At Dinsmores Hiker Haven, Mile 2461
This morning, we all piled in the truck and headed up to the Cascadia for breakfast. I had a huge scramble, hash browns, toast, half of Meander’s biscuits and gravy, and somebody else’s bacon. And somebody’s extra ice cream bar on the way home. Jerry just kind of looked at me, and I said, “No, I don’t normally eat like this.” LOL
Today I had the pleasure of meeting Meander (aka Edward Intven, think “In da Van”). I’ve seen him several places online, and he’s a delightful gentleman with a lovely spirit. He joined us for breakfast, and met up with Flash, who is staying with the Dinsmores, and River, who just dropped by the restaurant. They are all members of the Class of 2013, and it was a complete and wonderful coincidence. I had the pleasure of sharing a table with them at breakfast. Fun times!
Let’s see, who else is here. I met Climbin’ Lineman (aka Carl), who is a gentleman of retirement age, from Salt Lake. He is very devout, and because of that will not travel on Sundays. More power to him.
Patriot is here…we met at Snoqualmie. He’s in his late teens, and from Louisiana. He’s also an Eagle, and so he and Brendan spent some time geeking out over Scouts yesterday.
Other names I remember: Trout (aka Gone Slow), Shady Acres, Heather, Kirby, Weekend, Double Happiness, Penny Lane (aka Jen Marie), Daniel Barrett (a Triple Crowner, trail name unknown). Wish I could remember everyone’s name.
After breakfast, Andrea broke out the camera. She keeps an online album every year, with all of the hikers who come through.
Yesterday, I just hung out with Andrea, Jerry, and the hikers. I really needed a quiet day, especially with all the emotions regarding my decision. Jerry and I went down for coffee yesterday afternoon. He’s got a large group of friends in the community, and they’re always meeting at the restaurant. It’s kind of like Dad and the boys down at the marina.
Dinner was easy: we all pooled our money, and Jerry and a few of the hikers went down to Gold Bar to pick up pizza. Lots of pizza. Enormous quantities of pizza. Everybody hung out in the hiker dorm, swapping tales, inhaling dinner, etc. Mellow and very peaceful.
So, the decision. I was correct to assume that the Dinsmores have the latest info. Andrea was talking with the powers that be on a regular basis, and posting what she learned in the hiker dorm.
It’s clear what I need to do, and it’s not the decision I wanted to make. I’m going to continue my footpath, north from Stevens (mile 2461) to the trail closure at Suiattle River (mile 2538), and come off of the trail. The factors in that decision:
- The PCT is closed from the Suiattle River Trail (mile 2538), north to Stehekin.
- Highway 20 is closed west of Rainy Pass, at Newhalem, due to a fire and landslide. This effectively shuts off any trail access from the west, north of the Suiattle closure.
- Highway 20 has been periodically closed east of Rainy Pass, due to the Okanogan Complex fires.
- The only way to get to Stehekin is to take Highway 2, east over Stevens, to Chelan (via Wenatchee, if you’re on a bus).
- From Stehekin, it’s possible to hike north to Rainy Pass, and from there to the border. However, Forest Service personnel, volunteers, and knowledgeable residents have warned about smoke and ash, due to the current fires, and due to the smaller fire north of Rainy Pass.
- I have asthma, and I have a proclivity towards bronchitis.
- Unlike hikers from out of state, it’s easy for me to get back on the trail next year, at Suiattle.
So for now, it looks like my hike is over at Suiattle River. That will give me roughly 300 miles this year, with another 100 and small change next year. Andrea recommends returning in early to mid July of next year, depending on the snowpack, so as to avoid the most dangerous part of wildfire season. And my guys completely get this, and are totally willing to support me as I return to the trail next summer.
This is NOT how I wanted my hike to end. I wanted to finish at the Northern Terminus. I guess sometimes we don’t get what we want, and it works out for other reasons. I’ll be home with Patrick at the beginning of school. Not quite the first day, but the first week. I get to spend time with Steve, learning about wine, which is his passion. But I’ve got to let myself grieve the plan that I had.
So I’ll enjoy my time here with friends, and then after breakfast tomorrow I’ll hitch up to the trail, and head north…to finish out this section of my dream.
*Photo credit: Jen Marie