September 20, 2015
High Bridge Ranger Station – Stehekin (2580.0) to Tentsite at Porcupine Creek (2601.3)
21.3 PCT miles today, 2 non-PCT miles today
2637.9 miles total
Today’s Elevation Gain/Loss: + 5,729 ft, – 2,177 ft
Today marked the start of our final section on the PCT, from Stehekin to Manning Park. We now have less than 70 miles until the end, and it feels more real and exciting and scary and sad than ever before. Today actually went almost too well. I was going to say that if things continue this way then I won’t want the hike to end after all, but within the last hour the rain has come back in full force and so I am once again reminded of why I’ll be excited to get to Canada.
This morning Pickles and I made the wise decision to pack up nice and early and then walk two miles from Stehekin Landing (where the lodge, store, campground, and lake are) to the Stehekin Pastry Company. The walk was all along the lakeshore and we had the privilege of watching the sunrise color the sky, clouds, and mountains with pinks and golds. We didn’t see another person, but we did watch flocks of geese swimming on the surface of the water and admired some beautiful log cabin homes complete with flourishing gardens and meticulously landscaped yards. We got to the bakery at exactly 7:30 and were the first customers through the door. We spent the next hour filling up on coffee and some of the tastiest calories we’ve ever eaten. I know what I said yesterday about taking everyone’s opinions with a grain of salt, but it is fact, not opinion that this is the best bakery on trail. I dare anyone to say otherwise. After finishing off yesterday’s pie, Pickles and I split a pesto, swiss cheese, and mushroom puff pastry and then an entire cinnamon roll. I actually could have eaten more, but the bus arrived just in time to drive us the rest of the way back to the trailhead. We got on trail with our friends Hitch Bait, Pops, Dutchess, Sherlock, Juggs, and Power Thighs, and began up a long climb that lasted all day and will actually continue tomorrow morning. The weather was muggy and warm, but fortunately it didn’t rain until this evening. Pickles and I felt great after filling up on so many calories and we enjoyed hiking along pale blue rivers on an unusually well-maintained trail.
As if on cue, it started to rain right as we neared Rainy Pass, and when we got to the trailhead, we passed some of the hikers we had seen in the morning who had just made the plan to hitch into Mazama to stay at a trail angel’s house. We passed up the offer to come along, mostly because we were feeling a little nostalgic for tent time and didn’t want to give up one of our final 3 nights in our little orange home. We hiked on a couple miles until we found the perfect spot right by water, and just as we made the decision to stop, Power Thighs arrived and joined us.
We all agreed that today was nice and easy and that, if the next few days are anything like today, we might as well begin celebrating the end. I was afraid that the last week, and especially the last few days, would crawl by at a painfully slow pace, but instead I feel like they’re flying by quicker than I know how to handle, and instead of feeling relieved, I’m actually surprisingly bummed. Before I know it the PCT will be a thing of the past and I’ll probably be homesick for it within the month. My feet beg to differ, but right now I really feel like I could go for more than just a few more days of this incredible journey. Fortunately, as Pickles and I keep reminding ourselves, we have a lot to look forward to in the weeks and months to come, and rather than see this as the end of the adventure, we’re choosing to see it as the start of another, one that doesn’t involve venturing out into the cold rain when we have to pee in the middle of the night.
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.