Stehekin – Miners Creek
22.8 miles. 6228ft up. 3348ft down
After a wonderful nights sleep in a bed with a proper pillow, it was time to head back to the trail. The zero day definitely did my feet some good so that was a wise decision. And there isn’t a cloud in the sky so hopefully the weather is on the turn.
Jackie and Dan are both having knee issues so they have been unsure as to whether they want to carry on. We went to get our last good breakfast for a few days while they decided what they wanted to do.
Breakfast was good, a nice omelette and bacon which should keep me fuelled up for a while. And I made a packed lunch and an extra sandwich for dinner, and I packed a little bit of cheese so I can jazz up my freeze dried food. Jackie and Dan have both decided to carry on and see how they get on, if today is too much they always have the option to turn around and head back to Stehekin. We packed away our stuff, moaned about how heavy our packs felt and I tried to ‘get rid’ of some of the huge amount of food I have eaten in the last couple of days before hitting the trail.
We left a huge box of leftover resupply to be put in the hikerbox, there are going to be some happy hikers who get first dibs on that. I can’t say I contributed that much, it was mostly from Dan, but I did put extra toilet roll in there – very important.
On the way to the bus there was a cat sat at the water fountain so I turned it on and she drank from it. Funny cat, apparently she gets loads of people to do that for her!
We went to the end of the road to wait for the bus, early so we didn’t miss it like yesterday. But the people at the ranch are amazing and the general manager, who’s name escapes me, said she would drive us there if there was no bus. The bus was quite late but at least it turned up. The short ride got us back to high bridge and we were soon back on the trail. I knew I was going to leave the others behind but I hate goodbyes so we just said ‘see you up the trail’.
There is a gentle climb up away from Stehekin which turns into a bigger climb so it’s basically uphill for the first 20 miles with only a couple of small reliefs. It. Was. Hot. I found myself wishing there were a few clouds in the sky, but at least we were in the trees so we had some shade. Every time I went uphill my left leg was going completely numb and then my foot would start to tingle. The feeling only came back when I started to go downhill. This didn’t seem like a good thing.
The trail follows Agnes creek for a long time, thankfully there are handy log bridges for most of the crossings. I did the first 9 miles without stopping, I tried to stop a couple of times but the flies were outrageous. Swarms of them. Biting. Irritating. Buzzing. They insist on buzzing around your ears and eyes. Stopping is stressful and not at all relaxing so it’s better to just carry on.
I realise by this point that I’m averaging 2.5mph and it’s unlikely I will see the others again. I’m on my own now. I listened to a few podcasts so I would stop myself looking at the mileage constantly.
I stopped to get water at Cedar Camp at 9 miles – that’s where Vince and I camped last year before our mad dash to get the first bus in the morning.
I carry on to a creek crossing which is supposed to have a log to cross but I couldn’t find it. I think I passed it already and I couldn’t be bothered to backtrack. So I took off my shoes and forded the creek. It was freezing but enjoyable after being so hot. I dunked my hat and when I got to the other side a frog bounces around. My heart drops through my arse, I hate frogs! I honestly think I would be less scared if I saw a bear. Putting my shoes back on was absolutely torturous, there were a gazillion flies and it felt like they were all on me. I wanted to cry at one point but I just got it done as fast as possible and got out of there. No time for lingering today. I was supposed to get water at the creek but in my haste to get away from the flies I forgot.
The afternoon then got difficult. It got hotter, steeper and more overgrown. I felt like I was walking through the jungle. I’ve never had much desire to go to a jungle and now my desire is even less. The problem with the overgrown stuff is that it pulls on your ankles, trying to trip you up or pull you back. It hides all the trip hazards so the potential for falling or rolling your ankles is high. And when the overgrowth is high is slaps you right in the face.
The trail is straight ahead:
I picked a few huckleberries and my progress was slow because it was just so hot. My pace slowed considerably. I thought I may have to reassess my goal of 23 miles. I had no water for 3 miles and I was desperate for it. I eventually made the 3 miles and guzzled water straight from my filter.
As the trail climbed it wiggled a lot in and out of the shadow of the mountains, it became less overgrown and my main obstacles were a few blowdowns and some broken bridges. There was water everywhere, cascading down the mountains and at times running like a river down the trail. I alternated between slow and really slow and as time was ticking by I was more unsure of whether I was going to make my miles.
I decided to listen to some music and I got all emosh as I started to think about various things. People I miss. People that aren’t here anymore. The fact that I was all alone in the woods! I blubbed for a bit which also makes walking harder! I saw about 5 sunsets and as I climbed higher the sun repeatedly reappeared. I was incredibly sweaty by this point. I am using my sleeve to wipe my face continuously.
I reached my back-up camp site but it didn’t look great, surrounded by vegetation it looked like it could be quite wet so with only 260ft of up left I carried on. Such relief when I reached the top of the climb.
My last 2 miles were 15 minute miles because it was all downhill and I was almost running. There were a lot of frogs on the trail and I squealed every time one hopped off the trail in front of me. Such an irrational fear! As I descended into the forest and it got darker I started to think this was prime bear territory. I sped up trying to sound big and noisy to frighten them off if there were any around. My heart was racing, I’m not sure of it was because of the quicker pace or the fear of the Bears building up inside me. I got to the camp spot fairly late, I arrived just after 7:30.
Thankfully, to my relief, when I arrived at the camp site there were already a couple of people there. Chris from Australia going north through Washington and a northbounder who skipped the Sierra. Then a massive dog came running out the forest. Sprout was absolutely gorgeous and I quickly made a friend. He guarded my pack while I pitched my tent.
His owner was Bug who SOBOed in 2014 which got me thinking. ‘Are you the Bug who has written a book about her hike?’ Yep, that’s her, I told her I’d read a little of her book but I hadn’t finished it yet. It’s called ‘A Walk With Mud’.
Sprout is a Labrador crossed with a Pitbull and something else. But he is a bit of a wimp so I question his ability to protect us from the Bears, but he has a good bark so hopefully he will alert us to any funny business!
I managed to eat the rest of my sandwich, a cookie and some cheese biscuits before hiker midnight (9pm) and I had to stop rustling. I’m led on my mat and my legs are really zingy. My biggest day on the trail so far. I’m so glad I did it and carried on and didn’t bail 3 miles earlier. I feel I feel a sense of achievement today. And I’m not on my own, yet.
I’m walking thousands of miles for Just A Drop because everyone should have access to clean water. Donate here.