The finish line is at hand!
Pacific Crest Trail Quest '08 - Page 31
8.21.08
It rained all night and I packed up in the rain.  It was two cold rainy miles down to the
Stehekin River Road that leads eleven miles to the tiny town of Stehekin.  Stehekin is an
interesting little town because it isn't connected to the outside world by any road.  It sits at
the far end of 1,400 ft. deep Lake Chelan, and can only be reached by boat or plane.  
Luckily, there's a bus that runs from town to the ranger station four times a day.

The first bus comes at 9:00 and I got there at 8:30.  Normally this would have meant a half
hour wait in the rain, but I got lucky.  I showed up just as the ranger was headed to town,
and he gave me a ride.

Everything in town is over-priced and geared towards the tourists that swarm the town, but
the food was good and I got a free campsite.  It even stopped raining, so I set all my stuff
up to dry before lunch.

I came back from lunch and found that a guy in a very silly hat and his family had decided
to move into my campsite.  They had moved all my gear off the picnic table and were in the
process of setting up their tent nearly on top of mine.

I asked Silly Hat what he was doing and he looked shocked and said, "Oh, are you
camping here?"

I didn't know what to day.  I said, "Well, yeah.  That's why all my stuff is here and I have my
tent set up.  The tag on my site with today's date and my name on it should have been a
clue, too."  He told me he thought I had all my wet gear spread out on the picnic table
because I was getting ready to leave.  I made sure nothing was missing as he was
getting all his crap out of my way.  Aside from that one incident, my day went well and my
stuff all dried out.
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8.22.08
I caught the first bus out of Stehekin this morning.  It was just me and a few other hikers
on board when Silly Hat came running up in his sombrero just as we were getting ready to
leave.  We had to wait five minutes for the rest of his family before we could go.

His wife asked the bus driver stupid questions the whole way, mostly about bears.  She
couldn't believe they just let them run around wild out here.  They really need to go back to
whatever city they're from and stay there.

I covered a lot of ground on the trail today.  Mostly, I'm excited about finishing, but the
sunshine helped, too.  I passed a sign at a trailhead that said
Canada Border 62 miles.  
That's two days.  I can't believe it!  I just hope it doesn't rain anymore.
8.23.08
I had another beautiful sunny day on the trail.  There were too many other hikers around,
but the views made up for it.  There was one advantage to having all the day hikers around
which I learned when I walked the gravel road next to the trail for two miles.  Three cars
stopped to give me food and it was good stuff, too.  I got a bag of almonds, an apple, a
peach, and best of all, a beer.

I'm 30 miles from the end of the trail tonight.  I can't believe it.  It's supposed to rain
tomorrow (of course!) and the sky is already starting to cloud over.  My plan is to start
hiking really early and maybe beat some of the rain.  My track record with hiking really early
isn't very good, so I'll see what happens.

I seem to have set up camp on a deer trail, and deer keep walking by my tent.  It's kind of
neat because they aren't the least bit afraid of me, but I'm afraid they'll keep waking me up.
 Every time I hear something walk by I have to make sure it's not a bear.
I was on the trail before dawn and hiked hard all day through intermittent rain.  I climbed
over two high passes in the morning, but from there to the border the trail stayed mostly
flat or downhill.  I enjoyed the easy walking.

The miles flew by quickly on the easy trail and all day I could only think about the fact that
this would be my last day on the trail.

At 3:00 pm I descended a short series of switchbacks to the Canadian border.  A 20 foot
wide clear cut stretched laser straight to the east and west marking the division between
the two nations.  In the middle of the clearcut stood the monument marking the southern
terminus of the Pacific Crest Trail.  
I made it!  It had stopped raining, so I took some time
to sit around and enjoy my accomplishment.

Half an hour later it started to pour, so I set out to walk the long eight miles out of the
woods to Manning Park Lodge, where the first thing I did was order a steak and a beer at
the very fancy restaurant.  I was wet and grubby from the trail, but that didn't matter.  I made
it.

I'm staying at a hostel tonight.  I'm all showered and dry.  Soon, I'll head back to Iowa and
back to work.  I'm not really looking forward to it, but there's always next summer, and with
a little luck, I'll be spending it on the Yukon River
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