Stehekin: Savoring the Last Zero Day

Total PCT miles 2651.3 – Stehekin Landing Resort

We’d planned to head out on the mid-morning shuttle up to High Bridge and back to the trail. Our packs were ready to go. We were ready to go. I’d eaten an adorable bunny pancake while talking with Nathan about wildlife field work, Alaska, nonprofits and the Oregon Coast. Gabriel had read his book in the lodge and gazed at the reflection of towering rocks in Lake Chelan.

It was a morning to soak up the last minutes of leisure before heading out for the last 90 miles to Canada. Sitting in the resort’s quiet, dry and warm community room, we were holding onto the last dry minutes before we’d inevitably be soaked.

Outside it was down pouring rain. Cats and dogs. Buckets. Drenching. Rain coming down so hard it bounced back up from the puddles to hit you again. Looking up, snow dusted the highest ridges and trees. Clouds engulfed the mountains. It was time for us go back to the trail and get our last dose of classic Washington PCT weather. And then we realized we didn’t have to hike at all today.

We’d arranged with my grandparents to be picked up at Manning Lodge on Friday, September 30.  If we got to Manning, as planned, on the 29th we’d be sitting in a hotel room having just finished the PCT and waiting for our ride. So why go out in the rain now, when we could stay in Stehekin for a day and get to Manning on Friday afternoon. Why wait there when we could stay here? Waiting and staying impose two different states of mind.

We checked the forecast again. 100% chance of rain today. Right on. Snow levels around 5000 feet. Gulp, it’ll be cold and wet tonight. Tomorrow: decreasing rain, some sun breaks. That sounds good. Forecast for Wednesday-Friday: dry and sun. SOLD! We were taking a zero day in Stehekin.

We said good bye to TopsyTurvy, DataMuffin, Euro Trash and LaFawnduh. I’d looked forward to finishing off the trail with these four fantastic and hilarious people, whom we hadn’t seen since the Bucks Lakes area 1,300 miles ago. They’d be awesome to finish with. And yet, Gabriel and I didn’t have to dictate our schedule based on that of others. It worked better for us to take a zero day. Who knew who would come into town while we took the day off? Seahorse and Chilidog? Free Range? Pepe Lopez and crew? They’d be good folks to hike with as well. It took us some 2,000 miles, but we’d learned to listen to our own rhythms and not hasten to those of others.

Now we sit in luxury of the community room of the Stehekin Landing Resort. Looking out at the drenching rain and taking comfort in our dry surroundings. Gabriel reads. I write. We’ll feast tonight on another colossal dinner with friends. For Seahorse and Chilidog, Mowgli and Shaker are now here. We’ll savor a day of nothing to do but rest, talk, be thru-hikers with no other care than what’s next on the trail.

Today feels more like the zero days we took back in the desert, when we had all the time in the world to make it to Canada. Stehekin is now one of our favorite trail stops.

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