Day 162: The Homestretch

It really is starting to feel like we might actually do this thing. I know that might seem like a funny thing to say, especially after a hundred and sixty-two days on the trail, but I’m not one to claim premature victory. Yet, tonight, we only have eleven days of hiking left to go, and the weather reports for that period say we’ll still have relatively clear skies and decent temperatures. Might we actually, truly make it the entire way?

We’re in Skykomish, Washington this evening, tucked away in a tiny hotel in town. This seems appropriate because it’s a tiny town, too, existing here because of the Great Northern Railroad a century ago. The PCT crosses the highway that we rode in on about fifteen miles away, at Stevens Pass Ski Area. (Yep, we had yet more hiking beneath ski lifts and on ski hills today. It seems like this is a very regular feature of PCT hiking in Washington.) We didn’t even really intend to stay in a town tonight, but coincidences of timing and food made it kind of a no-brainer. We’ll head out relatively early in the morning, but, for the moment, I’m glad to be inside…and warm.

Even as the hiking is still just as tough as ever, Washington seems to be getting more and more beautiful. The fall colors of all the underbrush are spectacular; we wander through fields of gold, green, red, and orange much of the day. There are lakes over every hill, and they seem to all be an amazing indigo color, ringed by almost Caribbean hues where the water is shallower. Everything is wet, lush, green, beautiful. It’s a gorgeous landscape to walk through, and I am so grateful just to get this chance.

We picked up our resupply package today, and our packs now weigh far, far too much once again. This is one of our longest stretches between resupply stops — 108 miles, or nearly six days at the rates we’ve been traveling recently in Washington. I expect this next segment to be grueling at times, but it’ll keep our heads up to know that it’s less than two weeks until we’re done completely. And our next stop, Stehekin, is a town I’ve been looking forward to for the whole trip: it’s nestled away at one end of a long lake, accessible only via trail or ferry, and is supposed to be particularly beautiful and remote. And…there’s an incredible bakery right on the way in. Only six more days and I’ll know for sure!

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