Friday, November 2, 2012

Last leg ?

Libby for Bouncer again.

So much has happened.   To backtrack.  Bouncer due out of the Alpine Lakes area  by Saturday October 13th.  The predicted rains did indeed hit on Friday.  It had been an unusually dry summer and early fall.  Those who made it through before the rain started are fortunate indeed.  It poured with rain as we sat at the trailhead at Stevens Pass.  We discovered that the rain found its way through the roof seams of the RV so Maks was in for a wet night in his loft bedroom- with 2 buckets to catch the drips.

We waited all the next day, reluctant to move from our spot.  At 5 pm Maks donned his rain gear and started to hike south. Not 10 minutes later I heard the whoops and hollers that signaled they had met on trail.  I was delighted to see that Storytime was with Bouncer.  Always safety in numbers when bad weather hits.
I'm Fine and Bouncer at the Skykomish Hotel
We drove down the pass to Skykomish- a sweet little railroad town that has a hotel catering to hikers.  The guys shared a room and, as they settled in, we ran into I'm Fine in the cafe.  He also had just come off trail and was eating a very large meal.   We all had dinner and  the hikers were able to watch Sunday night football.  The three ended up bunking together.
The next morning after breakfast in the cafe we drove to Baring to the Dinsmore's Hiker Haven.  They are the most northerly of the trail angels and Andrea takes her role as PCT mom very seriously- she frets and worries and rejoices with all the moms involved.  Once again, the hikers settled in.  We drove in to Gold Bar where the hikers bought their supplies for the next section.  Then back again for Monday night football.
Notice the sky in the background

I'm Fine at Hiker Haven


Bouncer ready to hit the trail

Storytime carries I'm Fine as a backpack

On Tuesday we took Bouncer and Storytime up to the pass.  It was snowing there, quite cold and very unpleasant.  Bouncer sat deliberating for an hour.  They had planned to hike in 5 miles as it was already afternoon.  The next day was forecast for sunshine.  Decision was made to return to the Dinsmores and get an early start in the morning. That way the tents and boots would stay dry.
Back at Hiker Haven a young couple had come off trail.  They were 30 miles north of Stevens Pass when their tent collapsed in the rain.  They turned back and were glad to be in the comfort of the wood stove as they dried out their wet sleeping bags and tent.
Oct 17 ready to hike north

Storytime with duck tape on his shoes.

posing under the web cam

To Canada
Stevens Pass Oct 17 doesn't look bad at all
On Wednesday we hit the pass again.  There was some snow built up but it was sunny and it wasn't raining.  Looked like it was going to be a win.  We took our usual pictures and said our farewells.  Storytime had covered his shoes with duct tape hoping that would help.  There was some apprehension for their safety.  This stretch is 117 miles without cell phone coverage, in a remote wilderness with Glacier Peak in the middle of it all.
Maks and I waited at the pass for 2 hours.  When they didn't come back we thought we had the all clear and we drove off for a 4 day mini-vacation around Lake Wenatchee, Leavenworth  and Lake Chelan.  The weather was gorgeous.  It was warm and very sunny. We had a very relaxing time doing a bit of shopping, sight-seeing and reading our books.
On the 3rd day  it was time to stop the denial and check the weather to the west. There were rumors of cold weather and snow. We drove 27 miles up the Entiat River road " Gateway to Glacier Peak".  It was still sunny. At mile 28  the rain had started.  At mile 30 it was snowing with wind swirling around and it was so very cold.  I could not imagine Bouncer and Storytime out there- 20 miles west and another 2000 to 3000ft.
Entiat River road
higher - right in the heart of the storm.  We drove out in silence.  Only one thing to do: figure out how to rescue them.
Entiat River Rd.
We headed for Winthrop where the following day we would try to find a way to get to them.  Around 5 pm we had a call from Bouncer.  They had turned around and found a side trail that took them down to the N. Fork of the Skykomish.  It was a decent trail and was accessed by a forest road that was intact.  They were back at the Dinsmores and  getting warm.  Wonderful to see them again.  They had hiked for two days in sunny weather and got 30 miles in.  Then it rained all day Friday and they stayed in their tents.  By Saturday morning they were in 2 feet of snow and it was really cold.

I'm Fine had hiked past them.  He wanted to keep going even though it was getting difficult to find trail.   Gonzo was also out there somewhere.   We later found out that Gonzo also turned around.
I'm Fine took 16 days to get the 100 miles to Stehekin.  He went 5 days without food.  His will be one of the oft-repeated stories of the challenges of the North Cascades.  The SAR was called out but he walked into Stehekin under his own power.  The same storm meant the end of a dream for  some hikers in Stehekin:  Flatlander and Flower, Special Delivery and the Canadians.  End of hike.  A very determined group hitched into Winthrop to borrow snowshoes and were able to complete their journey .  Bouncer and Storytime were elated to get out alive with all fingers and toes.  Later their emotions changed to the reality that they were done.  No thru-hike for them. They had made the right decision and came out alive.  I think it is more of a failure to lose your life than to fail to reach Canada.
We drove home down I5 , Storytime came home for the night with us , and they stepped back into every-day life.

We kept watching Facebook and reading blogs of those who made it through- and those who came so close.  They were getting texts from those who made it to the monument.
Then I'm Fine was missing - he was way overdue and had not picked up his package in Stehekin. The Facebook page lit up with the hiking family expressing their heartache that their friend was in trouble.   Two days of anxiety- and the good news that he is okay.
Now a break in the weather has put the snow levels back up to 9000 to 10000 feet.  Do you think there's a chance to get it done?  Will let you know how it all turns out next time this is updated.  We will be leaving this Sunday for Stevens Pass and maybe points north.  Will let Bouncer write the next post.


  1. Can't wait to hear about it. Good luck Bouncer!


  2. Looking forward to pictures of a drunken xmas on the trail. Hope you didn't have an 80lb pack like those people who finished on the 18th. They made maybe 6 miles a day. A luxurious pace. Good luck!