2 October 2013:
After a full day of R&R in Stehekin, we needed to hit trail again to begin the first leg of the final section to Rainy Pass. Because of the government shutdown Stehekin was empty of all other guests, so UB and I were well taken care of by the staff especially Griffin our waitress, Mary at the store and our friendly bus driver!
We had to dry out all our gear which meant hanging out tents, food bags, gear and packs. Luckily we had a heater and fan in the room to dry out our soggy shoes. It was probably the worst pack explosion I’ve had all trip!
The sun was shining when we left on the 8am bus, past the ranch to get fuel for our stoves, then onto the ranger station at High Bridge. However as predicted the rain soon started to fall again, making the 20 miles to Rainy Pass long, cold and wet.
We kept looking up at the mountains where the snow line was creeping lower and lower. After hearing that others had to turn back in the following stretch from Rainy to Harts Pass because of high snow levels, we weren’t feeling confident with the new snow falling. We were quiet for most of the day, both individually contemplating what the next day would hold for us. Would the road walk and alternative route be our only option? Would we have to miss the next section and try from Harts Pass? Could the snow be so deep now that the remaining trail would be impassible?
When we reached the highway we were both cold and miserable. We had considered staying in the toilets at the pass, but because we were so wet and cold we had already decided to hitch into Mazama or Winthrop. First of all the toilets were locked, but miraculously the car that picked us up from the highway was driven by Alena (the woman completing the PCT on her horse whom I’d met just before Tahoe), her brother Cameron and Rustic, another fellow thru hiker UB knew well.
We couldn’t believe our luck as they whisked us away down to Mazama to stay in a cottage rented by Pimp Limp’s mum and Hercules’ parents. I honestly thought I was dreaming when they told us how Hercules, Night Crawler and four others had rented snow shoes to battle the Rainy to Harts Pass section. I looked at UB and said “we need to do that!”
We dried off at the cottage that night and arranged for Hercules’ parents to drive us to the gear store in Winthrop in the morning to rent snow shoes and purchase more gear. Alena and the boys were planning to head to Harts Pass in the morning to attempt the final section, and I was incredibly amazed at the logistics and planning that go into moving, feeding and resting a horse on the trail. If she is able to complete the trail she will be the first solo woman rider to have done so.