Day 157-160: Savoring the Last Stretch
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.
Zigzagging down the mountainside, we passed Mica Lake, which was mostly frozen on the surface.
As we continued downward, the fog thickened.
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.
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.
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.
Then we began our big climb of the day walking through a beautiful misty forest.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Only 80 miles to Canada!