Day 137: Wednesday, September 18

In a room at the Stehekin Lodge (left PCT at mi 2580.2), walked 22.6 miles today

Woke up initially at 6:10, thinking that if I got started then, I could easily make the 3pm bus, but then I looked out of the tent and it was still pitch dark and raining and I decided against any such notions. At 7:15 I was awake again and left by 8 ... It was still raining, a colder harder rain than in the past few days, and it stayed that way for the first 5 miles or so. The first 3 miles were a climb that had many vista points that doubtless overlook something awesome on a clear day, but I'll never know what they were because it was socked in. Eventually I did get to a spot that had a ridiculous view, even with the clouds, of a massive wall of glaciers and peaks all around, with fresh snow at the top just a few thousand feet above the trail ... Couldn't take a picture of it because I didn't want to get the camera out in the rain, but it was one of the most spectacular points of the whole PCT. Later, the trail went through a similar valley and the sun was peeking out for a second, making a faint rainbow, and I did get a picture of that, plus video on the real camera (i.e. not immediately uploadable to the blog). So the morning wasn't a total loss.

With about 10 miles to go the sun came out and stayed out, and the rest of it was a pretty nondescript amble through some low-elevation forest next to a river. Caught up to Robin Hood and Carrot and passed them after some leapfrogging. Around 4:30, made it into North Cascades National Park, the 7th and final one of trail, and across the bridge (pictured below) to the High Bridge Ranger Station. Hung there, by myself at first then later with Carrot and Robin Hood, for an hour and a half, got my stuff all dried out in the meantime, then at 6 caught the bus to Stehekin. The driver had to stop to refuel the bus and told us that right next to the fueling station was a kind of town dump/charity clothes heap that was usually worth sorting through and we could feel free to take whatever we wanted. So we walked into some big dark warehouse in the middle of the Washington woods and came out with some fly threads: me a white fleece sweater-vest, and Carrot a wool peacoat and a "70s clown blouse" (I asked her to describe it personally, I can't really improve on that).

We got to Stehekin and it's too beautiful to describe. Immediately we went into the one restaurant and I had a rather steeply priced but very high-quality pasta dish with a quesadilla on the side. Afterward, it was dark and the hotel office was closed so we wandered around for awhile hoping we'd run into Hermes and Lotus, who we thought had a room ... Another hiker told us they were actually camping for the night, so we went to purchase a hotel room for ourselves, getting special after-hours entry to the hotel office through our new friend the waitress at the restaurant. The room was exorbitantly priced for what it is, which is tiny and devoid of normal amenities, but no one cares, we're dry and happy and full and cleaned up. We have a no-alarms pact for tomorrow morning. Almost certainly going to be a zero tomorrow.