Days 22 and 23 (124 and 125)
Miles: 2.9 and 0
When I was in high school, I would spend a week every summer at my aunt’s house in Alliance, Ohio. It wasn’t just any week. It was always planned around the Rodman Public Library book sale. The majority of my book acquisition up to that time came from the book sale. I loved volunteering in the fiction room where it was my job to open up all the boxes of new-to-the-sale books and put them out on the tables wherever there was space. That gave me first dibs on the books and I had a stack of hundreds of books that came home with me each year. It was the freaking best!!!
But the first year I volunteered, they didn’t put me in the fiction room. Instead, they stuck me in magazines. It was a bit of a slight, but I made due and it ultimately sparked my love affair with magazines, something I continue to this day. And it was at my first book sale in the magazines that I found an old copy of National Geographic from 1973. I chose it because it had an article about Charles Dickens featured inside and after my first trip to the United Kingdom a few years before, I became a committed Anglophile. But toward the back of the issue I found something that captured my imagination and I’ve never forgotten it. It was a photo essay about life in a tiny mountain town in Washington state. This town is inaccessible by road. The only way in or out is by foot, water or air. I knew this town and I would match and I have dreamed of the day I would get to visit it.
And that same enchanted (for me) town is where we hiked for our last resupply on the PCT.
We woke up on time and got on the trail before 7 a.m. The bus into Stehekin proper (yes, there are roads within Stehekin, just not TO Stehekin) would arrive around 9 a.m. at a ranger station about 3 miles away from where we camped. While I usually takes us just over an hour to cover that distance, we elected for an early arrival just in case. And when one of your childhood dreams is about to come true, it’s hard to sleep in.
We got to the bus pickup early, duh, so we wandered around the ranger station reading signs and marveling at the blue-green water of the Stehekin River, which flowed past us.
The bus came and we asked to be dropped off at the bakery, please. The Stehekin Bakery is renowned on the PCT. Ask a southbounder you pass in California what to know about Washington and they will say the bakery in Stehekin. We arrived and promptly bought about 5,000 calories. A cinnamon roll the circumference of a salad plate; a raspberry almond Danish; two pesto, onion, mozzarella stuffed loafs; a slice of mixed berry pie; vegetable quiche; three slices of pizza; a chocolate chip cookie; and a coffee, of course.
I know we’re hiking and very hungry, but this food was amazing, you guys!!!!
We sat there for a couple of hours just eating.
After we’d overfilled our stomachs, we decided to walk the two miles into town rather than wait for the next bus. That lovely decision took us right past “The Garden” and Carl. Carl has a beautiful vegetable garden from which he sells picked to order produce. We admired his dahlias while he brought us carrots, peaches, cherry tomatoes and some homemade goats milk banana lassi.
As we got into town, everything we needed was right there. We booked a cabin at the Stehekin Valley Ranch for the next night, got our room at the Stehekin Lodge for that night, got our resupply box from the post office, showered and then headed to the laundromat to do our very dirty laundry.
We had dinner at the Lodge and sat through two lectures put on by the National Park Service at the North Cascades National Park visitors center right next door to the lodge.
Then we went to bed.
The next morning, we ate our bakery pizza slices for breakfast and then caught the bus out to the Ranch.
Because the ranch is so far away from everything, you get three meals included in your stay. We made it there just in time for lunch.
Then we lounged about for the afternoon and lamented multiple times how long it is from 1 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. when you’re hungry and ready for dinner.
At dinner, we sat with a group of PCT hikers and spent the whole meal laughing.
Then it was time for bed.