Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Stevens to Stehekin

I decided to try and finish the trail 2 weeks after going home to Portland, Or.  The freezing level had rose to 8500' so I knew that it was possible to continue.  I set a goal of at least finishing the section.
I drove up to the trailhead that Storytime and I had exited 2 weeks before.  I quickly hiked the 9 miles up to Dishpan Gap.  It started to rain so I quickly set up the tent and dove inside - here we go again!
The wind had picked up next morning but the rain had stopped.  At least the wind dried out the tent and I eagerly packed up and started up the PCT.  I passed the campsite where Storytime and I had last seen I'm Fine.  The sun broke out as I rounded Indian Pass and my confidence grew.  Soon, Red Pass and White pass were passed.  I descended into the White Chuck drainage where camp was made.  It felt great to be back on the trail!
I was up early the next day to take advantage of the daylight.  Fire Creek pass was my next goal and the weather held - overcast with really dark clouds.  The sky looked just like it did when it dumped snow 2 weeks prior.  Sure enough, the rain turned to snow overnight and I grew concerned.  I left the tent at 6:00 am and considered bailing on the old PCT down Milk Creek.  At the junction, there was a sign stating the trail was not maintained.  I wasn't about to deal with that uncertainty so up to Vista Ridge I climbed.  It was slow going on the brushy switchbacks and had to knock the snow off the heavily weighted branches.  It snowed harder as I climbed and the trail was really difficult to follow above treeline.  I almost lost the trail before the GPS put me back on the right track.  It was very cold and windy as I passed the Dolly Vista campsite and descended down to the Suiattle River.  I took the new route and arrived at the old junction where I set up camp and built a fire.  One more pass to go!
The next morning I saw the fresh tracks of Dancing w/Lizards and Silent D.  I followed them up to the pass where they turned off to Holden via Cloudy Pass.  I continued on the PCT and made it to Hemlock Camp just before it started snowing again.  It was really cold the next morning and the aluminum tent poles had to be unfrozen to be separated and packed away.
I didn't have enough food to continue to Rainy Pass so made up my mind to exit at Stehekin and reassess.

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