Plan BBK – Paths and People

PCT Girl Green Lake Mt Hood View View from Purple Creek Trail - Stehekin Tired after a long day

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Day 1:

And so the adventure begins. A long hot climb out of the Columbia Gorge (lowest point on the PCT), legs already feeling the weight. Every time I stopped, Keyla thought we were turning around! She hasn’t figured out this is a one-way kind of hike …

After a long stretch without water and getting thirsty, we had dinner next to the first water source we found (the Halfmile App is handy to locate streams and campsites, even off trail). Tonight we are sleeping right next to the trail on a grassy patch … just because it was there when we had hiked enough. The dog is tired! We did about 18.8 miles today and boy do miles go by slowly 🙂 I think it entailed 4900 feet of climbing today.

Saw one female runner early on with her dog, otherwise no humans.

Day 2:

Despite the fantastic forecast, it started raining last night. Light drops at first, then pouring rain for hours into the morning – the tent was soaked but the inside was dry. But I did not want to get up and pack up in the rain! It was a challenge to get everything back into the backpack without getting it all wet but we hurried and started hiking without breakfast … the trash bag inside the backpack worked to keep the rain out but I also added another plastic bag on the outside, just to be sure.

Yumm Breakfast!When the rain slowed to a sprinkle after about 2 hours of hiking, we had breakfast trailside. The breakfast (ground oats and nuts, chia seeds, raisins, soy milk powder and some chocolate chips) is delicious! It continued to mist for a while and I got pretty hot hiking in the rain jacket. We finally saw some people, a trail crew working on the PCT, around 1pm. We chatted for a few minutes, then moved on. We even crossed paved roads and saw cars!

My goal was a campsite at 20 miles but I didn’t realize that stretch ended with a big climb! At least the tent has almost dried off now. The dog is happy to rest but she was a trooper all day. I hope she’s having fun.

17 miles on average per day is a significant distance and takes 10 hours of solid hiking. I did know that getting into this but am surprised how little rest time this leaves, after camp is set up, dinner cooked etc.

Day 3:

Despite the wet feet, I have had no blisters or other issues (Note: I chose inov-8 Roclite 295 trail running shoes for this hike). However, just from the distance my feet did hurt all night … just a dull ache. I also think the campsite was sloped a bit, and even though I love my mat/sleeping bag setup, that can tax the hips.

I got going very early, having no water to cook breakfast and wanting to cover a few miles first. However, the next water source was further than anticipated and the trail still uphill. I got very thirsty but Keyla didn’t mind … Going 7.5 miles before water and breakfast. She continues to amaze me!Break on Day 1

We found a good spring off the trail, had breakfast and replenished on water. My feet were pretty sore to start with but got worse during the day as the surface got more rocky and the sun made the walk harder. But we made good time and by the time we passed the last road at a horse camp we only had 5 miles left to our destination for the day, Blue Lake. However, the trail got trickier with lots of blowdown. It was climbing and we started to see some snow. Then more blowdowns. More snow.

At some point it became impossible to find the trail so I had to use the phone app (it uses GPS and tells you exactly where the trail is in relation to your position). Some footprints led us for a while; obviously someone had gone right before me. But they were intermittent and I lost them often, spending a lot of time searching for the trail. When the tracks disappeared for good, I looked to my right to see a man (about 65-70 years old) on a knoll a short distance away, with his back to me dealing with his camping stuff. I called out to him but he did not respond. I walked over and addressed him again, and finally he turned. Somehow he didn’t seem to understand what I was saying. He was chewing hard on something, maybe a big piece of food? It seemed too big for tobacco.

He pointed at my pack and indicated “big”, pointed at his ears and said “crickets” as they were chirping loud. But he did not really respond to my comments and questions. He reached to pet Keyla, then just stared so I decided to call this conversation over. I mentioned I was heading on to Blue Lake and left. A bit creepy, though I am never really scared or worried about people in the outdoors. Maybe he was handicapped or didn’t speak English well.

Within a half mile, it became impossible to follow the trail. Even with the app the going was tough, as the GPS led us into thick bush or water. We were now next to a lovely frog pond, and when I finally found the trail again, it was a creek filled with water and snow. I decided to give up on Blue Lake and find a camp spot for the night, then decide what to do the next day.

