Catching up: Post 4/4
Sep 6: 2513 -2538
Today was Cooper’s birthday – he turned 8 – and we didn’t have anything special packed for him. He said he didn’t mind since there was no rain when we woke up. A quick up and over Fire Creek Pass led us down through some clouds to one of the most beautiful lakes in Washington (if not the world): Mica Lake. The clouds blew away as we sat down for a snack, and we were riveted. She sure is pretty.
We both had memories of the trail past Mica Lake being a big brushy mess. I don’t think either of us was super excited about the miles ahead. But it wasn’t nearly as bad as we remembered! We hiked down to Milk Creek, then back up up up, landing at Marmotville for lunch. I had forgotten that we had camped here once, but Rob had a distinct memory of trying to hang our food between two rocks.
The rest of the day’s hike was neither riveting nor thrilling – except for two things:
1) checking out how the new reroute of the PCT and the billion dollar bridge across the Suiattle River were holding up. Both looked good still, we give one thumb up.
2) we passed through a grove of big ol’ trees, and though I always threaten to count the rings of the cut ones, there never seems to be enough time. I was super stoked that someone did the counting for me on this one (though I will zoom in and double-check for accuracy when I get home and will also note that I do not condone forget graffiti):
We camped just across the Suiattle, bunking next to our BC buddies, B-Line and Claw Hammer.
Sep 7: 2538 – 2564
The morning began cool and misty as we crawled up out of the depths of the Suiattle River. It mostly didn’t rain today, which was nice, but the low clouds and most kept he majority of the bid views at bay.
We crossed through Cooper’s Bowl – a stunning spot that Cooper can disappear into – and wound through a beautiful Meadow at the base of some wicked cool craggy rock peaks. Off of Suiattle Pass, there is a trail that goes to Cloudy Pass – a different hike for a different day, maybe before fall sets in this year?
Crusing down alongside a creek, I had to stop to pee, and because two people were right behind us, we did a full pull-over and sit while we waited for them to pass. This is noteworthy because it led me to a creek side viewpoint that we definitely did not see our previous time through here, and would have walked right on by it – what a great treat to get a secret view of this massive waterfall down below us!
As we passed by Mt. Blankenship (for reals!), we had a short blast of rain. It was over before a full soaking occurred and all three of us were relieved when it let up. I may have to cancel my Washingtonian status if I keep wussing out about the rain like this…
If you zoom in, you might find a Cooper
Sep 8: 2564 – 2569
Town day, last resupply box, a bed, and the fabled Stehekin bakery had us up and packed super fast this morning. We had five miles to clock to catch the 9:15 bus into town – no problem! We flew down the trail, skipped across High Bridge, and checked our watches: 8:55. Perfect! Crossed the road, walked over to where we saw some other hikers waiting for the bus, and – I’m sure you’ve guessed already – da-da-dah!, 500!
He was just running into town and then back out, but we were both glad we got to see good ol’ 500 one more time.
The bus pulled up and there was a mini hiker reunion, as hikers returning to the trail got off and mingled with the hikers going into town. Long Haul (the guy who chatted with David Levin in Packwood), Blaze (a really down-to-earth guy who I don’t think I’ve written about but whom we’ve run into in and off since mile 702), and Bad Mash (a guy we camped with just south of Mt. Adams, who was mostly excited to say hi to Cooper again) were some of the familiar faces. They should all be hitting the border on Sunday, and I look forward to reading their final words in the last trail register.
Time to load the bus and – guess what? Dogs are full price. $7 one way into town. We initially thought that was steep, but since neither of us walked the 11 miles into town, the price point must have been fine.
The bus driver makes a very convenient stop at the bakery (1.5 miles outside of town) every time he passes it. Oh. My. Word. Everything we heard was true. Don’t waste your time saving $1 on the day-olds, if you are there, go all out for the freshies. Best sticky bun ever (sorry, mom, but I think you’d agree).
The rest of the day was town-ereffic: resupply box (thanks for the refreshments, ladies!), lunch, shower, nap, more farewells to 500, and some creative grocery shopping for our kitchenette dinner.
Our room came with an extra bed in a loft, and we offered it to the BC guys during a moment of rain. They showed up to claim their bed, and… I’ll admit, it was great to hang out and hear stories of their lives both on trail and odd, but it was also strange sharing quarters with people we don’t know. Not bad, just strange. It was nice to be able to share the space and the shower and fridge, and it was nice knowing that two hikers we enjoy had a better night’s sleep than if they had free-camped next to the road.
Sep 9: 2569 – 2586
Speaking of strange – it was strange to wake up with people we don’t know that well. Not bad, just strange.
The morning went fast as we made breakfast, packed, checked out, and posted a quick blog before catching the bus back to the trail (and the bakery).
We planned a short day today, knowing that we wouldn’t be on the trail early, and knowing that we would be weighed down with bakery products, both in our bellies and in our packs.
Most of the day’s hike was through North Cascades National Park – a park that is kind enough to make an allowance for dogs in the park, if they are traveling on the PCT and are on a leash.
We had our first ranger encounter of the entire trip (one had an old GoLite pack!), and were reminded that Cooper had to be on a leash through the park boundary.
The sun was out, the views were clear, and our hiking was swift, fueled by cinnamon rolls. Before we knew it (around 4:30), we were at our destination for the night. Wha? We hardly knew what to do with ourselves. We didn’t want to travel farther, because it would just put us next to Hwy 20, so we relaxed a little, took a rinse in the creek, and decided to drink the wine we were gifted tonight instead of on our last night in the woods (extra weight, didn’t want to carry it for two more days). The wine was delicious and a perfect end to a pleasant day. We are both pretty jazzed about tomorrow, since we already know that tomorrow’s miles are going to be supernovaesque in their epicness.
Mmmm, Stehekin bakery goodness