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PCT 2019: Day 61, Rainy Pass to North Fork Campsite

Is there always gonna be one more bridge to cross?

Hike with Gravity

There was surprisingly little snoring last night in the hostel bunk room. Or put more accurately, I heard surprisingly little snoring. I cannot confirm nor deny I snored.

The room was too warm, though, so I didn’t sleep well. I was feeling groggy when I got up at 6 a.m. and moved slowly as I prepared to leave.

Weather Partly sunny with a light breeze, high temperature in the upper 60s
Trail Conditions Steady and smooth descent until last mile, then steep with many switchbacks
Today's Miles 11.7 miles
Trip Miles 809.4 miles

Ralph, Fluffy Bunny, and I walked to a coffee shop for breakfast. The walk and the coffee helped to wake me up.

After returning to the hostel, we checked to see if anyone else needed a ride to the trailhead. A hiker named Remy said she was ready, so she joined us for the 40-minute drive to the trailhead at Rainy Pass.

After arriving there, Ralph and I said goodbye to the women. We figured they were much faster hikers than us and we were unlikely to see them again.

We then walked across Washington Highway 20 and resumed hiking the trail on the other side.

The trail started with a modest descent and remained that way for most of the day.

Within 15 minutes we reached the first of several bridges we would cross today. The first one crossed an inlet to Rainy Lake. After that, the trail crossed and followed a creek for the next 12.5 miles. Appropriately, the creek was named Bridge Creek.

Just before reaching the next bridge, we met Loren “Yurtman” Schmidt and Joan “Bump” Napolitano. They completed a thru-hike of the PCT in 2010 and have been long-time volunteers, mostly through a Pacific Crest Trail Association trail maintenance group called North 350 Blades.

We talked to Yurtman and Bump for several minutes. They told us about two major projects they helped to complete. One was to replace the northern terminus monument last year.

An article in the PCTA’s Communicator magazine about the new monument mentions that Yurtman is a retired shipbuilder and his skills came in handy for this work.

The other project was many years in the making. One of the bridges over Bridge Creek had been severely damaged by rot and heavy snow load. The Forest Service didn’t have the funds to replace the bridge, so hikers were required to make a difficult crossing over a nearby dead tree. Horse riders had no way to cross the creek here.

Once a plan to replace the bridge was created, some of the work was so technical that it required construction engineers. Eventually, the old bridge was removed and log trestles were positioned to span the creek, then volunteers completed the tasks of the bridge’s construction.

Yurtman and Bump told us they had just been to the bridge to check it out. Though it was now completed enough to safely cross the creek, rails were not yet installed. Those were being built on their farm and would be added soon.

Ralph and I thanked Yurtman and Bump for their dedication to the trail, then continued our walk.

We soon came to the next bridge, which was fashioned from a large log. After being placed over the creek, however, the log had become tilted at a tricky angle. Extra concentration and balance were required to walk over it.

About 20 minutes later, we came upon the new bridge Yurtman and Bump had told us about.

Not every stream crossing was over a bridge, but we found they were so shallow we barely got our feet wet.

Because the trail was downhill, we made good time hiking toward our campsite. That was good for us today, but tomorrow when Ralph returns to Rainy Pass and I continue south, he will have to climb up this same section.

As usual, there were wildflowers along the trail. They were especially showy in the bright sun.

Fireweed was one wildflower I had not seen much of until today. It gets its name because it is often one of the first plants to grow after a forest fire.

A notable example of that was after Mt. St. Helens erupted in 1980. Fireweed sprouted just one month after the eruption.

In a few sections of the trail, Bridge Creek dropped faster than the trail. We sometimes saw the creek below us, and eventually the trail descended to meet it again.

After our lunch stop, the trail became overgrown in a few sections. Hiking here wasn’t as annoying as the overgrown section that caused me to stumble and twist my ankle a couple days ago.

We also had the bonus of being surrounded by leafybract aster wildflowers.

We didn’t see a lot of long-distance views on this section because the path along the creek was usually deep in a valley. Every now and then, though, a view would open to expose more of the valley and mountains surrounding it.

We crossed another bridge at 3:15 p.m. This one was a rickety suspension bridge crossing Maple Creek, which fed into Bridge Creek.

Remy had stopped here to filter water. She told us she was having foot pain because of blisters. She didn’t want us to wait for her, but agreed to camp with us.

After talking for a few minutes, Ralph and I continued on.

A short time later, a couple passed me. They were in a hurry because they were trying to catch the last bus into Stehekin. The pickup point for the bus was 10 miles away and the last bus would depart at 6:15 p.m.

I didn’t think they could make it in time, but just said with an optimistic shrug of my shoulders, “Best of luck!”

The trail made a steep descent with switchbacks to the junction of a side trail leading to our campsite. We arrived at the campsite at 4:15 p.m. Remy arrived about 15 minutes later.

Later, I walked back to the junction with the PCT. A bridge over Bridge Creek was located there, but this was one I wouldn’t be crossing until tomorrow. Instead, I went underneath the bridge to collect and filter water.

While I was there, I saw the couple who was hurrying to catch the Stehekin bus. They admitted when they reached the bridge they realized there wasn’t enough time to make it. I offered them a spot in our campsite, but they declined, saying they wanted to get closer to the bus stop for the first bus in the morning.

I wasn’t sure how they were going to do that and camp legally in the national park, but again, I wished them well.

Is there always gonna be one more bridge to cross?
Is there always gonna be one more bridge to cross?

Just like the wind finds a resting place
Somewhere in the bosom of the land
Sowing his rich by the hands of the wise
And peace should come to every man
Just when he thinks he can lay down and roll
He's seen the place he's looking for coming up the road

Oh, is there always gonna be one more bridge to cross?
Always one more bridge
Is there always gonna be one more bridge to cross?


"Nothing to tell now. Let the words be yours, I'm done with mine." ref.