After more sliding around on the snow looking for dry ground, I found a lovely spot a bit up from the pond. Camp was set, water refilled from the pond – and the frogs were so loud! Keyla is curled up on her bed outside the tent. I thought I leave her there for the night but it’s getting pretty cold.

I have no idea what to do about the trail. The elevation data looks like everything from here on is just as high or much higher than our current elevation. If I hike out, how and where could I rejoin the trail? Given all the work that went into the preparations for this trip, I definitely don’t want to abandon it. But how do I find a way out of this middle of nowhere WA? There is a trail Junction 0.35 miles from here but the book doesn’t say where it goes. It might go east and lead me to a town … but how would I progress from there? And how do I get to my resupply boxes? Crap – sorry. I definitely can’t go on a snow covered trail that is not the PCT as I would not even have the app to guide the way. I will figure it out tomorrow.

Day 4:Green Lake Camp - Day 4

Only day 4? Feels like we have been out here for a long while. Sadly this might be the end of the straight walk north. I’m hoping to come up with a plan B! Today I explored the trail going further from here but it is impossible to navigate. Snow covered and hidden, or sinking into snow or flooded pathways. Most of the time I cannot make out the trail at all (not marked well on the trees). I am walking with the trail app in my hand, and even when it says I’m on the trail, it is not clear where it goes. I’m breaking through snow and my shoes are already soaked again – took so long to dry them, almost 2 days! And this exploration was without a backpack. With Bugs (the backpack), it would be even harder. So we have no choice but to turn around 🙁

I have studied the elevation continuation in detail and can see access from Stehekin as an option. I could easily spend 2 weeks there, exploring north and south on the PCT. The question is: How do I get there? I don’t think dogs are allowed on any distance buses, and of course there is no train (oh to be in Europe!). Rental cars, mostly, don’t accept dogs either. For now, the plan is to hike the 3 miles back to the horse camp, then head east on the gravel road. Hopefully it will eventually lead to civilization. Maybe a call home will open some options. As self reliant as one can be out here, with the right gear, enough food and clean water, sometimes help is needed from others. I’m lucky to have them in my life!

The PCT app drains the phone quickly so I’m hoping I can fully recharge the solar unit today for the hike out. On a positive note: It is a gorgeous day here at Frog Pond (my name – my Walden Pond!). The sun came up early over the pines, the frogs and crickets started up, a light breeze has been blowing since early morning. The air is warm enough to be in shorts during morning washing. The breakfast was delicious (not tired of it yet!) and for the first time I could enjoy a coffee sitting in my tent, not rushing. Because of “weird guy”, I tried to keep quiet and invisible to not give away my location (I’m about 100m off the trail – not easy to find unless someone sees me from the other side of the pond).Green Lake - Day 5

The creaking tree next to me also seems to be stable despite my initial concerns it would soon be another blowdown, of which there are so many! The stretch from the previous campsite to this one has been littered with fallen trees, often huge affairs that take a while to bushwhack around. Many require big steps over or bends below. Not easy to do with a heavy backpack! Often I grab Keyla by her backpack (attached with a harness) and give her a lift up.

Though Keyla doesn’t mind the pack once it is on, she runs away when I’m trying to put it on in the mornings – very funny. With the food volume going down, the weight is getting better by the day. At night, her pack is always hung up far away from camp, in case any rodents show interest in her food (double zip-locked). So far there have been no signs of wildlife – only slugs, little lizards and bugs. Luckily my camp here on Frog Pond has no mosquitoes so I’m able to sit, wash, cook etc. without having to jump up and down or wave my Buff frantically. Only very few spots during our hikes required that I use my mosquito net over my head.

Well, my hair is washed, clothes are rinsed, now I can rest and head back tomorrow. While I’m somewhat sad it won’t work as planned, I’m also confident I can work out another good plan and feel lucky I can live outside!

