The bus from High Bridge to Stehekin only ran a few times each day, so as anxious as I was to get into town, I didn't rush to get out of camp either. I'd either have to leave well before sunrise to catch the first bus, or linger and take my time for the second bus. I chose to linger. A few miles into my hike, The Graduate caught up with me. It was good to see another familiar face. I had been wondering what happened to him. I knew he had planned to get off the trail long enough to hike the 93-mile Wonderland Trail around Mount Rainier, but saw in a register that he decided to put that idea on hold. So I hd assumed that he was long far ahead of me. How did I get ahead of him? As it turned out, he took a week or so off at his parent's place near Mount Hood providing trail magic. Sheeze, he takes over a week off the trail and still catches up with me. Show off. ;o) He still wanted to hike the Wonderland Trail, but Canada Fever had bit him and he wanted to finish the PCT first. After that, he told me, he'd still like to go back to Mount Rainier and finish the Wonderland Trail. Crazy. *shaking head* I, for one, couldn't wait to get off the trail! He couldn't seem to get enough of it.
In fact, he started telling me that he was already thinking about thru-hiking the Florida Trail this winter, then the Arizona Trail, connecting up to the Continental Divide Trail, and deep into the Canadian Rockies.... From the sounds of it, the PCT was nothing more than a "practice hike." It didn't start out that way, but it was turning into that! The Florida Trail part of his hike, I'm rather pleased to admit, was inspired (partially, at least) by my own stories of thru-hiking the Florida Trail a couple of years earlier. I tried to warn him off of it. The road walks.... the loneliness.... But he wanted to keep hiking, and the options in the winter are a bit more limited. The Florida Trail and Arizona Trail are two distinctly winter hike destinations. He has a map on his website at http://benmayberry.net/map/?trip=4 showing his intended route from Arizona into Canada. At the moment, he's currently hiking the Florida Trail, but wisely started with a "thru-paddle" of the Everglades--a 100-or-so mile water path from Flamingo to Everglades City. In a sort of "reverse inspiration," I find myself strangely compelled by this idea. Perhaps someday, I'll do that little segment myself! The Graduate doesn't have a detailed blog of his journey, but you can at least follow along where he's at on his trip map. He's got a little SPOT device that pinpoints his location on a map every ten minutes. (At least while it's on.)
|Almost to Skehekin!|
We caught the 12:15 bus to Stehekin, making numerous stops along the way to pick up and drop off passengers. High Bridge was the end of the line and not many people got on the bus with us, but it grew increasingly crowded the closer to Stehekin we got.
The bus also makes a stop at the legendary bakery we'd been hearing about for hundreds of miles. I stayed in the bus--I'm always a little leery about leaving my mode of transportation behind me--but The Graduate jumped off for a cinnamon roll along with about half the other passengers. After about five minutes, everyone was back on the bus.... except The Graduate. What happened to him? Was he buying out the whole store?! The bus waited a couple of more minutes, and finally we saw him step out of the store, loaded down with several bags of food. WTF?
"It's like this," he explained. "They have a $20 minimum for credit cards. So I had to buy $20 worth of stuff."
"Seriously?" This cracked me up.
|The Skehekin River, as seen from High Bridge.|
"$19.36," was the reply.
"And they wouldn't let you use a credit card for a $19.36 order?"
"Nope, so I had to go find something else to buy!"
I guess this took a few minutes before he finally had enough to cover the $20 minimum.
"Hey," he told me, "you want a cinnamon roll? I have three of them!"
"Yeah, sure, I'll be happy to help you out of this bind." =)
So I ate an enormous, head-sized cinnamon roll on the rest of the way into Stehekin. The Graduate refused to let me pay for it. I even had cash to cover it--surely he needed cash so he wouldn't be suck with a $20 minimum credit card order the next time he visited a business, but no.....
The bus followed the Stehekin River, a scenic little river, from High Bridge into Stehekin, but my jaw fell off when we turned the last curve into Stehekin and saw the town nestled on the side of a steep gorge holding Lake Chelan. I've heard about the beauty of Stehekin, but WOW! This one rates, hands down, the most scenic town EVER!
|The bus to Stehekin.|
The town is situated at the north end of Lake Chelan. Lake Chelan is 55 miles long, but only 1 mile wide, and is the third deepest lake in the country, nestled into a deep gorge that's kept the town so remote.
The town does have a post office, and that was the first place The Graduate and I hit. We arrived just before the boat with the mail was expected to arrive (even the mail was delivered by boat!) and the one worker there
got us our packages. Fortunately, it was in the cabinet right there in the post office. If it was downstairs or upstairs, she told us, we'd have to wait until after the boat came since she wouldn't have had time to retrieve it. Seems like town life is centered around the arrival and departure of boats. She had a load of mail to deliver to the boat, and had to pick up whatever mail the boat brought.
|Giant cinnamon rolls at the bakery.... And the thing|
is about two inches thick!
We finally got our room, and I started laundry going at the public laundry facilities, and mosied around town performing necessary tasks. I made a couple of phone calls from a public phone--a satellite phone--which I was relieved wouldn't cost any more than a regular pay phone. Whew. I could just imagine calling Amanda. "Hi! I made it to Stehekin! On track to arrive in Canada as expected. Gotta go because every word I say is costing me a dollar!"
|The most beautiful town EVER!|
I went back to move my clothes from the washer into the dryer to discover that I didn't have enough quarters to dry my clothes. I was one quarter short. =( Oh, screw it. I don't need dry clothes anyhow! I carried the wet clothes back to my room and laid them out on lamps, the window sills, and on the bed. They weren't cotton. They should be dry by morning.
Danny dropped by, and The Graduate, Danny, and I headed over to the restaurant for dinner. I ordered the "thru-hiker dinner burger" because I was a thru-hiker, and it sounded good. =) After ordering, Shades and Neon came in and joined us. I'm not sure when they got into town--I think they might have just arrived on the last bus of the day along with several other hikers and were still quite dirty. But food was food, and us thru-hikers have no shame. =)
|The last post office of the trail....|
And that was that. After dinner, we broke up and went our separate ways. The Graduate and I went back to our room where we read most of the night away the books and magazines we had. The Graduate was engrossed in a book about lightning which he picked up from the book exchange at the post office. I was trying to finish my Agatha Christie book so I could leave it at the book exchange and not have to carry it the rest of the way to Canada.
|I had to take a photo of The Graduate's register entry at the post office.|
Just in case you wanted to know how much $20 could buy you. =)
|I really should have put something next to the "thru-hiker dinner burger" to|
get a better sense of size, but I didn't. I like that they needed a knife
to hold the whole thing together, though. Nice touch! =)