was nice to chat with some new folks. I picked up my package afterwards and as I was sorting it a nice woman named Mandy came over to chat. She was heading my way out of town and kindly offered me a ride. By the time I was all packed up, the people she was waiting around for showed up. She gave me a fresh veggie sandwich and then it was time to drive up. Getting in and out of Skykomish was super easy and fun.  I'm glad I made the trip. Half the day was gone at this point though so it was time to hike. The afternoon trail seemed easier than what the past few days presented and I made good time. Had a nice view of Glacier Peak while walking the meadow on top of the non-gnarly, tame Grizzly Peak. I think I ate too much for dinner or maybe it was the potentially rancid olive oil I have plus lots of fritos, but my stomach felt terrible after dinner and still does. I had to take it super slow on the last mile to camp for fear of throwing up. Made it fine but laying here I still have a stomache ache, a very unusual thing for me. Hopefully I'll sleep it off.

Day 94 - August 16 - end at mile 2508.1. Nice hike today. Lots of blueberries in the morning. Swam in an alpine lake at lunch. Big exposed walk up high in mild weather. Views of Glacier Peak and surrounding area. Flat woods in evening with a Black-backed Woodpecker. Sunny but not hot today.

Day 95 - August 17 - end at mile 2540.7. Two ups and two downs. Flat along a river. Huge trees along the river. 10-15ft diameters. Very cool. Tomorrow will be an easy day. Because of the bus schedule into Stehekin, I need to take my time and get in there morning day after tomorrow.

Day 96 - August 18 -  end at mile 2569.4. The terrain for the day was ten miles up and twenty down. The up was wooded and not too steep. Went by quickly. I then realized I could make it to the last bus into Stehekin as long as I kept a 3mph pace on the downhill. I hustled down and arrive about an hour early. I didn't have many snacks and felt bonked by the time I got down. I rode the bus in with four or five other hikers. Stehekin is a small lake town and has a little lodge with a store and restaurant. The lake is almost like a wide river, about 200 meters wide and maybe 40 miles long. Apparently there are no roads to this town so cars must come on ferry. I was glad I made it and had some town food while hanging out with the other hikers. Camped at the Purple Point Campground nearby.

Day 97 - August 19 - end at mile 2590.6
Last night was by far the hottest on trail. I laid with no sleeping bag and just in my underwear and was sweating.. so it took a while to fall a sleep. I got up early. I find it a little hard to sleep in now. I got breakfast at the restaurant and then headed over to the bakery for second breakfast with a hiker named High Mileage (secret meaning there). By then the post office was open. Turns out they don't hold UPS general deliver boxes there and it'd be at the store. Store didn't have my food box either. Tracking number said it was received by the ferry to take it to town but that's the last thing I knew. It was lost. Luckily another hiker abandoned their box at the post office so I was able to take food out of there. Combined with the big hiker box outside and I was able to assemble a sufficient food bag before heading out for the last 90 miles of trail. I had to rush to do this though because the bus was leaving for the trail. With no time to spare, I flagged it down midroute and got on to head up the 11 miles to trail. I was a bit frazzled from the past hectic half hour but it all worked out in the end. Once on trail I walked a fast, unremarkable 19 mile uphill before having dinner at a picnic area. Then a nice evening two mile to this solo campsite. One nice thing about today's hike was a bunch of cool stream crossings and some nice bridge. There was a bazillion cars in the trailhead two miles back so I was happy to find this spot empty. There has been a lot of non-thru hikers on trail in Washington and Oregon. That was a rare occurrence in California. I've got 60 miles left. Probably two days, Saturday and Sunday. I'm hoping my last days aren't swamped with people, but if they are, I'll try to make the best of it.

Day 98 - August 20 - end at mile 2624.7. I got up at 5:30 and it was still pretty dark but just light enough to see. Cold this morning too. By 6, the cool was gone and the sun was up. Today was mostly exposed walking above the trees which was pretty but not always the most exciting hiking. Some spots were nice long walks on the mountain slopes where you could see far ahead where you were going. Others were boring switchbacks on and on up the side of the mountain. The sun was on me all day today but I'm almost out of sunscreen so I didn't use much. Looking forward to being out of the sun once I'm back home in a few days. Tomorrow will be my last day hiking on the PCT. I intend to camp shortly after the border in Manning Park and then take the bus out the next day.

Day 99 - August 21 - end at mile 2650.1. I headed out this morning and decided to go all the way to Manning today. I thought the bus came to pick up in the middle of the night and figured I might as well ride out tonight than weight around. I passed a three section hikers as I ascended to the final pass on the PCT. I had great views of far off mountains and glaciers. Then I just had a 8 mile descent to the border. I ran into Dee, a thru hiker who was heading back to Rainy Pass after reaching the border. We exchanged congratulations and smiles before heading our separate ways. I still had a few miles left. When I got to the border monument I was alone. There was no big mass of people like when I summited Katahdin on the AT. But also there was nothing special about this spot. I was just at some random monument in the woods, the closest paved road in Canada still another 8 miles. On either side of the monument, a thirty foot clearcut ran east and west to serve as a border line. I didn't expect to see that. I quickly signed the log and checked when a few of my friends had been through. But flies were biting me so I didn't stay too long. I walked across the border and into Canada.

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