to Oregon border 500 miles
to Stevens Pass We met a
collection of hikers at the lovely tourist town of Stehekin. Some
had come north from California like us whilst others were south bounders
and had just started on their long PCT journey. One of whom was William
Emerson or Marathon Man who was travelling ultra light and intended
to hike the trail in a fast time- we liked his sunshade.
We arrived by taking a bus ride in from the PCT trail road crossing
a few miles away. The bus dropped us right at the bakery- which was
a good start to our stay and great fresh food.
bought some 'super gloop' to repair my boot soles and I would have
to make the repair last until our next stop at Stevens Pass in 100
miles. A combination of 'gloop' and duck tape didn't look too pretty
but would have to do. Stehekin is a tiny lakeside cluster of houses
in a picturesque spot reached by boat from the town of Chelan to the
east. We camped at a free site on a patch of grass next to the laundry
and showers and went for a buffet $6.95 'veggie' buffet dinner at
the quayside lodge. That evening we attended a ranger talk on the
stars and we lay on our sleeping mats gazing upwards - great!
day we were off early to get the 8.15am bus on 21st June back
to the trailhead with six other hikers. We hiked with Brian Sweet
and Walter joined us (his wife, Pat(?) had decided to avoid this section
and was travelling to Stevens Pass by bus) as we headed up the bubbling
Agnes Creek in sunshine. Its not long before we climbed onto snow
again though and we stopped for shelter during some heavy hail and
thunderstorms which eventually forced us to camp below Suiattle Pass
a clear night and we were awake at 6am to see the sun hit the snowfields
around us. Walter told us he was going back to Stehekin so the 3 of
us headed on up the snow slope to Suiattle pass and some grand views
of jagged peaks. After a bit of hunting we located the path descending
3000feet into Miners Creek and the Suiattle River and we stopped here
to dry out our gear and warm up. Above us Glacier Peak blocked the
way south and we must traverse round the mountain anti-clockwise over
many big ups and downs. We ascended 58 zigzags via
Peak upwards in humid drizzly weather hitting snow at about 5,300feet
and into a huge snow bowl. Marathon Man was waiting here and we joined
up with dramatic bubbling clouds on the horizon. A descent down steep
snow on the other side caused some problems- Martina, wearing only
shorts, bum slid down the slope after Brian and succeeded in burning
one cheek of her bottom which we tried to patch up later with dressings.
Our 20miles that day included lots of snow and we were glad to camp
on dry ground down at Milky Creek.
the next morning on 23rd June as we departed at 7.30am
steeply up through snow
hillside with swirling thick cloud all around. Mica Lake was
completely frozen with some lovely turquoise colours and we pumped
drinking water in this wintry scene. Our surroundings were now completely
white as we climbed up in mist to our next saddle- a good navigation
exercise but this was beginning to feel like winter mountaineering!
As we descended we had another fright as Brian Sweet tumbled out of
control down a snow slope just stopping before some felled trees-
he was shaken but unhurt and quite lucky after a 150feet fall.
day continued in the same style- close scrutiny of the maps, compass,
examining dimples in the snow for the sign of previous footprints,
markings in the trees for evidence of path work - all accompanied
with low cloud and rain. We set up a damp tent that night after a
day followed in the same vein- a long journey of exhausting trudging
through wet snow, losing and finding the path, round sides of hills,
aiming for saddles, seeing paths, losing paths,
footsteps, not believing them, spreading out to search for the trail...
Martina seemed particularly tired that day not helped I think by the
dreary weather and conditions. We met Marathon Man again at the end
of the day as we must have overtaken him in the mist- it felt good
that we were travelling faster than him with his ultra light style
and 4.30am starts and that gave us heart that the 3 of us were working
well as a team over the difficult terrain. We came to a surprise at
Cady Pass where we caught up with a group of 6 hikers- looking similarly
tired and wet as ourselves and we hiked on to Pass Creek and camped
June was an epic day. We camped on snow and it rained continually
overnight, everything was damp or wet, my inflatable sleeping mat
had developed a huge bubble which made it difficult to lie on, the
stove was spluttering badly, and a front zip on the tent had failed.
Our walk started into the gloomy slushy
and straight away we were using map and compass contouring round to
the left of a pass but rose too quickly to a saddle. Once up there
we realised we had reached the wrong feature and retraced our steps
before hearing voices. It was the 6 hikers from yesterday plus another-
Kevin O'Leary- who we joined up with to descend snow. Later we all
teamed up as a loose group of 11 hikers sharing the navigational load.
At Wenatchee Pass myself Martina, Brian Sweet and Kevin stopped for
lunch and after some cleaning we got the stove going for some welcome
hot tea in the rain.
rest were ahead and we climbed up into snow following their footprints
up valley. However after an hour or so we realised that we should
rise up right to a ridge and the footsteps were going in the wrong
direction. We followed our instincts and thankfully find the correct
route after 15 minutes. After reaching a snowy meadow, we lose the
way again and only succeed in finding the trail after 1.5 hours searching-
eventually locating the trail a mile further on- the key to the door.
That evening we headed on to camp at Lake Janus which was beautifully
dry and free of snow- so pleased are we to see it that Martina and
I jogged down to it at 8pm after another hard day. It
is now only 9.5 miles to Stevens Pass, our next resupply and we were
optimistic at a low height of 4,300feet with little snow that we could
make it tomorrow.
the next morning was misty and drizzling- would it ever stop! We had
a good dry night anyway but Martina was sick and had had diarrhoea
for the last week. Around 12.30 we made Stevens Pass road in the rain
and managed to hitch down to the east to the tourist town of Leavenworth....
Stevens Pass to Snoqualmie