9/7/17 – Beat the Bus
Miles: 2,554.56 to 2,569.42
Total miles hiked: 1,928.38
The days are getting shorter as fall approaches. We were up at 5:00 and again we started walking in darkness. I followed the trail illuminated by my headlamp as fast as I could but our speed was greatly hindered by the lack of daylight.
It was another smoke filled day and we saw little of the landscape except for our immediate surroundings.
The forest started to thin as we continued towards the valley. It got its typical eastern Washington feel, drier and dusty, just the typical sun was amiss.
To get to Steheiken one has to take a 11 mile long bus ride. There are four daily buses that run from the town to High Bridge where the trail intersects with the road. Pushing couple extra miles last night meant we comfortably could catch the 3:00 pm bus. And we we pushed today… we’ll we never hiked 15 miles before lunch before but if we pushed really hard we had a slim chance of even catching the bus at 12:30 pm.
So we pushed. The trail was mostly downhill with multiple local ups, they added to 1,100 feet together but on their own they were short and we could push through them. By the time second break rolled in, we were 5:15 miles from the bus stop with 2 hours left to cover the distance. We quickly ate and hydrated and off it was to finish the race. I jogged the final switchbacks down to the river. From there we had 10 minutes and 0.28 miles left. I could see the red bus waiting at the stop, I could see the hikers around it… and then trail threw the last uphill in my way.
I was quite out of breath when I reached the top at the intersection with the road. I made it. I was at the bus four minutes before it’s departure. Dave made it three minutes after me. Yay. We were on the earlier bus!
In Steheiken we reconnected with Andrea and Jon. They got a scoop on the fire near Canadian border. It grew lately in the direction on the PCT. And the current wind was blowing it even closer. That wasn’t a good news. It would be devastating to make it so far and not being able to have our monument moment but safety comes first.
We will check with the rangers tomorrow and decide how to go about the last 80 miles to the border. Keep your fingers crossed for us.
Great cloud photo.