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Day 157-160: Savoring the Last Stretch

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Day 157: Fire Creek Pass (Mile 2530)-Suiattle River (Mile 2549.5); 19.5 miles

High above fog-filled valleys, we slowly packed up our possessions as the sun rose. The sky glowed.

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Zigzagging down the mountainside, we passed Mica Lake, which was mostly frozen on the surface.

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As we continued downward, the fog thickened.

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When the trail finally hit the valley floor, it popped right back up the other side. After climbing countless switchbacks, we celebrated the top with a hearty lunch.

Lunch finished, we were back on the roller coaster, descending a multitude of switchbacks.

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Near the bottom of the valley, we began walking on a brand new stretch of the Pacific Crest Trail. The bridge across the Suiattle River had washed out several years ago, and its much sturdier replacement was situated several miles downstream, requiring the construction of additional trail. It was fascinating to experience this brand new trail. We loved the massive trees we found there, ten feet in diameter, and surely at least a thousand years old.

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We camped near the new Suiattle River bridge.

Day 158: Suiattle River (Mile 2549.5)-Cedar Camp (Mile 2570.5); 21 miles

After packing up, we crossed the long, solid bridge over the Suiattle.

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Then we began our big climb of the day walking through a beautiful misty forest.

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As we gained elevation, the sky became blue and bright. After 3500 feet of climbing, we reached Suiattle Pass. We lunched there and enjoyed a rest after all our hard work.

Over the pass and into the descent, we smelled and saw smoke, but the fire producing it must have been distant.

Descending further into a deep valley, we reached the south fork of Agnes Creek. The bridge over the creek was destroyed, but a nearby tree had fallen, creating a straight, long, sturdy bridge of its own. We appreciated all the effort required to build the massive bridge we’d crossed earlier in the day, but the natural simplicity of the fallen tree appealed to us very much as well.

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Losing yet more elevation, we walked through ferns and large trees. We were tired when we reached Cedar Camp, but we knew Canada was growing near.

Day 159: Cedar Camp (Mile 2570.5)-Stehekin (Mile 2580); 9.5 miles plus resupply

Our morning walk led us along Agnes Creek, which sometimes rushed by next to us, and sometimes dropped into a ravine far below. The valley was lush and bright with fall colors.

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North Star especially enjoyed the rainbow of colors. While living in the San Francisco Bay Area, we had missed watching the changing seasons, and now we were excited to observe fall colors daily.

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Shortly after the PCT entered North Cascades National Park, we reached a road where we planned to catch a bus into the town of Stehekin. The bus arrived right on schedule, and we had a little reunion as other thru hikers disembarked. We wished our friends Bucket, Bone Lady, Swiss Cheese, Maddog Murphy, Bacon Bit, and Gumby well on their last section before Canada.

The bus made a five-minute pit stop at the famous local bakery, where we literally bought one of each pastry. Next stop was The Garden, a small-time organic farm and goat ranch. We loved everything about this beautiful little homestead, from the garden to the bee hives. We bought delicious goat cheese, yogurt, and sweet ripe peaches.

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Off the bus at Stehekin Landing, we began our town chores. While checking email at the end of the day, Shutterbug was excited to learn that another of his nature photographs was featured on The Nature Conservancy’s homepage. It’s always a boost for us to share our love of nature with a broader audience.

Day 160: Zero in Stehekin

With no hike-ending snowstorms in the forecast, we decided to take a rest day in Stehekin. It was an idyllic place, and everyone was very friendly. We were mostly occupied with working on blog entries, but we also picked up our last food resupply boxes and passports.

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Only 80 miles to Canada!

30 Comments Post a comment
  1. Jane #

    Can’t believe you’re almost there!!! An amazing trip and you too are awesome! Congrats on the NC using your photo, Shutterbug!

    September 26, 2012
    • Thanks Jane! The photo on the Nature Conservancy’s homepage was of a rose wet with rain droplets. Very appropriately, Anna and I had been on a long walk in SF preparing for this trip when I snapped that photo.

      October 3, 2012
  2. Denise #

    Congratulations! You’re so close to Canada. Enjoy Stehekin, it’s such a charming little town. Your trip has been so inspiring and the pictures are awesome. Thanks for all your work in keeping us posted by blog.

    September 26, 2012
    • Thanks Denise! We had a wonderful time in Stehekin. It was the perfect place to prepare for a strong finish. So glad you found our adventure inspiring. We are looking at some exciting plans for the future!

      October 3, 2012
  3. The emotions that must be running through your mind as your feet bring you closer to Canada! Stehekin is such an enchanting place with GREAT food. Congratulations on more of your photos being viewed by a wider audience, that is so great.
    This collection of photos are stunning…I could feel the mist of the fog on my face as I was reading it. I just love this part of Washington, it is beyond beautiful, especially in fall.
    Wishing you both well on the last 80 miles. I also wanted to tell you, a friend of mine’s husband was walking the Snoqualmie to Stevens Pass section of the PCT and met you while waiting for the bus at Stevens Pass. His name was Ryan and his friend Mike was hiking with him. I thought it was great they met the two of you…keep enjoying the trail :)

    September 26, 2012
    • Stehekin and the rest of Washington were amazing! Thanks for the good wishes — the end of the PCT was really good, especially with the larch trees turning bright yellow. It was fun meeting Ryan too. How cool that you know him! 

      October 3, 2012
  4. wow, those photos are fantastic. i especially loved the first one. enjoy your travels :) sounds amazing

    September 26, 2012
  5. audreyvs #

    I can’t believe that there are less than 80 days left. You guys are so amazing! I live vicariously through your blog. The scenery and the switchbacks are amazing. I imagine this has been a life-changing experience! Let us know how you’re doing. I will miss checking in on you every so often. Take care!

