Today was one of the roughest days for me on the trail. The weather was rainy all day which contributed to a slow morning packing up camp. I planned a 25 mile day to get to Soldier Creek and a campsite. I didn’t get out of camp until about 8:45am, which would have still given me enough time to knock out 25 miles before dark. However, after I got past Warner Valley Campground the southbound trail markings for staying on the PCT through be Boiling Springs area was pretty poor and I ended up getting off trail and didn’t realize it for about a mile. That also meant I had to spend that same distance getting back to the trail. This little unexpected detour cost me about an hour in the morning, not time well spent on a rainy day.
After that ordeal I cruised along at my normal clip and eventually reached the North Fork of the Feather River where I grabbed some water and took a quick lunch. This was about 2pm and I had gone 12 PCT miles from camp and 14-15 total miles. I ran through the next 13 miles as quick as I could but didn’t manage to beat the sunset to camp. I got to camp at 7:30pm and was pretty upset with myself for getting off trail earlier in the day as it meant the difference between getting to camp with daylight left and head lamping in. It also ended up being the difference between getting a dry tent up at camp and having to set up my tent in a pouring rain, which started in around 7pm.
Here’s hoping tomorrow is a smoother hike.
I woke up this morning to my alarm at 6:30am in my parents house in Redding, CA. My mother was all set to drive me out to Old Station, CA where I would hike south to the point she picked me up when I got violently ill earlier in the trip, near Quincy, CA. We got on the road after I packed my pack up, it was around 8am. We drove on Highway 44 and arrived about an hour and 15 minutes later. We had breakfast at JJ’s Cafe at Old Station before I started hiking.
Finally, at 10am, I was on the trail and heading south. It was a little weird at first thinking about going south on this trail that I have hiked over 2,400 miles going north on. After a while though it was all the same as before. One foot in front of the other.
Despite my later start I still managed to knock out 20 miles and arrived at camp right at 6pm. Tomorrow I am planning to do at least 25. I feel like I could be doing 30 mile days through this perry flat area after what we’ve been hiking in Washington the last month or so but looking at the water report it really doesn’t make sense to do much more than 25 tomorrow. It definitely feels weird being back in an area where I have to think about where the next good water source is again and especially where to camp in order to not have to dry camp. We will see how quickly I end up moving in the morning, if I am making good enough time I might be able to go further.
I spent the day visiting with my family and friends. I woke up around 8 and hung around my parents’ place and then my mom and I got ready to leave the house. We went to a sports bar in town to see if it would be a good spot for a family and friends get together. We enjoyed a nice lunch and decided it was a great spot to enjoy the Monday night football games and grab dinner and drinks. My aunt Veronica, who met us way back around Burney, CA, joined us for lunch which was nice.
After lunch we went to visit with my grandparents in town. It was my grandpa’s 83rd birthday today so it was really nice to visit with him for a while today. I was very thankful we got to see them.
After a while we got a call from my dad who was done with work and we met up with him and went to Fall River Tap House for a beer. They have a beer called Pacific Crest Ale which j felt like I needed to try given the circumstances. Afterwards, we went back to the sports bar to grab table for dinner. We had a few drinks there and then got food. Eventually, family and friends started filing in. My aunt Veronica joined us again for dinner. Family friends Todd & Debbie and Jim & Nicole also came out. My friends from way back in middle school Sean, Adam, and Brett all came out too, which was awesome. It was so good to see everyone again but also hard to leave them when we had to get home so my dad could get to bed since he gets up so early for work. I also had to get back since I have to get up and on the road to get a full day of hiking in.
Here are some pics from the gathering:
We found out that none of the rental car companies in Wenatchee, WA allow for one-way rentals. It appears their fleets are too small to lose cars to other locations. This fact locked me is both into having to find another way to get out of town. I still had the Amtrak app on my phone and checked that and found a reasonably priced ticket on a train from Wenatchee to Seattle. Unfortunately, the train left Wenatchee at the unreasonable time of 5:35am. We begrudgingly set our alarms for 4:30am and after this abrupt awakening we walked about 1.5 miles from our hotel to the train station.