By the way, before I met “weird guy” on the way to this lake, I came across a female hiker, closer to the road. She was talking on the phone on speaker and when I stopped to chat and ask about conditions, she said “I’m actually on a phone call. Have a good hike”. I checked reception but there was none on mine; must have been a satellite connection? Strange way of hiking …

Just removed another tick from Keyla. 2 days ago, two were crawling on her fur around her face. Hopefully they are not infected with any diseases here (Lyme Disease is limited to Eastern states). She is as energetic as ever, getting excited when we headed out on our recce mission, racing over the snow and blasting through puddles and bushes. Nothing ever tires her out for very long but she was happy to rest in the evenings after the long days. Last night she was outside the tent, contently curled up on her bed until well into the dark. It felt cold then, so I brought her inside. Strange … Icy air blew in around 7pm and I had to bundle up for the start of the night but towards morning it was very mild again and I was shedding layers. I always thought it is coldest just before dawn …

The day is very warm and the snow is melting fast on the edge of the lake. That’s not making the trail conditions any better, it just means more sinking in and getting wet. The nights are not cold enough to freeze the snow solid to walk on. If I could at least see the trail or walk on the snow, I would continue. But as it is, I would continuously get lost without the app, and would probably only make 2 miles a day! At that rate, I won’t even make it to White Pass before the month is up 🙂

Day 5:

Where do I start? What a day it has been. And how my surroundings have changed!

I started the day in the middle of the forest, on Green Lake, with a warm morning breeze. I left this great camp spot to hike back to the road. The going was slow. I started in sandals, knowing the trail is under a foot of water around the lake. The snow was melting fast but the snowy sections in the forest were still tricky. I tried to follow footprints on the snow where they were visible but they often disappeared. Surprisingly/annoyingly/concerningly I could sometimes make 5 more steps straight ahead and had already lost the trail again. I tried to spot it, bushwhacked, finally looked at the phone app and it would say I’m 300 ft away from it! This happened over and over. Even with the app open in my hand (phone draining fast) I once walked a perfect circle trying to rejoin the trail. It was getting hotter but the conditions were also getting better the lower we got.

Keyla was so well rested after our “zero” day and with a lighter pack, she raced through the forest like a mad girl. About a mile from Road 60, who did I encounter? “Phone” lady from our hike in on Friday! She is a Forest Service volunteer, checked my permit and asked about the conditions. She had also encountered “weird guy” on Friday, and we compared notes. She thinks he might have wandered off into the bush, not to return, since he has no address but claimed to have some food.Snug in the tent ...

I asked about the chances of hitting civilization going east, and apparently Trout Lake is about 15 miles down the road. “It has a big ranger station – closed on Sunday through – oh wait, the wilderness training is still going on there, with rangers and participants from all over WA and OR! I was just there but left early.” So I was lucky! She figured after the training, someone might be driving north from there. And she said the gravel road I was heading back to has enough traffic to hitch a ride. With that, she left.

The first two cars on the gravel road did not work out but the third one instantly offered me a ride, even though he was going the wrong way. He said he didn’t have to be home until 3pm and was happy to chat … Good conversation about life in the outdoors, backpacking, entitled kids etc. We found the ranger station (Mt. Adams) without any problems and I said goodbye to the friendly stranger Mark.

Behind the station I found the wilderness training group. Did I mention it was 100F/40C by now? Stifling heat, even in the shade. When I shared my story and issues, the participants and rangers instantly offered to help me sort out my situation during their break. One of the participants was driving back to Ellensburg so Yakima was on his way. By looking at a map I figured I couldn’t go north past Yakima since I needed to get my resupply box from White Pass and/or Snoqualmie Pass. The rangers helped with the details, and soon it was all sorted out. We would leave after the training was done (12 by now, leave 3:30pm).

Two wonderful people, Ron and Frank, part of the training group, kept me company and got me water and a cold drink during their breaks. The conversations were fantastic and I would not have minded more time with them. Ron even let me use his phone. Lovely people, and an instant connection, as it sometimes happens in one’s life. Everybody recommended strongly that I come back and hike the PCT again in that area.

I connected with home and gave updates. Keyla and I waited in the shade on the lovely Mt. Adams Institute campus (behind the ranger station), with Mt. Adams rising majestically behind Trout Lake. A magical place even on a scorcher day!

