Pacific Crest Trail (2018) 106: Combork

Friday, September 14, 2018 – 16.80 miles

My first priority this morning was buying new batteries for my headlamp. The store opens at 8:00 AM and the shuttle bus leaves only fifteen minutes later, so I started hovering at the store doors at 7:45 AM. When they let me in and I asked an employee about batteries, she said they only had one package of two batteries in stock – crushing information since my headlamp requires three. She suggested that I try the hiker box since hikers had been buying four when they only needed three.

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Morning in Stehekin

I ran down the road to the hiker box. No luck, but Buffalo and her family were at the store when I returned, and when I told them about the batteries, her brother Bryan immediately offered me the three I needed. Such a lovely family!

The shuttle stopped at the bakery on the way to the trailhead. I sat on the bus while everyone else went inside. TAKE THAT, BAKERY. The next sixteen miles of the PCT cut through North Cascades National Park and camping is only allowed at designated campsites that must be booked in advance. North Fork Camp was the most scenic of the campsites, so I would recommend it to anyone wanting to camp inside the park. I was too wary because eTrails says ‘bears and other critters frequent these heavily used camps in the national park’.

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As I was hurrying to cross the boundary before nightfall, I glanced to my right and saw a momma bear and two cubs five or six metres down the slope, looking up at me with their identical little cinnamon faces. I should have just kept walking forwards since I was already alongside them, but instead I instinctively retreated a short distance and was stuck. A hiker had told me earlier that he shouts ‘bad dog!’ at bears and I found that easy to shout, so I did so and struck my poles together. Eventually I saw the mother bear cross the trail up ahead, but not the cinnababies, which made me worry that she wanted to keep an eye on me. I retreated a long way off this time and decided to wait half an hour for them to leave.

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After ten minutes, a thru-hiker showed up. I requested that he help me scare off the bears and positioned him in the lead (just TRY to run past me on this single-track trail). The bears were gone when we reached the place where they had been grazing, but I heard suspicious rustling in the bushes, so they might not have gone far.

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The thru-hiker was much faster of course and sped on ahead. There was rain in the afternoon, but it had stopped by the time I reached the edge of the national park. I checked out what eTrails calls Bridge Creek North Camp, which was overused and gross, then continued on to Prospect Camp, which also had toilet paper strewn around but less. While I was preparing to cook supper, I discovered that I had left my spork in Stehekin.

What did I have as a replacement? A comb. I’ve only used a comb once on the trail, during the licey-feeling incident on the AZT, and I really shouldn’t be carrying one for use solely on zeros, but I guess this makes usage #2. It wasn’t so bad other than an initial shampoo taste and the impossibility of cleaning between the prongs. I ate supper with another hiker who showed up, Woody, and was glad to retreat to my sleeping bag in the dropping temperatures.

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