I’d initially planned to hike from Stehekin to Holden Village in September. My plans for that hike are what drove my other hikes this summer: I wanted to be ready for this hike so that I would enjoy it. The hike is about twenty-seven miles, with a long, slow climb for about eighteen miles followed by a shorter downhill back to Holden. But after hiking thirty-two miles over a weekend, the twenty-seven mile hike seemed too short. I’d already mapped out Chinook Pass to Stampede Pass, and that seemed like a better option.
But why do a 48-mile hike over an entire week? I could leave from Chinook Pass on a Sunday; that would allow me to skip sharing the trails with a lot of dayhikers and weekenders. I’d initially planned to do this hike from Stampede Pass to Chinook Pass, but if I have to wait a day or two for my ride – The Hubs – it’d be better to end at Stampede Pass where there’s cell coverage. It also gives me the option of hiking down to Lake Easton State Park to pass the time. (I’ve also considered leaving the truck at Stampede Pass; that bit of logistics depends upon The Hub’s availability, though.)
A few nights ago, as I was trying to drift off to sleep, this thought occurred to me: Why not hike from Stevens Pass to Snoqualmie? Why do I have to have these thoughts as I’m trying to fall asleep? Logistically, it makes the most sense. I’ll already be in Leavenworth, so I’m a short drive to the trailhead. I’ll need to have all my gear packed when I leave for Leavenworth that Wednesday morning, but I can accomplish that. I’d rather hike the PCT southbound than northbound (if I’m headed northbound, all the PCT nobos will pass me; the sobos are already through this area).
The downside? It’s almost eighty miles, significantly more than I’d planned. I’m confident I can cover that distance in 7-8 days. The WTA’s description shows 16,000 of elevation gain & loss. I know from previous hikes in this area that there are some long, steep climbs & descents; even so, I believe I’ll be fine. It appears that there will be sections where I’ll have to carry extra water (but probably not more than the forty-eight ounces my Nalgene Cantene carries). And because the Guthook PCT app lists tent sites, not hammock sites, it may be difficult to plan where I’m going to camp ahead of time.
The advantages? As mentioned about, I’ll be southbound. I hope to get to a campsite 5-8 miles from the trailhead on Friday; with luck, that’ll put me ahead of the weekenders. The biggest advantage is that I’ll end my hike at Snoqualmie Pass, where there is a hotel, groceries, and restaurants. I may have to wait a day or so for The Hubs to come get me. I may treat myself to a night in a hotel, or I may camp in the Commonwealth Basin. Either way, there’s more to do while I’m waiting.
Ultimately, the decision may be made for me by wildfires. I need to stay somewhat flexible. It’s likely I’ll have to go to Leavenworth prepared to do the longer hike. And that means I need to have everything ready to go earlier. I really need to get crackin’ on drafting a menu for the week — it’s one thing to ‘wing’ a three day hike; winging an eight day hike is bound to make me miserable, and I don’t want a repeat of food misery. I made a batch of pasta last night, cooked it this morning, and it’s currently drying in the dehydrator. I’m stopping at the library on my way home to pick up a book on backcountry meals. I need to have better snacks than I did last time, too.
I have one more overnight hike this month. It’s going to be a stretch, as I may only have a few hours to hike on the first day, followed by a long hike the next day. I think that’ll be a good test for my overall fitness. I’ll keep hoping for good weather and no more wildfires.