Stevens Pass to Stehekin On The PCT
07/14/13 - 07/22/13
Seattle Amtrak Station
Our ninth and last day is purely transport home, with some transport also on the first and last days. For the other days, we’ll shoot for 13 – 14 miles per day, and with perhaps an average of 2000 feet of elevation gain per day. We’ll figure out our campsites on the fly for this one. There could be some snow encountered en route, particularly around Red Pass and Fire Creek Pass; if so, we could end up doing some traversing above or below to handle that in a safe manner. A mid-July start could give us wonderful wildflowers, but could also mean significant bug activity along the way, so be prepared to handle that (suggestion: long sleeves and pants, headnet).
We will take a bus to get to Steven’s Pass, and take a combination of buses, ferry, and possibly train to get back home at the end, so a bit of adventure just in the logistics. The logistics of getting back home are particularly complicated.
Tentatively we’ll hike a few miles on day 8 and then catch the 12:30 bus from High Bridge camp to Stehekin, hang out there a bit, and then take the 6 pm ferry to stay in a motel in Chelan, or ideally we’ll the last bus out to stay in Wenatchee. Then we’ll take the 5:35 am train to Seattle the next day if tickets can be obtained and we can get to that station in time (otherwise it’s a bus ride). Do not sign up for this trip if you don’t have some flexibility in getting back home at the end (to include funds for bus, ferry, train, motel, and last-day meals). No one can be certain of a timetable for 8 days of hiking!
Recognize also that packs will be pretty heavy starting out with 8 days of food. Water, however, should be pretty available for the most part, though there is a stretch or two where we’ll have to carry a bit more depending on exactly how we hit things.
In the past, parts of this stretch were challenging due to a loss of several bridges in 2003, but they’ve all been replaced. There might be some minor water crossings to deal with, but nothing major now.
If you’re uncomfortable encountering any snow at all on trail, this trip might not be for you. I expect a relatively early snow melt this year, but still, in a normal year there’s at least some snow on the higher passes until mid-August. It’s also possible that the trip will be cancelled relatively late if the Forest Service has information to suggest that there might still be too much snow for prudent passage. If that happens, an attempt will be made to set up an alternate trip, but no guarantees on that.
On the other hand, this is a great stretch, one that I’ve been looking forward to seeing for a second time. Snowy mountains, rushing streams, gorgeous flowery meadows, and relatively unpopulated trail. This is some of the best in wilderness experiences, and over a long enough stretch that you can really put the “normal world” behind you and immerse in nature.
You are definitely expected to have your own color maps; as always for B3 trips, it’s suggested that you might print your own if you have access to a color printer. For this route, I suggest using Halfmile’s free map data , and in particular the “Washington Section K Map” set on that page.
Leader permission is required on this trip; it’s not for beginners, you should be in decent physical condition, and you will do best if you don’t have too heavy a load of gear on your back in addition to the starting food load.
Meeting Time & Place: Seattle Amtrak station. We’ll take the 8:50 am Trailways bus leaving from there, and YOU must call to make your own reservation. This isn’t actually required, but suggested; call 1-800-366-6975 to do so. The name of the stop is just “Stevens Pass”, arriving at 11:30 am (July 14th). Tell them you’ll have a largish backpack with you.
More details about gear requirements and assistance with food planning and packing will be included in leader emails and discussions prior to the trip. The trip may be cancelled or the destination changed if weather looks to be very inclement or lingering snow conditions are problematic.