September 1, 2015
Despite my state of complete exhaustion, sleep escapes me. Even here, on an actual bed that is dry and warm and designed to induce sleep, I have a fitful night.
Maybe it’s too dry and warm in here.
As soon as the digital bed side clock beams a reasonable morning hour, I abandon the effort altogether and start organizing. I check in on all the items I have hung around the room. Mostly dry, except for the corners of my pack.
After an hour of puttering, I recognize that I am ravenous. Usually towns days confuse my appetite. But this time there is no confusion, I need a third consecutive greasy spoon feast immediately. Weekend and I head back to the same diner as last night. The rancheros omelette is as richly cheesed and generously portioned as I need it to be. The coffee is as weak and disappointing as expected.
We look at the clock; it’s time to make a break for the ferry. I go to pay for my meal but my debit card is 100% not in my wallet. Classic Koopkat. In a few days, I’ll find out that the card is locked in the diner manager’s office for safe keeping.
At the ferry terminal, Weekend can’t find his wallet either. But he eventually finds it. We’re scattered.
Soon we board the Lady of The Lake and begin the long, slow ride to Stehekin. This time of year tickets are usually in high demand. But because of the fires, there are only a handful of passengers. Most of which are hikers. Weekend, DirtyBowl and I claim our own rows in the movie theater style indoor seating onboard. It is eerily empty. I spend the four hour ride swiping through photos, writing and watching the black, burnt hills float past. It’s a bleak scene.
But then we are in Stehekin! Wherein north bound hikers find a renewed lease on their adventure.
Stehekin is as charming as the hype has led me to expect. Though also empty. The lady running the craft shop tells DirtyBowl that the resort, which usually books out months in advance, is only at 5% capacity. Fires, man. All kinds of hurt because of them.
The day is overcast and mild so we opt to walk down the one road past a farm (DirtyBowl buys goat cheese and kale) and onto the bakery. The Bakery! The Stehekin Bakery of northwest lore. I order a cheesecakey berry square and then a sandwich that finally scratches the itch of my month long sandwich fantasy. I won’t apologize for dwelling so much on the topic of food.
The Bakery closes and we are displaced to the picnic bench outside. I meet three new hikers. I talk the most with a compact hiker named OneOfUs. We swap stories of Piute Mama and Legend. He has a spritghtly energy and humor about him that I get a kick out of. Another thing I’ll miss about this trail: the constant stream of mountain friends.
Instead of spending the night in Stehekin, DirtyBowl, Weekend and I decide to take the bus to the High Bridge Ranger Station. We should have reservations to camp here, but it’s getting dark and the spots are empty so we roll the dice and set up anyways.
The rain comes and goes, at will. I boil a pot of water and add grey goose and Kool Aid fruit punch powder. You’re welcome. Meanwhile DirtyBowl plays songs off her iPod through the mini speaker that make me think of college and feel feels.
When dark has settled, the rain picks up and we all get quiet in our respective tents.
I lay on my back and listen to the thrumming.
This is ending soon, isn’t it.