September 13, 2017
Day 132: Mile 2461.7 (Leavenworth) to Mile 2467.3
Elevation Gain: 1400
Elevation Loss: 730
Leavenworth is such a neat little town. Everything in the town has a German theme. In fact, businesses have to have the German building/design structure. I am sure it isn’t surprising to you that I ate a lot and slept a lot.
It was really hard to get back on trail this time. I got out of Nolan’s jeep and it was unexpectedly chilly outside. I had looked at the weather and cold rainy days were in my future. Nolan knew I was a bit bummed, so he had snuck his bracelet in my hip belt pocket that says “just hike” on it. He sent me a text later saying he hopes that it will help motivate me and get me through the upcoming cold/wet/rainy/snowy days.
I asked another thru-hiker what they did when they got homesick once. His response was that he doesn’t get home sick; when he is on trail, he is home. I suppose I am not the same. I feel more at home on the trail than anywhere else in this life, but I still missed the finer things in life when on the trail. I think it goes to show that we always want what we don’t have.
Throughout the day, I had to continue to remind myself, “only 8 more days”. My calves were hurting going up hills at this point. My motivation was not the only thing deteriorating, it seemed as though my body was as well.
September 14, 2017
Day 133: Mile 2467.3 to Mile 2491.1
Elevation Gain: 5700
Elevation Loss: 5200
It was such a beautiful day. There were a few beautiful lakes, brilliant fall colors, views of Mt David, panoramic views of the North Cascades and beautiful fluffy white clouds in the sky. I had more energy today and it was a bit chilly, which kept me moving.
There are a lot of thru hikers all in the same area in Washington right now because of the fires. The fire closures forced people to skip parts of Oregon and Washington, which put us all in the same area at the same time. There was no more solitude. No more solo camping. There are too many people at that point.
7 more days, I had to remind myself as I was huddled in my sleeping bag and sleeping bag liner, with all my layers on, still cold. There were to be many cold days ahead. This would be the warmest day I would see for the remainder of the trail. 7 more days.
September 15, 2017
Day 134: Mile 2491.1 to Mile 2518.2
Elevation Gain: 6850
Elevation Loss: 6900
The day started with rolling hills covered with reds, oranges, yellows and greens.
I crossed paths with SoFull all day, which was nice. I often caught up with him while he was picking berries. I always loved seeing SoFull’s smiling face. There was something so comforting about him; he was always able to cure any homesickness I was feeling. We got along so well; although we were so different, I think his laissez faire mentality rubbed off on me, and my competitive side rubbed off on him a little bit; or maybe he just evened me out. SoFull wanted to take his time the last 150 miles, I was on a bit of a time crunch to get to my mom.
The highlight of today was the beautiful ridgeline hike and crossing the 2500 mile marker.
The panoramic mountain range that I was walking toward, of course brought back my motivation. Several months later, as I look back on this day, I really remember this day. I loved this day. I was eager to see the beautiful landscapes that would come in the next couple of days.
A steep, long climb, stole all of my energy in the afternoon. This of course was followed by a steep descent into a beautiful valley with cascading creeks and fields of huckleberries.
I made it to a beautiful lake, but I wasn’t the only one who decided to camp at one of my favorite lakes on the PCT. Unfortuantely, I forget the name of the lake, but I am sure you could find it by looking at mile 2518.2. I had hurried to get to the lake and was a bit disappointed when it started getting dark and SoFull didn’t make it there.
There weren’t that many places to camp near the lake. 4 other hikers set up camp next to me, who I had never met before. I tried to fall asleep early, but the wind was so strong. My tent was obnoxiously flapping throughout the night. When the wind was blowing so hard, I always had an unrealistic fear that I would get blown away. I am not sure how staying awake all night would help keep me grounded, but I barely slept.
Around 3 am, I heard a scream “what the F$%*”, followed by a loud thump. I was too tired and cold to investigate the commotion, so my heavy eyes closed and I eventually fell asleep again.
September 16, 2017
Day 135: Mile 2518.2 to Mile 2546.6
Elevation Gain: 6400
Elevation Loss: 7300
I woke up to a chilly morning. I was debating staying in my tent until I was warm, but the 4 other hikers around me, were up and moving around. After getting dressed and more awake, I popped my head out of my tent and inquired about the events that occurred at 3 am.
A mouse had chewed this 19 year old kid’s tent in the middle of the night. Apparently, the mouse ran across the kid’s face, which for obvious reasons, woke him up and his first reaction was swatting at the mouse with his flip flop, which unfortunately ended up killing the mouse. He was a little traumatized by his murderous actions, which I thought was cute. I did feel bad for the poor little mouse though, but I can’t say my fear would have led me to do anything different. I am not sure what I would be more upset about; the fact a mouse ran across my face, or the fact that a mouse chewed through my $500 tent.
Eventually I got moving again, quickly knocking out the 4 mile steep descent and sat on a bridge waiting for SoFull to show up, as he didn’t camp with me the night prior. I patiently sat in my bright colored puffy jacket waiting for the sun to warm me up, which never happened. I heard SoFull before I saw him.
