30: Stehekin

WASHINGTON - Sep 27 - Sep 29

And so the 'finals' begin. The final National Park, the final resupply package, the final rummage through a hiker box. Cue the tears. 

 The second to last major mile marker. 

The second to last major mile marker. 

The Fall colors are getting more and more beautiful by the day or perhaps hour. The weather has been holding up well but the occasional drizzle is welcomed to dampen the potential of wildfires. And now that we're in Washington, with no fire bans, evening camp fires have become a nightly ritual. 

On the morning of the 27th, I woke up to the pitter patter of rain on my tent. I find it interesting what noises I've become conditioned to pick out over the duration of the hike. Incessant Watch alarm?... might as well be a babbling brook cuase I'm not waking up. But just the first few drops of rain hitting my tent are like a gunshot to my ears, especially if I forgot to close my tent doors the night before. 

This morning in particular was one of those. After waking up, I promptly made sure nothing was getting wet and proceeded to eat breakfast in my tent. Yes, yes, I know you're not supposed to do that but I'm not sure you understand... I don't care. It was raining and I was hungry. 

Slowly, one by one, Six, Bud, Fret, Meerkat and I all packed up and headed up the trail. Without a word, we all superstitiously knew what the others were thinking, that local's forecast was probably right, it's going to rain all day. 

 Walking in the clouds. But there is some blue sky in there! - maybe, just maybe the clouds will lift!

Walking in the clouds. But there is some blue sky in there! - maybe, just maybe the clouds will lift!

We didn't know it then but this was just the beginning of our good luck with the weather. By afternoon, the clouds had lifted and rain was a distant memory. 

 A silty glacial river! Pretty as heck but can clog a water filter in no time flat. 

A silty glacial river! Pretty as heck but can clog a water filter in no time flat. 

 Glacier Peak with a backdrop of blue sky

Glacier Peak with a backdrop of blue sky

Feeling on top of the world, Washington is home to views like this at nearly every turn. As the sun began to set, we made our way down the mountain to camp, soaking up every drop of sunlight we knew wasn't promised but appreciated. 

 Meerkat leading us to camp. With it now late September, as soon as the sun dropped behind the mountains puffy jackets came out.

Meerkat leading us to camp. With it now late September, as soon as the sun dropped behind the mountains puffy jackets came out.

The next morning was set to be a fun day. It was our last full day before going into Stehekin, our next and final resupply. We'd also be walking through an old growth area with some of the largest Douglas Fir's and Cedars we'd see on the entire trail.  But not without some unexpected trail conditions...

 landslide

landslide

 Some real Lord of the Rings stuff going on here. 

Some real Lord of the Rings stuff going on here. 

 And here too.

And here too.

Yard sale! Even though we weren't getting much precipitation during the day, condensation was still as issue. Most mornings I woke up to the inside of my tent covered in dew and the down of my sleeping bag and jacket compressed from the humidity. Luckily the sun was out when we stopped for lunch, time to dry everything!

It's funny what you don't notice until someone mentions it. Mushrooms, yeah I'd seen a few, but it wasn't until Meerkat pointed out a few during a snack break when this micro-world revealed itself. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Walking among the giants. I dare you to walk past this tree without giving it a hug :)

 The final National Park  - North Cascades National Park 

The final National Park  - North Cascades National Park 

We hauled butt today, doing 23 miles before 3:00 to get to the bus stop in time for the 3 o'clock shuttle ride into Stehekin, the final stop (well, sort of). And waiting for me at the post office!?!?!? The final resupply and Feed Me Package!

Thank you mom and dad for being my support team at home, mailing out my boxes, handling last minute food requests and making sure each box made it there on time. Your aid was invaluable, Thank You!

In this box was actually three different scrumptious Feed Me offerings: Perfectly portioned tuna lunch packets from Maria, Amazing Power Protein Balls from Suzette, and Slutty Brownies (her name for them, not mine) from Big Sis! Thank you!

