Sunday, September 16, 2012

Day 141 - The Last Town

Friday was about 20 miles of downhill, following a stream toward the town of Stehekin, the last town stop on the trail.  I saw Steve and Alice at a crossing of the stream where the log bridge had broken.  They had just waded across and then spotted a large log downstream and told me to cross there.  I took a break at the log and debated when I'd be able to reach the trailhead at the top of the road going into Stehekin.  There is a shuttle bus that runs every few hours.  I didn't think I would make the 12:15 bus, doing nearly 20 miles by noon usually means 6 hours of non-stop hiking, not my kind of hiking.

I ended up reaching the road a little before 1:00.  Steve and Alice had apparently made it.  I hung out at a picnic table in the shade and ate everything I had left in my pack, which wasn't much.  John Wayne arrived a little while later along with several day hikers.  The bus came back around 3:00 and took us down the road to town.  On the way it stopped at a bakery where I bought a huge cupcake and an even bigger cinnamon roll.  The bakery is a popular resupply point for hikers who just load up on 3-4 days worth of bread, scones, muffins and rolls for the final days of hiking.  I had mom send a box of my standard food though; there's no store in town.

We got to town just before the post office closed, so John Wayne and I were able to get our boxes and sign the trail register there.  We hung out on the lodge's front porch until dinner time.  The town is only accessable by boat, ferry or floatplane (or hiking), it sits on the upper end of Lake Chelan in a huge, long valley.  There are a few homes scattered along the road up to the trail, a campground, lodge and restaurant at the ferry landing and a resort ranch.  John Wayne and I took the bus back up the road a ways to the ranch for dinner.  Dinner at the ranch great, BBQ ribs and chicken, potatoes, corn and pie.  We sat at some long tables and talked to a few of the ranch visitors about our hike.

I had planned on going back to the campground for the night.  But Steve and Alice were also there at dinner and had arranged for a ride back up to the trail that evening.  Since I had been able to get my food box and still had my pack with me I decided to join them in order to get an early start the next morning.  I just didn't get to go back to the bakery for more cinnamon rolls.  Sometimes life is just full of tough decisions like that.

We camped at a tiny campground near where the ranch bus dropped us off.


  1. It is amazing how much of the trail is all about timing. A few minutes here or there and you miss a ride or a second stop at a bakery. Considering you have been on the trail 5 months - it is interesting how each minute, hour or day actually counts.

  2. Stehekin is such a cool little town. Nathan and I and two of our friends spent a few days in Stehekin two summers ago before we came to Alaska. We read some of the entries in the trail register at the post office and ate at that bakery. We rented a cabin that was just up the road from the bakery.

    1. Definately a cool little town, very remote and secluded. But I was in too much of a trail-finishing mood to fully enjoy it. On the bus ride to dinner we picked up a guy who had been out fly fishing. He said he'd been catching 2-3lb cutthroat trout out of the river just above where it flows into Lake Chelan. The ladies I sat next to during dinner said they saw a few bears in an orchard nearby. I think a lot of hikers take a day off there before the final push to the border. Some even take the ferry down to the town of Chelan for a night.