My two new friends Ron and Frank vouched for my “driver” and despite it being a small Chevy Cavalier, the car was safe and Dillon a cautious driver. They had mentioned him being “opinionated” so I wasn’t sure what to expect. He was chatty but not unpleasant. We admired the changing landscape together (down to the gorge, north, through dry coulee country), and made it safely to Yakima (Keyla settled down quickly in the car). Dillon helped carry my luggage to the room, making sure it all worked out, and I reimbursed him for his time and gas.

There we were, at the Days Inn in Yakima: It was nice and cool, and clean. Friendly staff. With access to wifi, I got my plans sorted out. The only downside was the super sketchy area around the motel: dingy restaurants, not even any fast food places (my last resort at best). I had hoped to find some food at the gas station but even that store was tiny, dark and hidden behind steel bars, with weird notes about food stamps on the shelves. I gathered a few chips, jerky for Keyla, a drink … It was about 7pm, 100F, bright sunshine but I wasn’t going back outside!

I was able to get my resupply box from White Pass forwarded to Chelan (Delores, you are an angel!), a ride organized from Yakima to Snoqualmie Pass and Chelan, and the ferry to Stehekin booked. My friend Earl from Winthrop, who instantly agreed to make this 6 hour drive to help me out, is my hero. Without him I would still be in Yakima 🙂 I am so grateful to him for this selfless act of kindness. I will be paying it forward many times over.

The reason I picked Stehekin was that from there I could access lower elevations, and then hike south and north on the PCT as far as I wanted in every direction.

Day 6:

We checked out at 12, and waited for Earl to arrive. He had to drive his truck since his VW had suffered from destructive rodents in his garage … The truck was comfortable but even with A/C turned on, it was hot. Another scorcher day!

Lots of traffic on the I-90, lots of construction. Snoqualmie Pass was gorgeous but busy! There was a bit of confusion at the store over where my box was but then it was located in the cooler. It feels surreal to pickup your own stuff so far out of the way! The store owner, when I had called him before my trip, had told me about 20 times over the phone that he would only keep the box for 2 weeks (which worked fine for my timing). When I picked it up, he repeated this, even though I told him that I was early and he had only had the box for 3 days. His parting words were “Good you’re here, I only keep the boxes for 2 weeks!” 🙂

Chelan RVAfter a pretty drive to Wenatchee and Chelan, Earl dropped me at my campsite. I had him keep my ice axe and microspikes but why I also gave him my gently used gas canister (thinking the new one is in the box we picked up but was actually in the White Pass box) I don’t know! I registered at the RV park entrance and was shocked to find it was $40 for literally a 16×16 piece of dirt. Showers cost extra. It was so hot that I decided not even to set up my tent. So I’m lying under the stars, on my mat, just in my sleeping bag liner, listening to the traffic on the road that’s 50m away. Which turned out to continue all night. Also headlights from cars entering the RV park. Did I say it was $40? Plus there were notes saying the sprinklers come on at night and not to leave anything outside that can’t get wet. Hard to do in a tent or just sleeping bag! Luckily no sprinklers came on but I only slepts 3-4 hours. If you’re tenting, do NOT stay at Lakeside RV in Chelan! Find someone with a yard and ask to pitch it there …

Oh, and the gas canister mistake meant that after re-organizing all my food and gear in the evening I had to make a mad dash into town to find gas (the RV neighbour happily offered his canister but it was the wrong type). So Keyla and I walked in still stifling heat to the first store (negative), the second store (negative), then called the only taxi in town (20 min wait) to take us to Walmart (way too far to walk). $16 later we bought the $5 gas canister. Expensive mistake!

The Chelan taxi driver is an interesting lady, with a taxi sign on the car but no meter, just a handwritten note on the dash how much the services cost. She had no problem with the dog; however, when I asked if I could make a reservation for the morning she said she wasn’t working 🙁

After that odyssey I enjoyed a $0.50 shower (asked a couple that walked by for a change for my dollar note and they took me to their trailer and gave me quarters “for free”!)

Day 7:

Early in the morning, Keyla and I lugged our super heavy packs (14 days worth of food!) over to Starbucks 🙂 What a blast of consumption (though my camp coffee can definitely compete!). Keyla was not thrilled with her heavy pack when we moved on and walked to the motel (for “after the trip”, storing extra food). It was getting warm already and we were dripping even at 7am. Then I realized that it was too far to walk to the ferry from there to make it on time, so I asked a guy sitting in front of his unit who had a small pickup. And he was willing to take us! He didn’t even accept money when we got to the ferry office, saying “You might need it for something else!”. So nice.