Maria, Suzette and Elyse, 

This was the perfect final resupply and there was more than enough to share with my fellow thru-hikers as well! Thank you for following along on my journey, on this crazy, frustrating, inspiring, magnificent trail. I hope over the days, weeks, and months I was able to shed some light on the world of thru-hiking and the landscape PCT.

Maria, I loved these little all in one boxes and the packaging kept the crackers in one piece. I'm not sure I can express how much that means to a thru-hiker but eating chips or crackers that haven't been smashed into a fine particle dust is an absolute luxury! To put it into perspective, when I normally ate chips on trail, I did it using a spoon. Hungry from the high milage morning I actually ate two and saved two for the week on trail ahead.

Suzette, I don't know the official name but I referred to your homemade dessert as the Amazing Protein Packed Power Balls! I shared them with the rest of my group, Bud, Fret Six and Meerkat and we devoured them all on the spot. They were fantastic and I felt like Mario after eating a Super Mushroom, three times stronger and ready to hit the trail running! (And I did sneak a couple in my food bag for later in the week!)

Best Sister Ever, those were some dense, rich brownies! Holy cow! I also shared them with the crew and I think they were the nail in the coffin to our official food coma. Thanks for waiting until the end to send your dessert when I know you wanted to send many things earlier. Selfishly, from the beginning I wanted yours to be in the final resupply - a little extra motivation to get me to Stehekin and it made it all that more special when I did.

 The final resupply box! Filled with soooo many goodies I can barely pick it up. 

The final resupply box! Filled with soooo many goodies I can barely pick it up. 

 Slutty brownies courtesy of Elyse! 

Slutty brownies courtesy of Elyse! 

 Tuna salad and crackers! Perfect for lunches on trail!

Tuna salad and crackers! Perfect for lunches on trail!

 Amazing protein power balls!

Amazing protein power balls!

What a feeling to pickup the final resupply box! There's an interesting pattern every thru-hiker is familiar with; you come into town with a light pack (little food, little water) and leave with a heavy pack due to resupply. The food in this particular large flat-rate USPS priority shipping box would last me to the USA/Canada border. To anyone handling the package, it was just an ordinary box that made its way from St. Louis to Stehekin, WA. Interesting that I'd done the same. By way of the PCT of course, but I thought back to that night before my flight out west looking at the long line of resupply boxes, lined up against the wall like giant dominoes. I hoped I'd see each of them again but who could ever know what the trail had in store for me between now and then. Each box, one by one, our paths completely different yet we started and were at some point again standing in the same location.

I lived in Dallas for a few years after graduate school, moving down south for my first full-time architecture job. The first order of business, buy a road bike.  I'd always wanted one because I thought they looked cool. I know, I know, my reasoning was a little superficial. I ended up buying a shinny used denim blue and canary yellow Trek 400 bike. Immediately after I saw it, I  loved it and by the color and model number I was able to find out its history. Turns out the bike was made in 1989. Back then Trek was still manufacturing their products in USA, in Waterloo, WI, in fact. At the same time, myself a small child, my family spent summers up in a tiny cabin in Wisconsin, less than 30 miles from Waterloo. Somehow we both made our way to Dallas by way of separate stories and different routes. The coincidence of our paths was a reminder of how far I'd come.  

Quite a bitter sweet moment it was organizing my food bag that last time. I flipped open my Swiss army knife and cut the packaging tape I'd carefully placed on the box some five months earlier. And as I deconstructed the cardboard and placed it in the recycling bin I considered that perhaps, sometimes, it's fragments from our past which are the best reminders to keep on, keeping on.

The final hiker box. Bud, Fret, Six and Meerkat all looking for a few more items to round out their resupply. Tomorrow we head to the Stehekin Bakery, the famous Stehekin Bakery!

I'll be dreaming of cinnamon rolls and sticky buns tonight, 

 Outro