Ok, where'd we leave off?
RAILS TO TRAILS
We split from Astoria on a greyhound bound for South Bend, Washington. Katie had heard of a thing called "Rails to Trails" which is a program designed to connect communities by turning retired rail lines into hike & bike trails, so we decided to check out a 50 mile stretch from South Bend to Centralia, Wa.
The first few miles of the trail were well maintained. The trail led us through rural farmland and over crystal clear rivers. Being a Taurus, I just couldn't resist talking to all the pretty ladies in the pasture!
About twenty miles in the trail condition began to degrade, and soon we were walking over old rickety bridges that probably should have been torn down...
Now, it may not look like it from that there photo, but that bridge be high... Through decomposing rail ties you could see the river rushing some 100 feet below.
We had a night to kill before our train to Seattle, so we got a room at the historic Olympic Club in Centralia The "Oly Club" opened in 1908 and was home to gamblers, train robbers, and ladies of the night. Now owned by McMenamin's, the historic building is a hostel-like hotel, with two bars and a movie theater. We threw back a few beers and watched Baywatch that night; 'twas glorious.
KILLING A FEW DAYS WITH WONDERFUL PEOPLE!
The snow reports were still a bit intimidating, but the weather reports were promising. The sun had been out for the past two weeks, slowly melting away our fears. We wanted to wait until the first week of July had passed before we made a go of it.
We took the train to Seattle and stayed with my best bud Danny for two nights. Though I don't get to see him often, it always feels like we start up right where we left off. Thank you Danny for your hospitality and a wonderful run on the town.
We took a bus up to Bellingham to visit my grandma Mary. What a hoot! Grandma knows what Steven likes; we were off the bus and at Aslan Brewing company before I could say Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious! Our visit was just what we needed, a whole lot of relaxation and time to plan for what was to come. Thank you for everything Grandma, it was a wonderful visit.
We decided that we would access the Trail via Hart's Pass. This route would put us 32 miles south of the border. From this point we would hike up, "tag" the border, and head south to Walker Pass. We arrived at Ravensong's Roost on July 3rd and made up our minds to hit the trail on the 5th. If you've been following the blog, you'll remember that we met Ravensong while camping at Bullards State Park in Oregon. She happened to be away on another one of her adventures, but the Roost was open, and we had the place to ourselves.
We caught a ride to Hart's Pass in the back of a pick-up, on the morning of the fifth. The truck carried 8 hikers total up to the pass. For the most part everyone sat quietly, waiting to see what the snow levels would be like once the climb had finished. An hour and a half later, we were at the top of Hart's Pass, with only a few patches of snow in sight. Everyone seemed relieved and eager to get going. Once we got going, it was like we wandered into The Sound of Music.
TO THE BORDER AND BACK
Well, almost... After hiking a few miles, we were picked up by a guy driving to his yurt near Windy Pass. This cut five miles off of our trip north! The plan was to hike a full day, set up camp and slackpack to the border and back. We were making great time, then we came across Rock Pass... We realized that we had shown up too early...
Rock Pass is a north facing aspect, with tight switchbacks of small shale. Steep pitches of snow clung to the lose shale, and the only way down was a steep glissade to the east. I was eager to push forward, but Katie was wiser. We sat atop the mountain and stewed in our sense of defeat. Just thirteen trail miles away from the border, five as the crow flies. We descended the pass from the way which we came, camping amongst a large group of hikers.
The next morning we watched as group of 8 young hikers made their way up to the pass. We thought about heading up with them, but decided that it just wouldn't be safe. We shook off our disappointment and headed south.
The trail was quick to lift our spirits, with surreal alpine views, and a myriad of wildflowers.
That night we set up camp right where we started, Harts Pass. Over the next week we would find out that we were not alone in our decision to turn around at that pass. As we've said before we are not mountaineers, and the way we see it this trip is about experiencing as much as possible, without ending up in the hospital... or worse...
The next morning we felt energized knowing that we were finally making progress towards our ultimate goal. Our first resupply point was Stehekin, about 100 miles away. Along the way we hit our first large snow fields, but they were nothing that we felt uncomfortable doing.
With warm weather also comes swollen river crossings. A few of the river fords were tough, but most were easy. All around were signs of a rough winter; tons of blowdown, collapsed or washed away bridges, and washed out trail.
LOST AND FOUND
Ya lose a few things, ya find a few things. So far we have found two beanies, a hat, one sock and a dry sack. We have lost one hat, a trekking pole, and our beloved spork. Believe me, the spork is your friend, without it you are screwed. We still had a few days to the Stehekin, so i whittled one out of wood!
Stehekin is a beautiful little town on the northwest end of Lake Chelan. This town is only accessible by boat, sea plane, or hiking. A bus ran by the National Parks Service picks hiers ups at the trail head and drives them the 12 miles to town. The Lake was so beautiful that we had to stay two nights. The water was freezing but sun was out and the wind was warm. This town has a feel all its own, and if you ever have the chance, GO!!!
Stehekin is known for its bakery and its barefoot gardner, Carl. We sampled the delicious baked goods then made our way over to Carls place to see what the fuss was all about.
Carl has an amazing garden that he maintains himself. He has several hives of bees, as well as 4 Toggenburg goats. He makes goat cheese and honey products to sell along with his organic vegetables!
So as you can imagine, there is little to no cell service up here. I am doing my best to keep this blog up to date, but if you look at the tracker you'll see i'm about 200 miles behind. We are leaving Snoqualime Pass as soon as i hit post. I'm hoping to have the next post up by next Friday.
Lots and Lots of snow in the next update!
Thanks for reading & lots of love.
-Steve and Katie