Ferry to Stehekin - Day 7Ferry check-in, boarding, Keyla in a crate on deck, a blanket for shade. Many people took an interest in her and asked questions about our trip. Pleasant breeze, 2-3 stops along the lake, 4 hr boat ride. I got talking to an older guy who knew all the trails in the Stehekin area. He got out his maps and gave me all the details. He had taken his kids on many of these hikes many years ago.

Finally Stehekin – it has been on my list for years. When we got off the ferry, I asked right away about the shuttle to High Bridge, which runs regularly in the summer. However, it was still too early (I had enquired before my trip about my originally planned arrival date but now I was earlier!) and it wasn’t running yet (11 miles paved and unpaved roads). However, the owner of the lodge said: “Get settled and we will get you there later” since he had to deal with the day visitors first until they left again on the ferry.

I went to the visitor center which is also the ranger station for the National Park. We discussed route options, got the special permit to camp and picked a preliminary itinerary – PCT South, PCT North, some side valleys. The campsites are now “luxurious” with pit toilets, bear boxes, even benches.

Then I shouldered the heavy pack (hot here too!) and started looking for the lodge guy, Phil. Right after I had dropped the pack and Keyla in the shade, I asked a passing lady where I might find Phil and explained the reason. One thing led to another, and she turned out to be my trail angel! Not only did Donnalyn decide it was her calling for the day to have met me, she was so happy to pay forward the favour when she arrived and needed a ride. She gave me a tour of the valley, stopped at the post office (to tell the guy I’m picking up my box when I’m back), and at Rainbow Falls. We enjoyed the company immensely and learned lots about her Wisconsin home and Stehekin summer. I appreciated that she didn’t mind the whining dog (tied up in the back of the car) and that she was so happy to help us out.

Donnalyn drove me the 11miles to High Bridge, where we found the campsite and are now set up in a beautiful place with nice NP camp amenities. The Stehekin River below is a raging torrent from all the snow melt during this heat, and it’s impossible to get drinking water there; Keyla doesn’t even go close to the angry waters. We picked a different site a few minutes walk away to get water safely. We decided to stay here for 3 nights since there are great day hikes in the area. Hiking uphill is a different story without full pack!

I think I made the right call. The hard-to-follow snowy PCT in southern WA would have been super slow at best, dangerous at worst. Covering my average required mileage was such a physical effort that the spiritual aspect had no room. That’s not what I wanted. Being away from my regular environment and living with the elements should include time to contemplate and go within. I love these gorgeous mountains and now I have more time to enjoy since I’m not hiking most waking hours. Perfect. Plan B(BK) worked – B(Biggi) B(Bugs the backpack) K(Keyla the dog).

Day 8:

Uneventful and lovely. Did a day hike to Agnes Gorge, 5 miles return. Finished some laundry, then hiked over to Coon Lake. I thought we could swim but there is no real access for humans. But Keyla loved fetching sticks and cooling off. Met Michael who works at the lodge and who came down from a hike up Mt. McGregor. He spoke of unstable snow, route finding and bushwhacking above 6000ft. When I came back through the ranger station, Phil from the Lodge was waiting with the bus for a trail crew and we had a nice chat. One feels that one is already included in the community since he remembered me, knows my name now and did not forget yesterday that I needed a ride.

Very happy about Plan BBK since I am also getting a lot of reading time in.

Time for a snooze ...Day 9:

We hiked 3 hours up Mt McGregor to 3800ft. There was a bit of rain this afternoon but no “soaker”. Been reading and washing clothes. Met two rangers going to Rainy Pass, near Coon Lake.

Day 10:

We reluctantly left High Bridge camp, after waiting out a drizzle in the shelter after packing up. We hiked 5.5 miles to Fivemile camp but found it un-inspiring, somehow eerie. So we decided to move on to Swamp Creek, which is a nice enough campsite but loud! The creek is running high so it’s really noisy. And there are more bugs than in the other places before. The views aren’t so great in this valley, thought it would be more open.

