What we thought would take 3.5 days from Steven’s Pass to Stehekin actually took us an additional 2 full days. I was conserving my phone battery for navigation as there was no sun to charge it with my solar panel, and as a result, I don’t have a lot of pictures or footage to share from the final three days heading into town.
When we crossed Fire Creek Pass and Mica lake on the 28th of September we experienced freezing rain on top of our already wet clothes and gear. The wind was picking up and my nerves started running high. The trail had turned into a gushing river with rapids coming down it and no way to avoid soaking wet feet. Luckily UB knew this part of the trail and was able to lead us through confidently and efficiently as there was no time or GPS signal to even check our location on our apps.
We slept at Vista Creek that night, a full day later than anticipated. Our tents were soaking wet and the only way to stay warm was to use our emergency blanket to cover the base of UB’s tent and throw our soaking wet clothes in my tent. We were still in great spirits despite our dangerous situation, and worked seamlessly as a team to ensure we set up camp in a way that would be survivable for another night.
We discussed the possibility of bunkering down for a full day if the rain continued, but the next morning at around 9am UB made the call that we needed to keep moving. And what a call that was! I had to get out of his tent undressed to conserve my dry clothing and run over to mine to put on soaking wet long johns and my base layer with cold wet rain gear over the top. Our strategy was to move forward 13 miles at low elevation in soaking wet clothes to conserve our remaining dry gear for a final 22 mile push over the last two passes the next morning. This decision may have saved our lives.
On our final night we were still smiling but extremely anxious about the day that lay ahead of us. So far UB had directed the operation flawlessly, and we now needed to dig deep and find the mental and physical strength to ensure our final push into town was in fact our final push. We didn’t have the option of another day on trail at this point.
We woke at 4am with nervous tension filling the tent and hit the trail around 5:30am while the world was still dark. I put on my remaining dry clothing and UB kept on what he was wearing which was still damp from the previous day. My headlamp stopped working about 5 minutes into the morning so I shone our only light from behind while we navigated some small steam crossings over snow covered logs through the dark.
Once we hit the top of the first pass the snow had really set in, but we ploughed on through about 8 inches of freshly fallen snow with UB navigating the trail from his earlier experience of Washington. What a blessing. Once we reached the final peak we still had 15 miles to hike down to High Bridge Ranger Station. We hiked at a close to running pace to keep warm and hopefully catch the 3pm bus to Stehekin. These miles went forever, but with adrenalin pumping through our veins we arrived at High Bridge at 2:30pm, with just enough time to make a warm apple cider and catch the bus while reflecting over the incredibly challenging 5 days we’d just survived.