Day 130, 31.5 miles
Lake Chelan National Recreation Area North Cascades National Forest
There was an eerie light as we hiked through the woods this morning. The sky was dim and the sun was orange. The air was smokey from the nearby forest fire. Ash fell around us like fluffy snow.
Nemo was going to take us on a different route this morning. Two miles of the old PCT. Little did we know that it was going to be an adventure. First we had to cross Vista creek, big but doable with a log crossing. Then 2 miles through mossy woods. I could hear the Suiattle River long before I could see it. My heart started racing. Do we have to cross that loud roar? When we got to it, it was worse than I could have imagined. I’ve made it all this way, now I’m going to die getting washed away in a raging, icy river. There is no way I’m gonna cross that! ……but I did.
There was a large tree that had fallen across, but it didn’t reach the other side. Running-Back had a brilliant idea. We both maneuvered another log along the fallen tree and managed to place it so it spanned the 12 foot rushing watery gap. Nemo had been scouting for a crossing and returned just as Running-Back and I were leaping from our placed log to the rocky safety of the other side. So exciting. I felt like a kid again.
I’m having a blast hiking with these two. Next few miles were switchbacks up and away from the smoke. The three of us sped past many hikers along the way. Nemo called us Team Rush Hour. We were rewarded with spectacular views at the top.
We didn’t stop all day. No breaks. The last 16 miles of gradual downhill to Highbridge seemed like it would never end. I was tired. At Highbridge we caught the last shuttle bus ride at 6:15pm to Stehekin. Burger, beer, homemade ice cream. Then we wondered around in the pitch black looking for the overflow camping behind Visitors Centre. Then more searching for the bathrooms. 45 minutes of stumbling around in the darkness. It’s very difficult to orient yourself in a new place at nightfall. It’s much easier to find any old spot to park your tent in the dark when you’re out in the wilderness.