We hopped on the train and were on our way west. We arrived in Seattle’s King Street station and had another 1.5 mile walk north to reach the closest car rental office. On the bright side, Pike’s Place Market wasn’t far off the walk so we stopped in for a quick touristy lunch before getting to the rental car office. The plan was to rent a car and then drop Pie off at the airport to hopefully get an earlier flight home (his isn’t scheduled until tomorrow afternoon). Turns out everybody wanted to charge $300 or more for a rental car out of Seattle to drop the car in Redding! I morally and financially could’t pay that much for a two day rental car so we scrambled to put together plan B. Pie caught the light rail straight to the airport and I booked a BoltBus to Portland for $18.50. I will either get a rental car in Portland tomorrow or hop on the train from Portland to Redding. The train doesn’t leave Portland until 2:25pm so I have some time to figure out the situation tomorrow morning before I have to fall back on the train. Oh the joys of modern travel, I should just walk it…
Just under 10 miles stood between us and High Bridge, between us and Stehekin, between Pie and the end of his trail. With clear skies, we cowboy camped last night in order to get a quick start in the morning. Pie was up and out of camp at 7am and I was about 15 minutes behind him. He had no intentions of stopping until he reached High Bridge apparently as I didn’t catch him until nearly the very end of the 10ish miles. We got to High Bridge just before 10:30am so we had 2 hours to kill before the bus to Stehekin would come around. We just mingled with the other hikers that were waiting for the bus, there was about 10 others heading into town. It seems as though the fire closure bunched up a lot of hikers in the area.
Eventually the bus shows up and we all went down to Stehekin, with a stop at the famous bakery first, of course. Once down at the landing we had just 30 minutes to kill before the ferry left for Chelan. We hopped on the boat and were on our way to town. After the long 4 hour ferry was over we happened to be waiting for our bags next to a lovely couple, Dave and Vicky, who were on their way home to Wenatchee. They offered us a ride down with them, which was incredibly nice of them and lucky for us. Turned out, after some car conversation, that they were the parents of Kyle, the guy at Arlsburg Sports in Wenatchee that stayed open after closing so I could get my bag after mine bit the big one. This family is full of saints helping us on our way, how we were lucky enough to cross paths with them twice in one hike is beyond me. Thanks universe.
So we made it to Wenatchee and got a hotel room. Then we discovered there were no rental car places in town that had cars available for one way travel, so we started looking for alternative options. I found he Amtrak route from here to Seattle for the morning but it leaves at 5:35am, so in order to make that I have got to get to bed ASAP!
Yesterday’s bigger day set us up really nicely to get in to High Bridge by noon in order to catch the last bus to Stehekin before the ferry leaves for Chelan at 2pm. We just needed to do our usual 20 mile day and then a 10 mile day to get there.
Pie was out of camp around 8am and I was out at 8:30am, again. I caught up with him by the first break we took around 10:30am. From there we had a bit of a climb up to the top of the ridge we were on before we could take a lunch. We reached the top about 1:15pm. This would be Pie’s last significant (1,000+ feet) of his PCT! I still have a good climb in my homework section around the town of Belden to look forward to.
After lunch we started the drop down towards Agnes Creek, which is the creek we will follow basically all the way into High Bridge. This is also the area that was closed because of the Blankenship Fire. As we dropped down to the valley floor and began to follow Agnes Creek there was still some lingering smoke and the air smelled like a camp fire still. We set our camp goal at Cedar Camp along the creek which was a 21.7 mile day for us and left 9.6 miles to go to get to High Bridge tomorrow.
The sun came out! It was out all day today! Pie was up and at ’em as we had a 26 mile day on the docket. He bolted out of camp by 7am. I didn’t manage to get out of camp until about 8am, this is the biggest gap between departure times we have ever had.
The day started with a climb of about 1,500 feet to the top of a ridge with some great views. It was nice to finally get a view of something as all we had been seeing was grey for days. I took about an hour at the top to dry out my tent and ground cloth giving Pie an even larger head start on me. After my break I cruised down to Milk Creek that was down in the valley after the morning’s climb. This was a brief drop as there was a substantial climb coming out of the creek basin to get back up to the next ridge. I got to Milk Creek at about noon and decided to take my lunch at the top of the climb, which I reached about 2:45pm. After a quick lunch I was back on the trail a bit after 3pm as I hadn’t yet caught up to Pie.
