8-27-17, PCT mile 2569.4, 22.8 miles
Stehekin is an idyllic little town accessible only by ferry on the edge of a giant alpine lake surrounded by mountains with a beautiful historic lodge. It is a truly beautiful place, run by a bunch of assholes.
When we first arrived, I felt regret that I had never visited before. I grew up in eastern Washington and had been to lake Chelan on a handful of occasions, but only on the east side near the town of Chelan. The character of the lake there is very different. It is in a rainshadow desert and the terrain around it is flat and unremarkable. The lake is large enough that the west side is not visible from town, nor are the surrounding mountains. After a few hours of being in the town, this pang of regret quickly dried up. Another hiker put the general affect of the place in perfect terms: Everything nice thing about Stehikin came with a “but”. The restaurant had a great view but the food was shitty, the waitstaff was rude and we weren’t allowed to sit inside. There were outlets available to charge but most of them didn’t work. There was a place to camp but it was up a giant hill. There was a free shower but it was completely backed up and the grey water filth was a half an inch deep across the entirety of the bathroom floor.
Another disappointing development: my Inreach Explorer GPS device shut down and would not turn back on. $450 and it lasted 5 months before shitting the bed, just great. It would not function for the remainder of the trip. According to our tracking we are still in Stehekin. Just hanging out.
That morning we had gotten a ride from a park across the river from the trail. The shuttle to town was in an repurposed red bus from the 1960s. The driver was a sixtyish man with an eyepatch. When we went to pick up our resupply packages, he was also the postman. The following day a man of similar age age was driving the shuttle to the bakery which, by the way, was the one bright light in Stehikin. It was excellent. There we would get a bit of behind the scenes knowledge regarding the disrepair and general hostility of Stehikin. I won’t give much of a description of the person who imparted this knowledge, to protect the innocent. This local overheard us disparaging the restaraunt and the facilities by the dock. He said that the man who owned much of the businesses there was named Dan. “Everyone hates Dan.” He said “and Dan hates everyone.” It was scant information, but seemed to explain a lot.
Anyway when I got off the bus I asked Sarah, in front of everyone, if that was the same bus driver as the day before. This was greated with a general silence and I immediately wished I could grab the words from the air, shove them back into my mouth and swallow them. Unfortunately I do not live in that kind of world. A round of laughter preceded a slurry of rhetorical questions. Are you serious? Etc. The man driving the bus had no eyepatch. His eyes were fine. It was a fairly big miss on my part and further evidence thatFluffy’s theory was correct. While we are on the subject, it occurred to me that perhaps the many people along the way popping out from behind a tree or walking over from a table in a cafe to warn us that we would die in the Sierra might have been part of some human rights group, trying to save us from the exploitive TV reality show we were all trapped in. Perhaps Fluffy himself had infiltrated the show and suggested the idea to try to free our minds. If so, he was too late. After Stehikin there was only one stop left: Canada. We were going all the way.