September 19, 2015 (27th Re-Ration – Stehekin)
Tentsite at Glacier Creek (2567.8) to High Bridge Ranger Station – Stehekin (2580.0)
12.2 PCT miles today
2614.6 miles total
Today’s Elevation Gain/Loss: + 838 ft, – 2,826 ft
We got into Stehekin, our very last re-ration on the PCT, early this afternoon. The 12-mile hike in was all downhill or flat and went by relatively quickly, but left us sopping wet as we plowed through dense overgrowth covered in last night’s rain and this morning’s dew. We had blue skies for about an hour this morning, something we celebrated with much ado, but by the time we reached the road to Stehekin, the blue had once again been replaced by Washington’s standard matte white. While we waited for the shuttle into town to arrive, we anxiously ate our lunch and chatted with a group of hikers who were just passing through on their way to Rainy Pass and a re-ration in Mazama. We hadn’t met Green Man, Van Gogh, Snake Bait and Rocket Man until a couple days ago, but we enjoyed seeing them again and learning a bit more about their stories. Much of today was spent in the company of fellow hikers, all of us eager and excited to finally be within 100 miles of Canada. As we made our way into Stehekin, ate lots of yummy food, and got all cleaned up for the final push, my mind kept going back to the diverse experiences each hiker has had on this trail. I think that 2,600 miles in, I finally understand the true meaning of the phrase “hike your own hike”.
I realize more now than ever before how incredibly unique each person’s PCT experience really is. So many factors influence a person’s enjoyment level of any given portion of the trail that I truly don’t believe any two people have ever hiked the same hike. Even when the same person hikes the PCT a second time, I’d imagine they have a wholly different experience. My very favorite day could be another hiker’s worst day and whole sections that I found to be dull or exhausting may have been the very place that another hiker felt most content or inspired.
Many factors influence a person’s hike, but I think a few of the biggest include their age, where they are from, whether they have a hiking partner or are hiking solo, and whether they are injured or well. Looking back at this blog, I see now how much of my experience has been colored by personal factors. As I planned and researched in the years leading up to my hike, I had so many questions for PCT hikers, and I think I mostly believed that their experience would be mine. I would ask which section was the most beautiful, which towns were best for zeroes, or what I should bring to eat, and pretty much trust that their answer was the gold standard. I realize now that each hiker’s experience should be taken with a grain of salt because it is exactly that, a personal experience that you will neither duplicate or even necessarily agree with. When a group of hikers all see each other at the end of a section, like we did this afternoon, you will likely hear comments as disparate as “That was by far the best section of the trail” to “That was probably my least favorite section of the PCT.” Everyone’s entitled to their opinion and everyone will hike their own hike.
So, in our opinion and ours alone, Stehekin is a beautiful town with an excellent bakery, but it is not very hiker friendly. After showering and doing laundry, we spent the afternoon sitting on the deck of the lodge staring out at a gorgeous lake and the dozens of tourists coming and going from the day’s ferry. There is no 4G in town and the wifi is for lodge guests only (we are camping here in town tonight) so unfortunately we can’t get much else done. There used to be a nice indoor lounge where hikers could hang out, but now that has been reserved for lodge guests as well. Clearly a few immature hikers ruined it for all of us. We did make reservations to have dinner at the lodge’s restaurant this evening, as a special treat to ourselves for making it this far, and though the menu was ridiculously expensive, the food was absolutely delicious and I even managed to save some for lunch tomorrow on the trail. We also bought ourselves an entire blackberry pie at the bakery which we ate half of this afternoon and saved the other half for breakfast tomorrow morning. I’m going to sleep feeling a bit anxious, probably because life as we know it is about to change drastically in 4 days from now. Fortunately I have Pickles by my side reassuring me that all is well and that we’re going to be just fine. Between Pickles’ comforting words and the promise of another stop at the bakery in the morning, I might just be able to calm my nerves enough to get some sleep.
The completion of our 2015 thru-hike of the PCT is dedicated to our dear friend Susan and her 2-year-old son, Daniel. Daniel was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia in April of this year, and we hope to help alleviate some of the financial burden of treatment by petitioning readers of our blog to please consider making a financial contribution to Susan and her family by going to this website: https://www.gofundme.com/t4mdbck. Any amount is greatly appreciated. Susan keeps an incredibly well-written blog documenting her journey that you can find at http://littledanielsbigadventure.blogspot.com. Daniel is a little fighter and we wouldn’t be surprised to find him out here on the trail one day. Thank you in advance for your generosity and may you and your family stay well.