INTO STEHIKIN

PCT DAY 47: Friday August 11, 2017
Mile 2553.0 –  Mile 2569.4
16.4 miles (26.2 km)
I felt like a tourist in New York city this morning craning my neck to look up at craggy mountain tops to my left as the moon disappeared behind them, just as the sunrise was hitting their tops. From where I stood it was difficult to work out how the trail may leave this valley as the craggy peaks seem to enclose it all around. But as always trust in the trail makers.

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I turned back to take a photo and realised there was another hiker behind me. I waved but he probably did not see as there was no response. Oh well I thought he’ll catch up with me. And he did at a creek crossing where I stopped to take off my socks and shoes. He was a northbound true through hiker who skipped the Sierras, only the second one I’ve met. His trail name is Taco Cat and he seemed like a nice guy. Just as I was through the creek another northbound hiker  joined us – Blaze. Taco Cat mentioned that the shuttle bus to Stehikin arrived at 12.30, it was now 8am and the High Bridge where the bus pick up is located, was 12 miles away. To make the bus would mean a faster hiking pace then I’ve managed so far.  I said goodbye whike Blaze was getting his shoes back on knowing they would catch me before too long. I needed to hike at least 3 miles per hour if I was to have a chance of making the shuttle. The trail was located all through forest running along Agnes Creek.

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There wasn’t any scenery as such to distract me.  I aimed for a creek crossing about 3 miles on, knowing that if I made that in one hour my pace was good. It was warm and getting warmer as the trail followed the creek downstream. The trail surface was great and soft underfoot and my pack felt light which allowed me to run some of the sections. I made my first milestone with 5 minutes to spare, so that was encouraging. I went to get my phone out of my pants pocket to see what was coming up to give me another small milestone, but I couldn’t  budge the zipper open. I tried all I could think of but it was not going to open. Of all the contingencies for navigation failures, a stuck zipper was not on my list of likely to happen. It was so frustrating, not knowing how much further I had to go. I tried prizing open the zipper with my hiking pole tip but it was not budging. So I gave up and just pushed on in the hope of making it to the Bridge in time. I was also hoping that Taco Cat and Blaze would come along and I could just pace off them. By 10am it was getting really hot, but running a bit and power hiking seemed to create a bit of a breeze to cool me down. I stopped at a couple of creeks to splash water on my face. Finally I reached some switchbacks and knew that the dirt road junction can’t be too far away. At 11.20 I crossed into the North Cascades National Park and knew I was close. Ten minutes later I was at the bus stop. I made it, with an hour to spare. I asked a family group about to go on a day hike if this was the right place for the bus. They assured me it was. As we chatted for a bit it turns out one of the members of the family had heard about my misfortunes last year and knew I was back on trail. You got to love the PCT community. Taco Cat and Blaze arrived about half an hour after me. The phone was freed from the pocket but the zipper is busted.

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I am so happy to finally reach this milestone and have only 82 miles to Canada.  There was at least another 8 hikers waiting for the bus. Always surprising that you can go on trail for days without seeing another person and get to a town junction to find a whole bunch of people have been there the whole time.

The bus arrived for the 11 mile transit to Stehikin stopping at the famous Stehikin Bakery along the way. The driver gave us 10 minutes – so it was a case of rush in, rush out.  I got a blueberry scone and a cinnamon scroll which Hammer said I had to try.
Got into Stehikin where I will take  zero day tomorrow – hoping the temperatures drop a little by Sunday.

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The lake looks amazing. There are people swimming, relaxing on easy chairs by the water or  relaxing on the patio by the restaurant. The sort of thing normal people do on a very hot day.

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I’m camped behind the Parks Visitors centre sharing a site with Blaze.  He is from Pennsylvania and has hiked at Appalachian Trail. His trail name comes from the white blaze of the AT which a friend has knitted for him  on a cap. He also showed me a beautiful momento his little niece gave him to carry on trail. A cat she made for him. It was so georgeous.

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After setting up camp, I made a coffee and enjoyed the fantastic blueberry scone.  The rave reviews of the bakery were not just hype. It really is good. The cinnamon scroll will have to wait till the morning.

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I picked up my last  resupply parcel from the post office and was  chuffed that I arrived on the estimated arrival date on the box. I remember sending these resupply boxes  from San Francisco thinking how optimistic I was being about being able to make these dates in Washington. And I arrived at each of the 10 resupply locations on the day without actually beeing aware of the dates. The afternoon in Stehikin was spent waiting to do laundry and take a much needed shower. While waiting I enjoyed a chilled Ginger Kombucha I’ve been dreaming about for the past few days on trail and chatting to a southbound hiker Dylan who is making a film for Buzz Feed about his time on trail.  In a way I am wishing my hike finished here. It really is a perfect spot for it to end.

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