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Archive for September 21st, 2006

Destination: Stehikin “The Ranch”
Starting Location: Creek below Suiattle Pass Today’s Miles: 18.80
Trip Miles: 2511.40
Below Suiattle Pass (2553.3, 5730) to Stehikin “The Ranch” (2574.1, 1600) ascent (2641) descent (6811)

The only way to make today colder than yesterday would be to add some really wet snow. So that is what happened. As I walked down the trail the slushy snow fell off the thick vegetation and filled my already soaked shoes. My feet stung so bad that each step felt like a million needles piercing my water logged feet. Walk faster to warm feet – walk faster and embrace the rain until they warm up.
I would not do it. At 3 a.m. my bladder was screaming and I determined I could not wait until 6 a.m. At 3:30 I determined I could not leave my tent without losing all of my hard earned warmth. Only one solution – and I darn sure do not need two water bottles in this weather.
Unbelievable as we got near the trailhead we had finally reached the rain shadow. I knew we were getting into a much drier climate as I noticed beetle damaged trees (the beetles impact trees most significantly that are drought stressed and can not produce pitch / sap to flush out the bugs). Anyway, sun for the first time in 8 days and in one hour before the Stehikin bus arrived we got almost all of our gear dry.
Arrived at The Ranch by late afternoon. Thunder asked if they could put lunch out again and they did. We showered and now we are sitting in front of a big wood fire, drinking hot drinks, & waiting for dinner. We have a tent cabin (wood side, canvas roof) with a kerosene lantern. This place is perfect & has a wonderful backcountry feel. Out the window I am looking over a lovely pasture with grazing horses backlit by fall colors & evergreens.
Oh my god – Kristi – our fellow guest at The Ranch must have heard my comment that the only thing that could make The Ranch better would be a massage. While eating pie she started with Thunder, then worked on my back, & finished with Andy. This was absolutely a trail highlight and we now have restored blood flow to our sore backs. Seriously Kristi is a magician with the strongest thumbs imaginable & each of us let out a serious yell / moan or two. Thunder caught a photo of me & commented that I now know you have gold crowns.
The bakery in Stehikin is renowned as the best on trail & potentially best period. I had a slice of walnut pie, a sour cream pear pie, & strawberry rhubarb pie. Each with heavy whipping cream. The jury is in – best bakery period!
Dr Jones: “Heavy snow year, terrible fire year, early winter in the Pacific Northwest – 2006 thru-hikers rock!”

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