Oh my gosh, I can't believe how close we are. One last town, one last resupply and less than 100 miles (93 to be exact). Craziness.
I woke up to stunning views. I walked over the last rise only to find the whole giant group of folks I've been hiking on and off with, guess I camped 5 minutes too soon. Hawkeye, Kombucha, Wrong Way, Caveman, Matt, Big Slice and Eric were all just getting ready to go. Watched the sun rise as we prepared to head all the way down to Milk Creek. Who doesn't like a nice steep 3000 ft descent first thing in the morning? We went a little slower than usual and stopped to check in on a section hiking couple because one of them had taken a nasty fall crossing the snow the evening before. Everything seemed okay so off we went. Definitely different heading down in a giant group.
Walking past Mica Lake, apparently it's not usually frozen during thruhiker season, pretty cool sight though.
Down we went, the old Milk Creek bridge washed out and the PCT is now 2 miles longer to get to the new bridge. Finally hit the bottom and back up 3000 ft I climbed. Toast caught up and when we reached the top you just had to stop and gawk. Wish I'd taken more pictures, didn't realize the view would disappear so quickly.
A little more contouring and even some flat before heading down 4000 ft yet again.
That was one long descent. I was feeling kind of flat and was pretty surprised to hear voices as I neared a turn in the trail. Everyone was waiting at an intersection with the old PCT. What a fun surprise. Some years ago the bridge over the Suiattle River washed out and since then people have been using a giant log. But in 2011 a new bridge was officially finished and the trail now has a nice long extra section adding 5 or so miles but using an actual bridge to cross the river. Only some folks still use the old route even though it's not maintained. The big group had stopped to wait so we could all adventure the old way together. It sounded fun so after waiting a bit longer for the cousins we were off. First we crossed a different glacier fed creek, always good to start an adventure with wet feet.
The trail wasn't too bad but there was some bush whacking and yelling through the trees. Plus we had to search for the log once we got to the river bed.
Tree found, river crossed successfully. Pretty big river but not bad at all when the log is dry. Glad it's not rainy today.
After that we just had to find the trail again and then it was back to climbing another 3500 ft. The group spread out and by early evening I got to the top for a quick dinner with Hawkeye, Kombucha and Matt. Wrong Way and Caveman had decided to basically run 12 miles farther to get closer to the shuttle stop. We decided to stick to only 8 miles farther and even that was cutting it close with how early it's been getting dark.
We were booking it down the mountain and ignored a posted detour about a bridge. Figuring if stock are still allowed to use the real trail it can't be too bad.
All of our conversations keep coming back to how close we are and tonight was no exception. It was all chatter about the trail and talk about Stehekins' infamous bakery. It would be an understatement to say we are excited about it. Just as a side note, it was crazy beautiful our way but if you do take the detour it cuts off a mile or two and avoids a pretty big climb. We were pretty much jogging as the light disappeared from the valley and after hopping over yet another downed log and tripping on some bark I slowed down and grabbed an actual light. Continued on until I caught up with the others. We stopped at the creek with the downed bridge, no desire to cross that in the dark. Only 13 miles to Stehekin, our last stop before Canada!
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