Keyla is watching over me, as always, outside the tent. She was only inside the first 4 nights …

Day 11:

I did bring the dog into the tent eventually. It just felt too cold. I assume the cold air came from the gushing waters nearby. It really was loud! I didn’t warm up to Swamp Creek. The trail, besides a few good views, was always in the forest and full of growth that soaked my shoes and pants. And somehow the feeling was gloomy there; not dangerous or scary, just “off”. So we packed up early and started the hike back without breakfast. I just didn’t want to sit there. I had a bar instead and Keyla her kibbles. I am hiking with her on the leash in the National Park so she is a leash-length ahead of me, taking some of the water off the overgrowth. My shoes and socks were so wet, I just walked through all the creeks from Fivemile Camp on. We made it back to High Bridge before noon! A couple of hikers were just walking to the shuttle. Good timing! Besides two curious cycling tourists and an ATV checking out camp, we have been by ourselves. Rinsed some clothes and are enjoying the nice camp.

Day 12:

Rest day! Gorgeous blue sky! Reading, washing. A single hiker, and then a couple came through camp. Steve and Marian gave me chocolate and chips, it was so good! Do I look like I need food?? 🙂 I organized the remaining food today since we left a cache at High Bridge before heading out. We definitely have enough until back in Stehekin, where also my last box is.High Bridge Camp - Day 8

I was so thankful for the extra food; we haven’t been feasting. Without long hours of hiking it’s okay but for big distances, the calories are a bit low. Steve and Marian asked what’s next for me. Good question! The next hike? Trip? Job? Something to figure out soon, and to approach with courage to make changes.

Day 13:

There was no rush but we got going at 8:15 AM. A somewhat uneventful hike, first on the PCT to Bridge Creek, then onto Park Creek Camp. The guy on the ferry had said that Park Creek is his favourite (though the ranger said the high trail is closed). We arrived early and the rain has been spitting on and off. It never stayed one weather! The creek here is also noisy but not as bad as Swamp Creek. Two nights here, some day hiking tomorrow without pack. Keyla is as energetic as always and pulled strong the whole way. I don’t have quite enough dog food so I have been cutting a bit here and there but it does’t seem to affect her energy at all. Nobody around here. I wonder how this experience would be with some other hikers around. Hopefully good solar-charging weather tomorrow!

Living with the elements, there is no shelter here but bear boxes. Funnily enough there are big buckets in the bear boxes that need to be used to protect the food from the rodents. Big signs announce “Not bear proof” on the buckets, then big signs on the bear box say “Not mouse proof”. So we have to double bag here!

Day 14:

Just a short hike towards Park Creek, over to Flat Creek and checking out the camp and scenery there. The old road is so easy to walk on! This area has a strange remote feeling about it … even though we haven’t seen anybody else in other places either, this one just feels more abandoned, as if nobody has even been here for a while.

Day 15:

It was a wet night at Park Creek but the rain stopped eventually – tent is still wet in the morning. But the sun came out and we tried to warm up then. Got it all packed up and hiked to Bridge Creek (2 miles). Then on to North Fork (3 miles) and further to Hide Away Camp (8 miles from Bridge Creek). The old datebook said it was the loveliest campsite in Bridge Creek. Oh dear! It was awful! Loud, trees down and gloomy, no views. I turned around after hiking 10 miles to get there. I figured I go back to Bridge Creek since there is a shelter, and if it rains again we can stay dry there.

A night in the CCC shelter - Day 15And I did. 8 miles back. It started raining towards the last mile so I did not set up the tent and am sleeping in the shelter instead. Thanks CCC! Tomorrow back to High Bridge to dry everything out then. I am almost onto the last few nights outside! Keyla is so energetic, she pulled me all day. Where does she get the energy from?

Day 16:

The coldest night yet! Brrr! I put on a lot of clothes and fully cinched up the sleeping bag and liner but was still cold. I later heard that it was forecast this way so it can only get better! We left Bridge Creek without breakfast (well, Keyla ate) so was I getting somewhat weak even during the short uphills in this section. 3 hikers (dad must have been in his 90s!) out for a day hike, no more road construction past Tumwater, a big group of day hikers and we are back in civilization. Tom and Louisa are sharing our camp here at High Bridge, they are set up within the shelter. Lovely conversations, nice to have them around. We got cleaned up and did laundry. Right ankle somewhat sore from the big day yesterday so taking it easy tomorrow. Into Stehekin Sat or Sun. I do have enough food but a piece of chocolate wouldn’t be bad … or a cinnamon bun at the famous bakery!

