Elevation- 1,112 ft
Distance Traveled Today- 19.5 miles
Distance Traveled Total- 2,569.4 miles
Weather/Temp- clear 70s
Pain level- low
Spirits/Morale- new shoes!
Days without shower- 6
As I predicted, it was a cold, windy, wet night, with a morning of the same; but it burned off quick, and was soon another beautiful, Indian summer day.
Stehikan sits on the shores of Lake Chelan, the largest lake in the state, and the third deepest lake in the country; number one is Crater Lake, and number two is Lake Tahoe. I’ve been fortunate to see all three of those on this journey.
As I said previously, the only ways into Stehikan are boat, sea plane, and by foot. All vehicles in Stehikan were brought there by way of barge. The town also sits within North Cascades National Park, and as such, there is a large ranger presence, and an even larger tourist presence.
The 20 miles I had to hike today wouldn’t put me in Stehican; they would put me at High Bridge on the Stehikan River, 11 miles from the town itself. From High Bridge I would have to catch a shuttle bus provided by the park (for a fee) that runs at specified times between the bridge, the town, and a couple other locations in between. Two of the shuttle times that fell into my range of arrival were 3 pm and 6 pm. I wanted to catch the 3 pm, but wasn’t going to be broken up if I missed it and had to wait until 6pm.
With the day being all down hill and flat, we made it to high bridge with 15 minutes to spare on the 3 pm bus; we took two short breaks all day.
While crossing over High Bridge, I happened to look down to check out the river; it was chock full of red, Coho Salmon. My jaw dropped as this incredibly anxious and dismayed feeling washed over me. I didn’t have a lick of fishing gear on me for the first time on the entire hike. I think a part of me died up there on that bridge when I realized I could do nothing about the salmon below. So I made a vow to myself to find something in Stehican, then come back and catch a salmon, some way, some how, before I hiked on.
On the way into town, the bus stopped at a bakery about two miles out of town; a bakery that will remain my favorite bakery in the world, but I’ll elaborate on that at a later date. Stehikan supposedly had next to nothing in regards to resupply, so my plan was to resupply with fresh baked goods from this bakery for the final stretch. I didn’t do my full resupply on this short stopover, but I did get a few things; some giant homemade cinnamon rolls and sticky buns just to name a couple.
So after the pit stop, I got back on the bus for the rest of the short ride, my baked goodies stacked up on the seat next to me. A local elderly woman sat in front of me. She had gotten on the bus a little earlier, but didn’t get off for the 5 min stop at the bakery. As we rolled up to the main part of town (which didn’t amount to much) after a bumpy ride, I set about to collect my pack and treats. I hadn’t noticed, but out of my 3 cinnamon rolls, and 2 sticky buns, the two sticky buns had rolled off the seat (they were wrapped in cellophane) onto the bus floor. One was right next to my feet, but the other was no where to be found. There were 3 other hikers on the bus, and I asked them if the rogue sticky bun had rolled under any of their seats. Negative. At this point, none of the maybe 7 people has gotten off the bus yet and I’m on my hands and knees, looking the floor of the bus up and down, while making it very clear that I’m looking for my derelict sticky bun, and not crazy. This whole time, the old woman in front of me is silent and unmoving. Less than a minute goes by as I and some of the other riders looked for the sticky bun before giving up. It wasn’t anywhere on the floor of that small bus. I simply accepted the sad fact that my sticky bun had somehow vanished through a portal into another realm, never to be seen again, just like half my socks when I do laundry.
I filed off the bus, still perplexed, looking around outside, as if an answer to what happened might reveal itself. Low and behold…it did. My eyes fell on the elderly woman who was now unassumingly strolling down the road; clutched in her right hand swinging at her side, my sticky bun. I was relieved at the fact that I now had an explanation for the mysterious disappearance, but simultaneously appalled that I was betrayed by a grandmotherly figure. Next dilemma…do I pursue? Heck no! Granny can have it. All she did was confirm my initial sticky bun suspicions…these things must be delicious. Delicious enough to steal for. Delicious enough to commit a crime for. A real crime? No, but a crime of baked, sticky passion; the best kind of crime. Enjoy my sticky bun you sneaky old lady!
That interesting experience aside, I can say that Stehican is easily in my top 5 favorite pockets of civilization on the entire Pacific Crest Trail. I think this is mostly due to my timing. It was very obvious this place was a tourist nightmare during the heart of the season, but in early fall, it was a ghost town preparing to shut down.
I sat on the front deck of the lodge that was situated on the shore of Lake Chelan, sipping a cream soda as the sun sank behind the mountains, and sea planes took off and landed as they transported people to and from the nearest civilization, 50 miles away on the other end of the lake. It was one of the most uniquely beautiful, pristine sights I’ve ever seen from within the boundaries of civilization.
I’m now camped out in a designated area behind the lodge and ranger station. I think I’ll spend the day here tomorrow, find fishing gear, catch the bus up to the bakery, eat, hang out, then catch it back to the trail head, attempt to catch my salmon, camp at the trail head, then hike out the next day.
I did manage to get my new shoes today. It felt bittersweet throwing away my old ones, but these new ones feel like Christmas come early. Only 80 miles till Canada…