Chronicles of the Wayward Moot

WELCOME TO THE MOOT, oh world-wanderers and word-whisperers. After two years of Peace Corps. After 2,200 miles on the Pacific Crest Trail. What. Comes. Next?

23/09/2008

I tried and tried to get this contraption to accept some photos for upload but no dice, so how about some more prose?

Woke up the morning of the 20th after cowboy camping in the middle of a sea of jagged peaks.  From where I slept I could see almost ten miles of the PCT stretching out below me on two sides.  Heck, from where I slept I could clearly see the campsite where I'd spent the previous night.  That never happens!  I carry two camera batteries and they were both drained from just three and a half days of use, so I had no way to record the wonderful sunrise other than to just look at it and soak the colors into my psyche.  Clouds had rolled in overnight and down in the glacially-carved valley below there were thick banks of a chilling fog sweeping up the slopes.  It was to be the first day I'd hiked under clouds in weeks.  Over the next few hours I descended from 7,500 feet to 2,100 feet, passing several hikers whom I hadn't seen in weeks or months.  The tickling in my throat had become a raging soreness and every muscle was wracked with fatigue whenever I stopped moving, so down into the fog I pushed, comforted to know that I was soon to be within reach of Stehekin, Washington with its ranch and lodge with legendary food thought to rival the fare at Drakesbad.  Stehekin boasts a pastry company / bakery that is reputed to be the best EVER so I was keen to check that out as well.  To get there would require a push of 25 miles before 6:15 pm to catch the shuttle into town annd I was on target to make that with hours to spare until I stopped for a rest and felt my physical condition collapsing.  Shuffling through papers with maps and data points and going over the advice of other hikers in my mind I determined that if I only went 21 miles I could reach a campsite with a cool wooden shelter complete with hanging bunk and nearby water.  Sounded good so I ground out the remaining 6 miles, in the process meeting two fun girls and their two fun dogs out for a couple of weeks on the trail.  Even in my weak conditionn I passed them but was happy to see them camping outside the shelter after I'd been there a while.  We got to talking and eventually shared dinner and dessert over chat about guiding in Alaska and sea kayaking.  Once we were all stuffed and yawning the rain began and it didn't let up for the entire night.  Even though thoroughly exhausted and sheltered from the wet by the shingle roof of the rustic shelter I got pretty much no sleep as my throat was raw and rest eluded me.  The next day I was out of camp early to give myself enough time to stagger through a fever to the bus stop.  Cold and wet from my pants soaking up all the evening's moisture on the trailside foliage I made it to High Bridge, marveled at the fish dancing in the blue-green waters below, and spied several bohemian hiker-types sitting around.  Their ride offered me a ride and after goodbyes were exchanged I hopped into a pickup truck just before the shuttle arrived.  My new friend said that was her last day in Stehekin and was helpful in letting me reserve a spot at the ranch (four all you can eat meals included!!!) so when we later passed the bakery I got her a cinnamon bun as big as her head. 

Since then Stehekin has been a haven while I do what I can to get over this awful cold and plan out the next part of the hike.  A ton of thru-hikers were in town yesterday and so we took over the lodge's restaurant and then had a fire and beer-fueled ukelele recital in the lakeside structure built just for such chance gatherings.  Imagine:  A town of fewer than 100 people on the shores of the country's second-deepest lake in the middle of a vast mountain wilderness decides to built a small one roomed bungalow with windows all around and some adirondack chairs and a beautiful raised fireplace.  All public, all access, no restrictions.  Fantastic.  Several of us gathered up the wood while others fetched some brews and in no time a low-key party had materialized.  The warmth from the fire and its light filled the room and our hearts as music plucked out of a bit of wood and string smoothed out the bumps in the trail and our lives.  Pure human goodness.  Maybe this kind of thing is commonplace for other hikers reading this but since the majority of my hike I've been alone or part of only a small group, this gathering was a real treat for old Bobcat.  Names of those present last night included Prison Rob, Slick B, Mr. Clean, Raffiki, FireTongue, Dogwood, Hatchet, and many more.

Stehekin's main street has a tiny little post office with a very nice postmaster (not postmistress, she tells me...gotta be PC) above which one finds the recreation center with a TV (satellite and more channel choices than I can handle), a pool table, and this computer with its maddeningly slow internet.  I crawled in here this morning with a box of food and gear in tote planning on camping out on the overstuffed chair to read and catch up on the news and basically rest in a warm dry place.  Mission accomplished, though I don't know how much better I'll feel tomorrow.  The sickness has been with me for about four days now so I expect it will pass in another day or so.  Hope so, since my body is hopping with anticipation of this next section, supposedly one of the toughest and most beautiful of the entire trail, and from this direction I get to end it with a visit to the trail angels in their "River Haven" in Skykomish, WA.  Perhaps even more interesting is my plan to go off trail for a day and attempt to visit what the map and guide book call Gamma Hot Springs.  What's that?  Well apparently it's 140 degree water bubbling ouf of the side of Glacier Peak, a dormant volcano draped in ice.  Wish me luck.
Love to all. 
-Flying Bobcat.

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