Day 17:

Lovely morning with Tom and Louisa. We had great conversations and our first shared breakfast. I really enjoyed their Tom and Louisa - Day 17company. Just before they left, Patty (NPS employee) came by to maintain camp. She was lovely, open and warm, and very patient with Keyla. We enjoyed an enjoyable conversation about NP, Stehekin, trails etc. Wish it could have been longer! It’s really the people I have met that have been the highlight of my trip. Been reading for the rest of the day. 6 books done now 🙂 Getting more and more hungry even during rest days!

Day 18:

I was sad to leave High Bridge but excited about the time in Stehekin. We were ready early for the shuttle, then walked down as Phil was just pulling up the bus. Such a nice fellow! Calm, friendly, and he didn’t charge for the dog! Another hiker joined; he had started from Rainy Pass the day before and just wanted to get a cinnamon roll at the bakery! Another older gentleman made the bus last minute, going to Stehekin to stay at the lodge. Great chats, gear talk, hike talk.

Mark the RangerIn Stehekin, I updated the permit, spending 3 nights there until ferry on Tuesday. It started to drizzle. I checked out Purple Point camp but it was already busy and I didn’t like the sites next to the road. So we went to Lakeview (the “overflow”) instead. Lovely tent sites, many bear boxes, lots of them, and a great bathroom with running water! Now it was pouring so we waited under the bathroom overhang until the post office opened (12 PM) and then hurried over. On our way we heard a call: “Biggi” (I was holding a plastic bag over my head so didn’t see much) and were excited to run into Patty again. We got our resupply box, stayed dry under the overhang while gorging on gummy bears and hung out at the visitor center for the afternoon (reading, chatting with Mark the Ranger, charging the phone). Eventually the rain stopped and we set up camp.Nutella

Mary from the Lodge found me some bread, and I had Nutella bread for dinner. Mary had offered the Lodge’s sun room for me and Keyla to hang out if soggy, which was much appreciated. Oh and for lunch I had a big basket of greasy salty fries at the Lodge – first bought food! We have new food now and will be more than fine until Chelan. We listened to the Naturalist Talk at 1:30 PM and the “Stay Safe” Presentation by Mark at 7:30 PM. Keyla was allowed to join inside.

We woke up to a gorgeous Sunday morning. I am so impressed with the NP campsites, which are all free. North Cascades National Park rocks!

Day 19:

A day hike up Purple Creek to about 3500ft, spotting two bears and getting some good pictures. Great views over Lake Chelan and the mountains from up there!

I also watched the ferry come and go, while still eating Nutella bread for dinner. I ran into Michael from the Lodge again, and we had a good chat. Continuing the helpful and kind approach of the people I have met, he offered to make me some vegan food and said I could also take a shower in his cabin if I wanted (while he worked; cabin is never locked). We were also lucky to run into Patty again at the visitor center – this time we got a chance to take a picture with her! The day concluded with another ranger talk …Patty

Day 20:

A full day of walking! First to the bakery, then the Rainbow Loop Trail, and back on the road. We ran into Patty near Harlequin Bridge, and the angel she is, she gave us a ride to the orchard (Buckner Homestead), where we poked around a bit. Then we walked all the way back to Stehekin Landing. The foot is sore and both of us are tired but that’s nothing a good load of Nutella bread can’t fix 🙂

I cannot believe this is our last night outside. Of course there will be more hiking adventures and I’m hoping to come back to Stehekin soon as well – lots more trails to explore. But for now, 3 weeks of sleeping outside come to an end.  I can’t imagine being in a room and bed again tomorrow, it’ll feel nice but I will miss being in the elements.

I’m glad Plan BBK gave me the leisure time to get to know people, to read, to absorb and observe, rather than just hiking all out all day. Changes and adaptations are sometimes inevitable and then often turn out to be GREAT. This one was meant to be!