SoFull had this call he makes from far away, or he would be playing his wooden flute, so I always hear him before I see him. I remember the first time I heard SoFull’s call. I was on a steep accent, doing switchbacks, which seemed never ending. I heard this noise and throughout my climb and couldn’t figure out where it was coming from, or what it was. Ever since that day, his call always motivated me. I wonder if he knows what this did for me.
Shortly after seeing SoFull, I began the 5 mile, 2800 foot climb. It actually wasn’t terrible. Although the climbs are much steeper, the views are more incredible, so they are so rewarding. I think back to Oregon and how I didn’t think it was as easy as everyone else thought it to be. I think the views really contribute to my perception of the difficulty of the climbs. If there are spectacular views to look forward to, the climbs didn’t seem so bad; the beauty of Oregon was hidden beyond the smoke and trees, which made the climbs seem never ending.
Glacier Peak Wilderness was more enchanting than I ever imagined it would be.
The glaciated mountains, cascading creeks, maroon huckleberry bushes touched by fall, and green meadows, are more than I ever expected.
The descent was very long and I had been pretty slow all day, so I knew I needed to pick up my pace a bit. So, I started running and felt so good, I decided to try and make Steheiken a day earlier.
When I arrived at camp, I was happy to see Lunch Box was setting up camp and asked if I could join him. We enjoyed dinner together before getting too cold and retiring to our tents. The sound of Minors Creek quickly put me to sleep.
September 17, 2017
Day 136: Mile 2546.6 to Mile 2569.4
Elevation Gain: 3300
Elevation Loss: 5400
I started the morning with Lunch Box quite early, trying to make the last shuttle to Steheken. People on the trail would often joke with me about not keeping hiking partners for very long. The longest I hiked with someone was for 2 weeks and that was Ranger. For the introverted person, being with other people for 24 hours a day, is very hard. I really wanted to like hiking with a group, but when I tried, it only lasted for a short time. I had accepted this, eventually.
Steheken is a small town located at the far end of Lake Chelan. Steheken is only accessible to non thru-hiking folks by float plane, ferry or by hiking in. Steheken is the last on trail resupply location for PCT hikers. There is a shuttle that picks hikers up, 4 times daily during Hiker season and takes them to Steheken via a dirt road. I had originally planned on getting on the 3 pm shuttle, but once I started moving, I thought maybe, just maybe I could make it to the 1230 shuttle. This meant that I would have to keep a consistent 4 mph pace. I didn’t need to be there by 1230, I kind of just wanted to test myself.
Well, I made it by 1230! I was basically running the entire time, and sprinting the last 2 miles, but I made it. The shuttle makes a stop at the famous bakery in Stekehen. I ordered 2 cinnamon rolls, a sticky bun, a pumpkin muffin with cream cheese filling, a cream cheese danish and another famous danish they make. I wouldn’t be starving for sweets to say the least! I always wonder if hikers would think it is the best bakery on trail if they didn’t come in starving with hiker hunger. I mean the cream cheese danish with raspberries on top was the best I’ve ever had, but the pumpkin muffin was super dry and the Starbucks cream cheese filled pumpkin muffin is way better than theirs. I’ve definitely had better cinnamon rolls, so I think it’s just because hikers go in there starving that they think it’s to die for.
Fun fact, Lake Chelan is the largest natural lake in the state of Washington.
There was a storm coming in, that we all had been dreading, so I decided to get a hotel room for the final town stop. The bed at the lodge was super comfortable, but it was like all the other small towns. No television, no AC and no wifi. This stop reminded me of stopping at Kennedy Meadows, before the Sierra. Hikers were sitting around talking of the 5 day snow storm that we were about to walk into. My thoughts were that it was going to suck, but I had walked 300 miles in snow, I can do 3 more days.
I ran into Optimistic Turtle in Stehekin. She was kind of famous with the class of 2017. You could always count on her comments on the PCT Guthooks app. am sure the future classes will also appreciate her insights. When researching water sources or town visits, we would always ask what did Optimistic Turtle say?
My PCT blog posts are coming to an end, as there is only one more chapter to follow. Although it has been over a year since I began my journey, it feels like yesterday. I have at least two big adventures approaching this year, but nothing compared to the PCT. Finishing my blog posts will almost be like closing the book, which has been hard to accept and will be really hard when I finally post the last post.
Thank you for your patience and wonderful comments. Happy Trails ya’ll.
3 thoughts on “Just Keep Walking: Leavenworth to Lake Chelan”
Yay! So happy to get email saying you posted again! great pics as usual and nice to read your blog again. Wa is a beautiful outdoors state for sure and I will be sad for this when I leave it sooner than later. Closing on a house in Kuna, ID ( much more affordable than west coast ) Thursday though I likely will rent it out a yr so possible I will still be here in Western Wa for 1 more yr max. Will see. Anyway I digress and thanks again for the PCT post!
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I enjoy your journey.. I was out on pct 2017..
Crazy year.. I too have PTSD… Hiking helps me..
Did we ever run into each other? I’m glad that you’ve found hiking to be an outlet for your ptsd as well.