Wednesday 24th August
Start: Stehekin, off mile 2569
End: Rainy Pass trailhead, mile 2589
Although Stehekin is a wonderfully charming place, we were ready to get back onto the trail today. This is our last section, and we want to finish it. Canada is nearly within reach – something that I’m not sure I ever really imagined I would be saying at the start.
The bus made one final stop at the bakery where we piled out and stocked up. Maybe we should have left the oatmeal and dehydrated food out of the bag completely and just brought cakes for this last stretch. I was so happy for the last espresso. Joining us on the bus was Dan, and our new friends from Portland Leslie and Denis (aka Cartwheel and Neander-Tall). There was a really feeling of camaraderie as we all have the same goal in sight.
Due to the bus schedule it was a relatively late start, so I think nearly 20 miles was not too shabby. The day took us mostly through The Northern Cascades National Park, and predominately uphill. The climb was not too steep, but relentless in the sun. We wound up and through a valley on the verge of Fall, traversing around the base of Frisco Mountain. The views were not very far-reaching, mostly looking down into a valley, or surrounded in trees. Sadly those pesky black flies were out in mass!
At Maple Creek we enjoyed a delicious lunch of turkey hoagie, crisps and cookies (all from the bakery of course). Whilst sat virtually on the trail for lack of shade, we met the first two park rangers we have seen on the entire trail. They asked where we intended on camping (the Park runs on a permit system), and seemed disappointed when we said we would be out of the boundary in time for bed. They are on a 4-day ‘foot patrol’, out hiking and getting paid for it. Seemed like a sweet gig to me!
Upon reaching Rainy Pass trailhead I was sad to think that we had turned down probably the best offer of trail magic we had received. Yesterday Loren, who we had met on the trail back in Oregon, had offered to meet us here and take us back to his house for a meal, shower and a bed. It would have been amazing. Sadly we had just gotten back on the trail and couldn’t loose another day, as Loren and his wife Becky live over an hour away. I hope we are able to see them again one day.
Our camp for tonight is not a glamorous one – our tent is sitting behind the Highway 20 trailhead toilet block. We did intend to hike on for a few miles. But after we had cooked dinner we had lost momentum. Dan is also camped next to us, so we had to keep him company. I just hope we don’t have a load of trucks driving up and down with their air brakes on all night…
Miles to Canada: 61.2
Miles to Finish: 70