Day 112, August 14
Start: camp at mile 2566
End: Stehekin via High Bridge Station, mile 2580
Miles Hiked: 14
I can’t catch a break with sleep in this section. When I need it most, doing big miles, I’ve been getting some terrible nights sleep. The first two nights we’re my own doing (cowboy camping in the rain, setting up camp in a high exposed areas when it looks as if it might storm). But last night, I found a great location, set up my tarp really well, and expected a great night sleep… The mice had other plans. Consistently I was awaken to them scurrying around my head, trying to get into my food, and at one point one ran onto my forehead.
“Get used to it. Preview of the AT. Idiots are in every hostel.” Woody says after I complain to him in the morning. “I used to smash them with my fist in the huts. There are so many.”
Awesome. It’s not raining this morning. Overcast, but no rain, so all of our gear has stayed dry. It’s only 15 miles to where the bus picks you up and takes you to Stehekin, and we’re trying to make it there by the noon shuttle.
Around 8, the clouds build and it starts to rain a bit on us. We catch Guthrie hiking. He camped two miles behind us, but got up and out early, as he said he saw that the rain clouds were building fast on the mountains and he wanted to get a head start, so he ended up ahead of us. We take a break in the rain by a nice running river, and all set up under a large Pine. Carrot catches us, Tiny and Brainstorm are there, and soon a section hiker, Sprite shows up as well. She’s been averaging about 15 miles a day, yet she’s going to try and keep up with us as we hustle to the bus location this morning by noon. Woody doesn’t stop. He’s hiking as fast as you can before it becomes a jog. He hates the rain.
The rain starts to build, and we head out. It really starts coming down, hard. We hike fast, jogging the downhills and hiking strong up. Sprite keeps right up with us, running behind to keep up. It’s cool to see her confidence grow. Sometimes, you don’t know what you’re capable of until you get pushed by others. This morning, I gave her a nudge, telling her she should try and keep up with us to make the noon bus to Stehekin. She bit, and now she’s killing it with us. It’s awesome!
When we get to the bus stop, we find Woody sitting under an awning at the front door of one of the ranger cabins. He’s soaking wet, and looks miserable.
“I’ve been rage hiking all morning,” he says “did some trail maintenance along the way, slicing down any bushes close to the trail in a fit of fury.”
We all burst out laughing. If anyone can lighten the mood, it’s Woody. He was cruising last I saw him, flailing his arms and trekking poles everywhere as he often does. He also hates the rain more than anyone I know, so he was not lying when he claimed he was “rage hiking” all morning, cursing under his breath the entire morning at the conditions. I’m going to miss him once off trail, that’s for sure.
We all huddle under the awning together in a big group. Tiny, Brainstorm, Woody, Carrot, Sprite, Chinese Rock, Guacarock, Colonel, Guthrie, Jake, and Celestial. The bus comes at noon, and soon we’re taken to the most magical place in the world.
I remember Carrot first talking about the Stehekin Bakery in the California Desert. “Its the annual pilgrimage of the cascadia militia to the Stehekin Bakery” she told me. I have heard endless stories from her since then about the epicness of the bakery. I didn’t think it true at the time, but she was understating the mastery of this bakery. Its as if Keebler became real life (but obviously better products, sorry Keebler). There’s cinnamon rolls, sticky buns, giant cookies, pizza, croissants, and Pies. Giant Pies of every sort. It’s a magical place. To top it off, everyone who works there is beautiful. The women and the men, they all look like models, and they’re all wearing aprons and baking these delicious goods for us to devour. I get a pizza slice, a pie slice, a sticky bun, and a cinnamon bun, all of which come in giant portions. And I’ll be back tomorrow, no doubt.
We all hike out with packs full of baked goods and make it to the Stehekin lodge where all of us book the last 5 rooms available. We do laundry, buy things from the little store at the lodge, and all congregate at the city hall, which has a nice room to hang out at overlooking lake Chelan. I invite the girl who works at the store, and she shows up with her friends to hang out with us, which is a real treat. I’m pretty sure they got a big kick out of us as we shared stories from the trail, laughing the whole time. At one point, someone brings up a woody story, I believe about him kicking himself in the head after catching the flowers at Bearclaw and Dirt Mongers wedding. Amy, the girl who works at the town store, says she’s more flexible than Woody. Everyone starts hollering, and before we know it, they’re having a “flex off”. Amy wastes no time, dropping into the splits like nothing in front of the crowd. She switches to the other side, then the splits from the front, and I’m talking full splits like it’s no problem at all. Everyones hooting and clapping, egging her on. But we all know what’s coming. Woody is more than just a one trick pony.
As Amy is in the splits on the ground, woody begins by putting his leg behind his head. Amy turns to look and her jaw drops. She sits down in her chair, and Woody proceeds to walk up behind her, one legged as the other is still behind his head. He drops low behind her, “I bet you didn’t expect this, hunny.” he says in a creepy voice. We all burst out laughing SO hard. I’m literally crying I’m laughing so hard. “kick your head!” Tiny yells. Woody kicks his head from the front, then the back. He crosses his legs/feet in an unimaginable way, then begins to walk on his knees as his legs are in a pretzel. He locks his hands behind his back, and gets the to the front over his head without ever unlocking them. He even claps his hand on his own forearm by shaking his arm wildly. His wrist just pops out and his hand slaps against the forearm. It’s like a circus freak show, and Amy can’t believe her eyes. People are on the floor laughing, I cant see through the tears in my eyes. It’s hilarious!
We all retire to the lodge in the pouring rain. Thank goodness we’re not camping again in this. So much rain! I feel for some of our buddies such as not a chance, mac, coughee, and others who are just behind us somewhere. Hopefully they’re alright!