Stehekin the Sequal

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2572.4 to 2577.3, 4.9 miles

Lucky I had an early start this morning. I had two opportunities to catch a bus from Wenatchee to Chelan to meet the departure time for the ferry. I was packed and out the door to the bus stop for the 5:40am ride. I’m standing at the bus stop, the correct stop for route 2, with cash in hand. I see the bus come around the corner, I step out to the curb, hell I even stick my hand out to indicate I want to get picked up only to see the bus drive right on by. Righteo- one chance left.

Rather than risk the same thing happening a second time and missing the ferry I make the 10 minute walk to the Columbia Station where I know the bus has to stop and patiently wait for the 6:30am to arrive.

There are a bunch of other hikers there which is a good sign; a father and son pair and two girls walking the PCT southbound.

The 6:30 comes on time and I jump on board, happy that I won’t miss the boat. A little bit down the road three more hikers jump on board, this time two girls and a guy. It’s an hour long drive along the west side of the Columbia River to Chelan. Chelan looks really nice and a place I’d like to come back to explore some other time.

Stacks of people and baggage are lined up outside the ferry terminal waiting to board, quite a few hikers but mostly just tourists headed to Stehekin for a get away.

It’s a four and a half hour boat ride on the Lady II for most of the length of Lake Chelan, the 3rd deepest lake in the US. Crater Lake is the deepest followed from in 2nd place by Lake Tahoe, both of which I visited on the PCT last year.

The PCT and Te Araroa trail tattoos on my calves are often a conversation starter and it’s while lined up for coffee on the ferry that I meet James, one of the hikers on the morning bus. He thought my Tatts were great and we got talking for about 2 hours on all sorts of stuff. He and the two girls he’s with we’re headed to Lucerne for a week of hiking. I love meeting people in situations like this and having genuine conversations about life and other random stuff.

Soon enough the ferry pulled into the remote village of Stehekin. Tourists galore lined the shore and the few shop balconies opposite the wharfs.

I made two quick stops, first to the Parks office to get a permit to camp inside the park for 1 night and then to the post office to pick up my food resupply. Like always I have too much food so spend a bit of time getting organised and donate quite a bit to the hiker box for others to use. You would be surprised what gets left in hiker boxes and even more surprised to know that it actually gets collected and used by hikers who have sold themselves short of food. Snap-lock bags of full of oatmeal, couscous, pasta and foods hikers have sent ahead to themselves but now so far into the trail they just can’t stomach it anymore. I’m a bit like that. Pop tarts, instant mash & cliff bars – having had almost a 12 month break from eating this stuff I thought I could eat them again – ah that’s a big no. Straight to the hiker box.

With food sorted it was time to catch yet another shuttle, from Stehekin to the PCT trail head at High Bridge. Awesomely the bus stops at the bakery on the way and I was able to grab some fresh pastry goods for breakfast tomorrow morning.

I finally got hiking by 3pm and planned to walk around five miles to Bridge Camp. The hike was fairly easy but conditions were really warm and I was saturated in sweat on reaching camp. Quite a bit different to the rain, wet and cold of a few days ago.

Tomorrow I’ll reach Rainy Pass, my stopping point last year due to the fire closure and will start to make inroads into the final 60 miles of PCT that I missed. The border is so close I can taste that Tim Hortons coffee already.

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