A short day into Stehekin resort, an hour in town, then back on the trail. I didn’t have to go into town, but I had the opportunity and the bakery calleth.
I was up before six and one of the other hikers was awake and starting to cook breakfast. I got ready quickly and probably got on trail about 7 am, but I was not looking at my watch. The other hiker was packed up when I left, but he was at the river getting water. I was within striking distance of Stehekin, but still had not decided if I was going or not.
About an hour into the morning, I got passed by another hiker, Shortcut. She knew that one of the shuttles arrived right at noon. At my current pace, I was due to get there between 11:30 and 11:45. Hmmmm, so the timing would be good. And there would be two more shuttles coming out from town to get back to the trail.
I hiked on and kept thinking about town and the bakery. There really wasn’t anything in town that I needed except to charge my phone. But the bakery was a big draw. I probably need to take half a day in Mazama tomorrow anyway since it is my last town and last resupply and it has been nearly a week since I showered and did laundry. Stehekin has showers and laundry, hmmm. If the bad weather comes in, I might need an extra day and will need to get ahold of Ken to change my pickup day.
I got to the ranger station right at 11:45 and shortcut was already there. At this point, a three hour delay getting into Mazama had no impact. There’s no way I could do 32 miles to get in today, and whether I get there at 11 am or 2 PM makes no difference at all. Bakery it is.
The shuttle arrived at 12:15 and was due to leave again at 12:30. About ten hikers got off the bus, so there were plenty of people to interrogate. And they had bakery food with them, so I got to see first hand that it was worth the stop.
I was originally planning on only going to the bakery, and waiting for the return bus from there. But after reading signs at the ranger station that the next 16 miles of campsites were by reservation only, it looks like I had to go all the way into town to go to the information center to get a camping permit. If I was to get on the 2 PM return bus, I would not get hiking until 3 and there’s no way I could make 16 miles starting that late in the day. Plus, from Stehekin to Rainy pass where I hitch to Mazama from is a sustained 4000 ft climb.
I get on the bus and the driver sayas he stops at the bakery for five or ten minutes. Perfect, I can hit both the bakery and town on the same shuttle. The scenery is gorgeous along lake Chelan and private homes are scattered about. I see my first bear of the trip from the bus. A mother and two cubs.
We make our stop at the bakery, and I get a chicken pocket, a slice of.pizza, a cup of broccoli salad and a root beer. We’re allowed to bring it and eat it on the bus. Score. I only have time to eat the chicken pocket. We arrive at Stehekin at 1:15. Only 45 minutes until the next shuttle leaves. There is also a ferry there that will leave at 2:00 to take guests back to their cars. The only way to this place is by ferry or boat plane. I don’t think the dirt road the shuttle takes leads anywhere useful.
I make a beeline for the information center to get my permit. I learn that the forecast begining Friday night calls for rain turning to snow, then snow for the next three days. Joy. Next up is to look for an outlet. After trying two outdoor outlets that are dead, I find a live one in the bathroom. I leave the phone and battery charging while I go to the balcony to eat. By the time I am done, it’s 1:50, only ten minutes until the bus leaves.
I run to the gift shop to see what they have. They have very little food, but they do have bandaids. My left heel is healed, and the right one is close to healing, but if weather turns sour, I will need more bandaids. I think about getting ice cream, but their selection is poor, so I pass. I run back to the bathroom to get my electronics and head to the bus.
These buses are special built for the National Park Service. Karen and I first saw them on our honeymoon in Glacier National Park where they call them jammer busses. They are cute on the outside, but just regular city buses on the inside. They get the job done. Their roofs have windows in them so you can see the mountains above.
On the trip back, we stop at the bakery again, so of course I have to go in. This time it’s blueberry pie and a sticky bun for tomorrow. I eat the pie on the bus. We make another stop at the Stehekin guest ranch. I thought it was farm on the trip in. This place has hiker tent cabins, three meals, and laundry for $110. Sounds like alot, but three meals in town would be well over $70. The lodge in town was $150 a night. My permit and campsite was $0, not including $14 in fare to ride the bus both ways. The free camping permits are not free if you have to ride their bus to get them.
When I get back to the trailhead, ten more hikers are waiting to go into town, Including the rest of the hikers I camped with last night. I give them the lowdown then head up the trail. My campsite is 8 miles, so that should take me to within an hour of dark.
The trail is not a continuous climb like I thought it was going to be, but it more or less is, but they manage to sneak in a 100 ft descent in every once in a while. After which you have to climb back up, of course. The trail is climbing the gorge with bridge creek flowing through it.
I get to camp right at 6:30 and find a perfect site for the hammock. I set it up quickly, and find a cable in the trees for a bear bag, so I get that going quickly. They have signs all over warning of recent bear activity. And I did see the family.of three from the bus, so safety first. I cook quickly, hang the rest of my food, then head to bed. I do not have to get up too early tomorrow, as it is less than 12 miles to the road to hitch to town. I get to sleep in until sunrise, but not much later, because the trail is more climbing and will be much slower than this morning.