After this large climb the trail levels out for a while before dropping down into the Suiattle River valley where we would be camping tonight. I caught Pie on the descent down to the river at about 5pm. We still had about 6 miles to go from the point where I caught up to him. I reached our camp spot at 7:15pm and Pie cruised in at 7:45pm. I don’t have much information on how Pie’s day went since we were so far off and didn’t take any of our breaks together today. Once I did catch him though, he did mention that early in the day he took a spill on the trail that ripped the previously in tact leg of his rain pants (which I guess are rain shorts now?) and put a hole in the knee of his pants. His knee looked a little swollen still and he admitted it was sore, hopefully it improves with rest tonight and we can do the 21.5 we need to do tomorrow to set up to reach Stehekin in time to catch the ferry to Chelan so he can catch his flight on time.
We were optimistic about the weather turning a corner as we went to sleep last night. We were decidedly less optimistic about that when we awoke this morning. The sky was grey, the air was wet, the plants were wet, the tents were wet, all was wet.
We left camp together about 8am and got off to our usual start. We hike for about 2 hours and took a break, then a few hours later we found some shelter in some trees for lunch. Lunch was after 12 miles so that was a great morning given the circumstances. After lunch we started a climb in the mist, we couldn’t see even the next ridge over in any direction. Eventually we reached the top of our afternoon climb and descended down into a valley where we crossed rover after creek after stream. Around 4pm the skies finally decided to open up and show us the sun for the first time today. The weather report when we were last in town said showers off and on through today and sunny for tomorrow. Well, the rain has been mostly on and we have our doubts about the sunny forecast. I think we are both taking a “I’ll believe it when I see it” approach.
We have made it into Glacier Peak Wilderness, but you wouldn’t know it from the lack of views we have had so far. We are doing all he climbs up to passes and high ridge lines but not getting any of the views, so we are really hoping for some sun tomorrow. We are camped right near Glacier Creek, which puts us about 57.5 miles shy of Stehekin. Tomorrow is shaping up to need to be a big day of we are going to make it to High Bridge on time to catch the bus to Stehekin in time to catch the ferry to Chelan. If we miss that bus it’s going to be a tight timeline for Pie to catch his flight in Seattle. We probably need to do a 26 mile day tomorrow to give ourselves a realistic shot at making it. Pie isn’t sure he’s got a 26 in him but if we can get the sun put, the elevation map doesn’t look too daunting, so I am confident he’s going to be able to knock it out.
With the weather not yet showing signs of improvement we planned a 20 mile day for ourselves. We packed up our wet gear and shoved off, Pie around 8:10am and me at 8:30am. I hiked for 2 hours and then took a break for some snacks as the morning rain finally let up some. After my break I went for another hour and a half before the skies opened up and showed me the sun. I hadn’t yet caught Pie but decided I didn’t want to lose the opportunity to dry my tent and ground cloth put so I took an early lunch and laid my stuff out in the sun. A hiker I met on my first break, Delux from Luxemburg, passed me. Apparently he saw Pie just around the corner from where I was because Pie came and said hey about 10 minutes later. He was also drying his gear out maybe 200 feet down the trail!
After we both had dry tents again we got moving about 1pm. We had a bit of a climb to start the afternoon and then we dropped down to Pass Creek, near Cady Pass. From there we had another climb, only about 1,300 feet to get to Lake Sally Ann, where we would camp for the night.
Now, you may be wondering why I added “Pie falls apart at the seams” into the title of this post. Well, I don’t believe I have mentioned it as yet but Pie forgot his trekking poles (again) on the bus that took us to Seattle. Then he forgot his hat in the hotel room in Seattle (he now wears a Stevens Pass hat that he bought when we got dropped off by the bus). Today, Pie had to cut one end of his rain pants off as the left leg had a pretty substantial tear in it that was tripping him up as he walked. The benefit of cutting the pants is that now he has a real early 90s LL Cool J vibe going on. Commenting on the matter, Pie said “We’ve gotta get to Stehekin ASAP, I am falling apart here man!” We should be in Stehekin in about 4 days, we just have to hold Poe together until then.