September 3, Day 135 – Wiesel Dick’s Birthday!

I spent the entire day eating way too much food. I went to the bakery twice, got to see Rambo and Surefoot, ate a lot of carrot cake and had some pretty good clam chowder. Approach and Wiesel Dick returned from Chelan around 4 and we celebrated his birthday with lots of baked goods. Draggin’ bought us all dinner that night too. We got really lucky and got to eat at the only restaurant in town the last night they would be open for the season. If we had gotten there a day later we would have missed out on the amazing food there and been stuck eating our hiker food or cinnamon rolls from the bakery. We went for a swim in the lake, did laundry and took showers and got ready for the last stretch of trail. When we walk out of Stehekin tomorrow morning, we will be 80.4 miles from Canada.

Miles: 0 Total Miles: 2572.9

I seemed to have once again not taken many pictures but here are the pastries I got at the bakery. The cinnamon rolls from Stehekin Pastry Company are probably the single most talked about food item on trail.

September 2, Day 134 – Last town on trail, Stehekin

I packed up pretty quickly this morning and was out of camp by 6:45. We had 31.3 miles to do to get to Stehekin. However, the town is 12 miles from the trail and we needed to be at a road crossing to catch a bus into town by 6:15. We had one big gradual climb to start our day and then it was downhill for 20 miles. The sun was shining and we were excited to get to our last town on trail. We hiked last Beekeeper and Atlas first thing in the morning but would see them both later that day. Beekeeper ended up catching and passing me pretty early on but Atlas would end up showing up to the bus stop about 30 minutes after me. I had a lot of foot pain today so I was moving pretty slow and downhill made it a lot worse. I had been wearing the same pair of shoes since Ashland, Oregon, 800 miles ago. This was way longer than I intended but the post office had let me down in our prior town stops. I ended up spending most of the day with headphones in listening to a podcast with 20 minute episodes. This meant every episode was one mile done. It really helped me get through the pain. After getting to Stehekin, I found Beekeeper and was told Approach and Wiesel Dick had gone into Chelan to get his staph infection looked at. They had somehow gotten a hitch on a boat 50 miles down to the other end of the lake. I spent the night hanging out with Beekeeper, Atlas, and Koviet. I was able to get my new shoes and my feet instantly felt better. We ended up cowboy camping behind the bathrooms at the local campground.

Miles: 31.3 Total Miles: 2572.9

These shoes had more holes than Swiss cheese. The rip on the right toe went all the way across the shoe.

September 1, Day 133 – Hiking slow for the views

We woke up to sunshine! Approach and I decided to just dry out our stuff first thing so we didn’t have to pack anything up wet and could keep moving all day afterwards. This meant we didn’t leave camp until around 9 but it was nice taking our time this morning. I will say I don’t have much detail from today since we arrived in camp late and I didn’t write that night but here’s what I can remember: taking about 30 photos of alpine lakes, roaring streams, mountain ranges poking the clouds and a wonderful sunset. Even though I had fun with the snow yesterday, one day was enough. I was very happy for sunshine today. We passed by one of the most beautiful lakes on trail, Mica Lake. The water was a beautiful deep blue with hints of turquoise near the shore. After passing Mica Lake, we descended down into a river valley only to climb right back out the other side. But I didn’t mind any of the climbing we did today. The view at the top was always worth it. I took a 15 minute break at Dolly Vista to watch the sunset. It was one of the best I’d had all trail. Afterwards, I scurried downhill to find Approach eating dinner at our planned campsite. We had caught up to Draggin’ who told us that the rest of the crew was not far ahead. Approach and I decided to push another 5 miles to catch them and set ourselves up for an easier day into Stehekin tomorrow. I ran most of those 5 miles. It was beautiful wide trail and as flat as can be. I got in to our resting spot at a large bridge just before 10 and scoped out a site for us. We couldn’t find anyone else but there were a lot of campsites at this river and it was too dark to go looking for them. We found out 2 days later we had passed Rambo and Surefoot in those last 5 miles and we would get into Stehekin the day before them.

Miles: 35.1 Total Miles: 2541.6

The view from Dolly Vista at mile 2532.5. The pictures don’t do it justice.

August 31, Day 132 – Snow day

Condensation is a fact of life out here some times. We woke up with a wet tent and damp quilts. I crossed my fingers in hope that the sun would come out later today but we were not so lucky. It was a wet and dreary day most of the morning that turned into cold and very wet in the afternoon. Approach stayed out in front as usual and I spent the entire day hiking a slow and steady pace without breaks. I wanted to stay moving since it was colder out. I also hiked sans headphones the entire day for probably the first time since mile 500. As I was ascending up to Red Pass at mile 2504, it started snowing. I’m not sure what is wrong with me but I really enjoyed it. We had been gifted blue skies for too long and I wanted to feel challenged for once. I laughed and ran and jumped around as I made my last few miles to camp. Approach was not so patiently waiting for me since I had the rain fly to her tent. I had agreed to carry it all day but never had the chance to dry it out. We set up the wet tent with our wet quilts and hoped for the best. I luckily was able to keep my spare set of socks dry and was excited to sleep in them. As usual, we ate a lot of candy and watched some episodes on Netflix before falling asleep.

Headphones have become one of my most used items of gear. When I want to go fast, I put on music. When I want to let my mind wander, a podcast is played. When I need help breaking up the monotonous routine of day to day trail life, music helps a lot. But today, I wanted to be alone with my thoughts. I’m not sure why at the time I picked this day but looking back I think it was because I was dealing with such a drastically different hiking experience than I had almost all trail. It was really nice to wander through the woods thinking about all of the amazing experiences I’ve had on trail. I’m really going to miss this, even days like today.

Miles: 31.7 Total Miles: 2506.5

I didn’t take many photos today because of the weather. This was probably some of the best visibility I had all day. Everything in this picture was wet.

August 30, Day 131 – Got my old backpack back

The first part of our day consisted of rolling hills over 13 miles to get into Stevens Pass. I got in not too long after Approach and when I got to the highway we saw a van pull over for another hiker so we walked over and were able to get a ride immediately. He was driving this super cool Ford van from the 70’s that he had converted so he could live out of it. He dropped us off right in front of the restaurant in Skykomish. We were able to dry our stuff out on the patio while we ate. I had a fish sandwich, a chili cheese hot dog and a bowl of chicken vegetable soup. I had not eaten enough on this last stretch and was very hungry. I then headed to the post office so I could get my old pack back. The gear repair company had mailed it here. I’m pretty excited to have it back. While it was fun to test out a prototype for Atom Packs, my old pack from them fit me better and felt better on my back. Once done with the post office, we headed to the deli and gas station to ressuply and for some chai tea and potato salad. I was still hungry some how. Our town time took longer than usual and we didn’t get back to trail until 4:30 so we decided to only do 10 miles instead of the 15 we told the rest of the group we would do. We will have to catch them another day.

Miles: 23.7 Total Miles: 2474.8

For some reason this was the only picture I took this day. You can see the storm clouds rolling in that will end up raining on us that night.