I got a real trail name!!! Yes, I did have one on the Appalachian Trail, but only because I named myself. Talk about a cheater. Even though I got permission from another hiker who had named himself, I always felt a little guilty about it. Even so, KellBell really does feel like I part of me, so I feel conflicted about changing it. Can I have two names? Anish/Ghost does, and she is arguably the best hiker who ever lived. I say, why not? You can call me KellBell, or Shuffle–your choice.
But how perfect is Shuffle? Poncho said it fit not only because of my slow gait, but because of my old school iPod I always listen to when I get too tired and need a boost. She came up with my name on the next to the last day of our six day adventure together in the North Cascades last month. I got to name her too…the day I met her…which was the day we started our hike. Weird, right?
When seeing an invitation on a Facebook outdoor women’s group to join a fellow member on her PCT section hike, I gave it a click to see what was up. “Bramble” was open to all comers to help her complete all of section K, so I immediately messaged her that I was interested. Sometimes you need to be impulsive so you don’t overthink things and talk yourself out of a potentially good thing. Trying to fit in with strangers is terrifying to me, but I knew I shouldn’t pass on an opportunity to do this with others–even if those others might turn out to people I didn’t like, or who didn’t like me. Scary; but I kept my fingers crossed it would be worth it.
Thankfully Bramble was game for me joining up with her a little past the halfway mark. Ultimately she found someone who would start with her, and also someone who would come with me to do half–so the eventual foursome of strangers was set. Bramble, Ranger J, Poncho, and Shuffle…talk about a fantastic 4!
Well, wait…me? Maybe not so fantastic. This trip was such a painful reminder of how slow I am; in fact it was my inspiration for this new blog name! But this group of gals was totally understanding and accepting. They did their thing, and I did mine…my thing being about 2 hours slower than theirs. But it was all good, because at the end of the day, we all made it to the rendezvous spot just the same.
Even though I love solo hiking, it sure is nice to have a posse to hang with at the end of the day; especially when Stehekin is involved! All my fears about not getting along were completely unfounded. You know the saying, “No risk, no reward?” Meeting these great ladies was 100% worth the risk.
The rundown for this hike is described below, which I will be doing at the end of all my posts…but please understand this agenda is completely different than our original plan. Hiking never fails to be about being adaptable, so remember to always be ready to hike your own hike. Though the truth is, if slow poke Shuffle can do this trip, anybody can. Happy trails!
To read about when I did the first half, click here
6.5 miles to camp at a very nice site on Suiattle trail. The 23 mile forest road to the trailhead is a doozy, so consider your car/skills/ patience first. Not a difficult hike though, and so it makes recruiting a drop off team a little easier because it makes a great 1 night backpack for them. Side note: if you are meeting up with someone who is doing the PCT, be extra careful to explain that you are using the camp by the Suiattle bridge and NOT the camp by the PCT bridge only a mile away. I cannot believe there was confusion over this yet again (you’ll have to read that story about Section K’s first half to understand) but I kind of reign supreme when it comes to miscommunication.
11ish miles to “small stream in a meadow/camping nearby”. There is a sign directing you off trail to the site, and a privy is available, as there was at all the camps. Expect almost all upward momentum this day, but it’s not nearly as bad as I expected. Thus I was able to forgive the speedsters we were meeting for asking us to do 3 unexpected extra miles because they had reached our original meeting spot so much earlier than anticipated. It did make the next day much easier.
11.4 miles, mostly downhill, to Swamp Creek Camp. Very big area, right next to a big stream. My favorite camp spot of the trip.
8 miles to the Stehekin bus stop. If you are anything like me, the idea of catching a bus causes anxiety, but don’t worry. I promise it’s totally obvious where to wait for the shuttle, and the schedule gives several options for the day if you miss it. (Look up “Red Bus Schedule for Stehekin” to get up to date times and cost. $8 this year, and they expect you to have exact change.) SO FUN to meet the thru hikers if you are doing this late summer or early fall. And YES, the bus stops for about 15 minutes at the bakery so you can run in and get a treat. Have cash, it will make it easier. Camping is free in Stehekin, and everything besides the bakery is within easy walking distance. “Everything” being: Ranger Station: Where you have to get permits for your next camp spot…unless you can make it to Rainy Pass in one shot. Convenience Store/Restaurant: You’ll need to make your reservation in the store, but the food is excellent. Showers/Laundry: Expensive and probably not worth it unless you’re feeling extra nasty. Post Office: If you want to send a resupply, but you may find everything you need in the larger than usual hiker box. There is also a phone booth that is free, which is nice considering there is zero reception here, or anywhere on this trip.
11.2 miles to Sixmile Camp. Six Miles from where…nobody knows. But very nice camp, and large, which it has to be. I think I counted 13 tents that night. Sitting in the hiker “kitchen”, you’ll be entertained by all the thru hiker stories if you are lucky.
8.3 miles to Rainy Pass. FYI, expect rain…it earned its name for a reason. Easy miles–even so, it took me almost 5 hours. The rest of the fab four had been there and waiting in the rain for about 2 hours, so it really doesn’t pay to be fast if you are hiking with me. Again, no reception, so I hope you can arrange your pick up more accurately than we did. My husband made up for the 2 more hours of waiting by bringing us ice cold Coronas to celebrate. He’s the best.