Our new friend Art was cleaning the washroom here at Lakeview today and we had another chat. We also stopped at Donnalynn’s house behind the bakery but even though her car was there she did not come to the door. Let’s hope we get a chance to say thank you before we leave tomorrow!

Day 21:

After another short hike up Purple Creek to give Keyla some exercise, we waited at the landing for our ferry. Keyla waited patiently and gathered much attention from the visitors. Eventually, we met Michael and his wife who sat down to share our bench. I enjoyed the conversation and much appreciated that Michael gave me his phone number and offered to give us a ride from the ferry in Chelan to our motel (they were returning on the earlier, express ferry). How wonderfully helpful people are!

The 4 hour ferry ride was uneventful so Keyla just relaxed in her crate. I was lucky to find a couple from Minnesota that gave me a ride to the motel from the ferry, and I very much enjoyed their company as well, even though it was short. I did call Michael to let him know I didn’t need the ride anymore and to thank him again. The generosity of strangers has really blown me away on this trip!

The plan was to stay in Chelan for 3 nights and get picked up by Graham then. However, the motel was so loud with construction workers on either side of my (ground level) room, drinking and walking by until late, then idling their big trucks, backed in up to my window, at 5:30 AM and slamming their door into my face when I asked to be more considerate … and with no other options in Chelan I decided that I needed to find my way to Winthrop. I knew I would be much more comfortable there (and it was on Graham’s way from Vancouver anyway so meant an even shorter drive for him). Upon contacting my friend Dan in Winthrop, he found a friend of his who I had met before … who was willing to pick me up (about an hour drive). So Keyla and I had the pleasure of a beautiful ride with Bob, and very much enjoyed listening to his stories and getting to know him. Once in Winthrop, my favourite spot, all was good, the motel quiet, the surroundings as scenic as ever. We even got to see Earl for coffee and thank him again …

It was an adventure! It turned out differently from what was planned but I am so grateful it did. I would not want to miss the connections I made, and the help, kindness and generosity I experienced on this journey. The people in Washington were amazing in every way.

Encore: Three days in Cathedral Lakes Park

Lake of the Woods - Cathedral ParkSince nobody expected me back on my computer, I decided to use the last 3 days of June to hike into Cathedral Provincial Park, spend a day hiking around the lakes, then hiking out on the third day. Sadly, no dogs are allowed there.

It’s a steep 15km hike into the park, with an elevation gain of 1500m. One can take a shuttle but at $120 for a 12km ride in a truck, I found that overpriced. The access trail climbs steadily but is well maintained except for the middle section that still has many trees down (it should get cleared soon). Camping on Quiniscoe Lake is scenic and for the most part quiet (the second night saw way fewer tents than the first). All day long, mountain goats meander through camp, even with their babies. Since I was at the edge of the campground, they often walked up to my tent in the morning, stared in and then wandered off. The days usually start with blue skies, then develop some clouds in the afternoon, only to clear again before nightfall.Busy road - Cathedral Park

Hiking to Lake of the Woods, Pyramid Lake, Glacier Lake and Ladyslipper Lake was wonderful and I did not see one single person on any trail (including hiking in and out of the park). Check out the pictures and put this one on your hiking list!


Books Read:          Books

  • “Runner” by Lizzy Hawker: ∗∗∗
  • “All the light we cannot see” by Anthony Doerr: ∗∗∗∗∗
  • “The Wild Truth” by Carine McCandless: ∗∗∗∗
  • “Maude” by Donna Malory: ∗∗∗∗
  • “Heaven Enough” by Ken LaSalle: ∗∗∗∗
  • “Hunger” by Knut Hamsun: ∗∗∗
  • “Euphoria” by Lily King: ∗∗∗∗∗

Favorite Gear:

  1. JetBoil stove: Simply the easiest, most reliable, best stove around
  2. ProBar: High calories, good taste even when hot
  3. Mini Sawyer water filter: I love my gravity filter but for light and 1-person camping, this one is perfect
  4. Sea 2 Summit sleeping bag liner: Like a cozy blanky to cuddle and pull over your face
  5. Keys Solar RX face lotion: Moisturizer and SPF 30 all in one all-natural, no chemical lotion
  6. Six Moon Designs Lunar Solo LE tent: super lightweight and easy to set up; good in wind and rain
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