    September 26, 2012
    • Cheers, Audrey! It really has been incredible. We have so many amazing memories now. It’s a powerful thing to live in the wilderness. 

      We’ll be in SF in a few weeks. I’ll let you and other EPA friends know when we are around. Maybe we can all go out to lunch and catch up. 

      October 3, 2012
  6. You’re so close!!!

    September 26, 2012
  7. Edward Partridge #

    Hello too the both of U. I just would like to say THANK YOU so very much for taking me along on your amazing trip. I have followed your blog from the start, I looked forward to every entry over the summer. And the pix are so beautiful I can see why Shutterbug’s photos are on The Nature Conservancy’s homepage. Congratulations and thank you again. I’ll miss you both.

    September 26, 2012
  8. Jan #

    One kind of each pastry–awesome! I LOVE the autumn colors. And the tall tall trees. Bittersweet–coming to the end. What a sense of accomplishment, but how will ordinary life compete with waking up to such amazing scenery every morning? What a nice touch to have the bus stop just where you thru hikers would like to go. I wondered if the owners of the small organic farm are former PCT hikers who couldn’t bear to leave the area.

    September 26, 2012
    • So many tasty and beautiful things, indeed! We are sad to leave the trail, but also quite happy to have a good rest. It’s a mix of feelings.

      Your guess is right about the farmer! He hiked the PCT in the 70s, which is how he discovered Stehekin. He was barefoot when he walked out to help us. He seemed deeply content.

      October 3, 2012
  9. Sabrina K. #

    WOW! Just 80 miles left…And again, what fabulous stories your photos tell. They are just awesome. Congratulations, Shutterbug, on your achievement and North Star for assisting in many ways, I’m sure! :-))

    September 26, 2012
    • Thanks Sabrina! North Star wrote much of the text on the blog, and took about 1/3 of the photos as well. We were very much equal partners in hiking and in blogging. Sharing all this made the hike even better!

      October 3, 2012
  10. Margaret #

    Did anyone else see animal snouts in the ice of Mica Lake? Hope you will have more photos from that goat farm in your book — sounds very intriguing.
    Sometimes your pics look like some other country — here, Japan, there, rural England. The images you are packing into your memory cells….

    September 26, 2012
    • We do sometimes feel like we’ve traveled through other countries on the PCT. It’s fascinating to see how various parts of the US can look so different. We never once felt bored!

      October 3, 2012
  11. Mary #

    I love the photo of Anna with those grandfather/grandmother trees. I still can’t imagine walking up and down thousands of feet and making 20 miles or more a day. Wow. I hope you have good weather the rest of the way.

    September 26, 2012
  12. Gondo's Dad (Chuck) #

    Hello North Star and Shutterbug ! It was such a pleasure to meet you at Harts Pass while you took a little breather. Your excitement was so infectious and I’m so excited for your accomplishment to travel through the entire West Coast states of our great country. I love your blog and will continue to read about your adventures and enjoy your beautiful pictures. What a nice way to almost be with you as you experience the trip of a lifetime. By the time you read this you will be there and I can just see your smiles and hear your shouts of joy. Well done you two !

    September 29, 2012
    • Hey there Chuck, we made it! We are very fortunate to have so much natural beauty in the US, and so much wilderness still remaining. It was wonderful to experience it on this trip. Thanks for being a trail angel to so many hikers! It is deeply appreciated. 

      October 3, 2012
  13. Patsy Sofranko #

    I can’t believe you’re almost there. I’ve enjoyed every entry and thought about you daily.
    Checked the internet twice a day to catch any updates. Love the photos…feel like I’ve walked
    with you…..that is in my heart!

    Love….Grandma

    September 30, 2012
    • It’s so wonderful that you could follow us that closely, Grandma! Thanks for the comment. It put a huge smile on my face. Hope to visit you sometime in the next few months. Big hugs!

      October 3, 2012
  14. Suzanne from Berkeley #

    Ok – Either you are in Vancouver or some critter took shutterbug’s phone and made a run for it to the big city….
    Congrats on doing the PCT with such grace and style AND sharing it with all of us. Hope you have found a good farmers’ market and some great little eating spots. Hope you are enjoying views of big water. Perhaps a spin on some rental bikes. (and if you have a chance, may I recommend a visit to see the First Nations museum at UBC. The collection is amazing and the totem poles may remind you of the big woods you were in not long ago.)
    So excited you are done and will truly miss hearing of you adventures.

    October 1, 2012
    • Haha, congrats on being the first person to notice the tracking dot had moved into Canada! 

      Also, thanks for keeping other EPA friends up to date. Karin recently sent me a picture of the map with location arrows and photos surrounding it which you have been updating. Very cool. 

      Vancouver has been a nice place to rest, and thanks for the tips. We ate a lot of yummy things at the Granville Island public market yesterday.

      We are already dreaming up future adventures, so don’t despair! There will be more to come.  

      October 3, 2012
  15. David G. in SF #

    So excited to see that you’re in Vancouver. Congratulations on an amazing accomplishment and thank you for sharing the journey with us! Hope you are having fun in civilization. Vancouver is awesome. Have a great time up there. Also good luck as you move to a new city. Hope you both are feeling great.

    Take care.

    October 1, 2012
    • Thanks Dave! Vancouver is a good city to end the hike in. The diversity, good food, extensive public transit, and location on the water really remind us of SF…just with a Canadian twist, eh?

      October 3, 2012

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