Day 129

Day 129 – mile 2569 to 2596 – Stehekin Camp to Cold Granite Camp:
I loved Stehekin.  It was the perfect place to recover from my ordeal of the past 100 miles through the Glacier Peak Wilderness.  Beautiful setting along stunning Lake Chelan, a warm lounge with a comfy couch, sun, free camping, and the best bakery in the world.  I could have stayed a week.  I only stayed 20 hours, the trail calling me back to complete what I had begun months ago in the warm lands far south, the risk of new fires shutting down my way to the border forcing me into action.  Beat down, but dried out, I boarded the shuttle back to the High Bridge trail junction and away from this land of happy warmth.  One more stop at the bakery for a final luxury snack, then I was back on the trail to tackle the last section of my journey.
The walking was smooth as I eased back into my groove.  The path took me up the Stehekin River before branching north to follow Bridge Creek as it cut through a deep canyon lined by towering peaks, tops shrouded in roiling clouds.  Every now and then they would part, revealing a glimpse of the dusting of fresh snow that now highlighted the eccentric rock features.  It looked cold up there.  But it was warm in the canyon, with the sun beating steadily down as it dodged the worst of the cover, demanding that I apply sunscreen for the first time in days.
However, by the time I reached Hwy 20 at Rainy Pass, ready for a lunch break, the cloud cover was more complete and a cold wind had sprung up.  Rather than sitting around in the warm sun like I’d hoped I could do, I moved on to tackle the big climb of the day up to Cutthroat Pass, beginning the notoriously beautiful section of trail north to the border.
The climb was uneventful, but the peaky landscape to the west that gradually revealed itself as I gained elevation continued to impress.  More jags covered in a new dusting of snow poked through the ever-changing clouds, dramatically backlit by the setting sun.  Once I crested the pass, the view to the east was even better.  Bigger jags, more dramatic lighting, less haze.  By now the wind was gusting heavily and the 20F temperature had me running to keep warm, too lazy to throw on my warm jacket.  By dropping 800ft to Granite Pass I knew I would be a little better protected from the elements and in the company of good campsites.
The tarp is up, the sleeping bag is warm, the dinner is cold.  No rain today has me optimistic for the future.  Maybe these clouds will clear up and we can get some real sun out here to warm things up a little bit because right now it’s bitterly cold and exposed.  I can’t complain, though.  At least I’m dry.


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