July 14 (~08:00 – ~10:25 / ~14:40 – ~19:30)
Hideaway Camp – before Methow Pass (15.6 mi / Total: 2601.4 mi)
Total PCT miles: 1501.4
Weather: Sunny and warm, windy and chilly at higher elevation.
Today is a little bit like a repeat of yesterday. I only have some 5 miles to walk through the forest, and then I can hitch into town again. This time I’m headed for Mazama. I heard there’s a nice general store, with more of a healthy vibe to it, so I decided to do my last resupply here.
The morning through the forest moves quickly, although there are a few log crossings that require some caution. I see no bears, and just one deer and a loud squirrel that jumps around like a small child. When I reach the road I have a feeling it’s not going to be an easy hitch, and I wish I had fully resupplied in Stehekin yesterday. The road is quite busy but all the cars are going in the opposite direction, towards Seattle, and the few going towards Mazama and Winthrop aren’t stopping. It takes perhaps forty minutes for someone to stop, but it’s a surprisingly good one: a man in a Porsche Carrera.
People in fancy cars never pick up hitchhikers, so it must be my lucky day. The man is called Joe, and he tells me he hasn’t picked up a hitcher in twenty years, but he saw my pack and realised I was hiking the PCT, so he decided to stop. He cruises down the incredibly scenic road, through all the splendid mountains I haven’t even seen during my hike, and takes me to Mazama, the smallest town in the world.
The general store is amazing. It’s like a delicatessen store, with all sorts of fancy and healthy stuff for sale. I take some time to pick up a collection things: jam, cereal, some carrots and snacks. I add a coffee and sit down at one of the tables inside. I have a few things to check on my phone but I realise I have no service here. I wasn’t expecting that. There’s no WiFi either so I can’t do any of the things I intended to – download maps for Vancouver, research transport options out of Manning Park, upload some blogs. It makes life a little simpler, although now I’m not quite prepared for crossing the border. When I finish my drink and repackage my resupply I pop into the gear shop behind the general store for a little, and manage to tap into the WiFi from the hotel behind. It’s not strong enough for any research, but I send a few messages, and then I’m on my way again.
The hitch back is a lot easier. Before I’ve even walked back to the main road, I’ve got a few people willing to help, and Beth and Ben end up being the ones going in the right direction to take me back to the trail. They’ve just climbed a mountain, their car is full of gear, and Ben leaves me his card in case I need a ride again. Once I’m back at the trailhead a few other hikers are trying to hitch into town – and struggling. Mazama doesn’t seem to be the easiest place to get to.
I pass through to the parking lot and I’m happy to be back on trail. Another successful hitch in and out of town, without having to stay overnight. But then, all at once, it dawns on me – I didn’t buy enough food. Wait. What? How did this happen? I went into Stehekin and Mazama specifically to buy food for the final stretch to Canada, and now I realise I didn’t get enough. I have the loaf of bread from Stekehin, and I just bought more toppings and snacks, but that won’t be enough. I came to Mazama because I’d heard their bakery goods were so good. I was supposed to buy more bread or pastries, but I didn’t. Somehow while I was there I thought the bread I already had was enough, but I could eat that entire thing in one afternoon. I can’t believe I didn’t buy enough food, again.
It’s too late now, so all I can do is be careful to ration what I do have and continue my way to Canada. It’s not far, three or four days, and I’m curious as to what the views will be offering. Then I begin that typical Washington long way up the mountain, continuing that climb that started yesterday, up to almost 7000 ft.
I’m not the only person here. The views open up and trail runners begin to pass me, hurrying up and down towards Cutthroat Pass. The weather is perfect for it, sunny and warm, making all the colours bright. When I reach the other side of the pass the views are so different, the mountains are rocky, the soil a reddish brown, and it reminds me of the desert, dry and arid.
The trail continues to climb just a little higher, turning around different corners, until it starts a steep but short section down – rocky, withsmall switchbacks towards Granite Pass, where I find the girl from Stehekin camped, overlooking the valley below. I chat with her for a little while. She’s tired and planning to take it easy until the border. I’ve decided to push a little more, but not today. Today I’m going to keep it relaxed, and I’m okay with a short day.
I continue to hike just a few more miles towards Methow Pass, but don’t make it all the way. I follow the long sidle across the mountain, the views as big as the surrounding mountains, pick up some stream water along the way and join a bigger tentsite where some others are set up already. They are all southbounders, and after a quick chat with two of them I find a spot a little away, and dive into my tent. I have views onto the crest behind, and settle in for one of the coldest nights on trail.