Posted by: blinklove | September 20, 2010

Washington is just flat out Beautiful. All of it.

Lake Chelan and surrounding mountains where Stehekin hides

Can you imagine living in a town where visitors come in by boat, plane, or foot only; a place surrounded by glacier covered mountains and a crystal clear 55 mile-long lake? For about 60 to 100 people, that is home.

We were stunned by the remote beauty of Stehekin, WA. We hiked 89 miles the Canadian border to get there and, after being picked up by a super-nice guy named Michael, road the 10 miles in on the dead end road to Stehekin Landing. The town is buzzing in the summer with tourist who come in for weekends and day-trips on the ferry across Lake Chelan. In winter, the place is left to the locals who stick it out in 4-5 feet of snow and a cache of groceries from neighboring town Chelan. Everything there came in on a boat. It is just remarkable. For us North Carolinians, it is reminiscent of a much more rugged Bald Head Island. We loved riding rented bikes down the road to the famous Stehekin Pastry Shop and Heather even had the pleasure of playing a beautiful piano in the town’s schoolhouse (Schoolhouse! K-8 with 31 students total, I mean this place is old school). When the kids finish 8th grade they move away to the “city” where they live with friends or relatives to complete grade school. Stehekin was a great place and a reminder of how old-time simplicity can be so wonderful.

Though we didn't have the camera ready, this is about what we saw...

Oh, and….dah dah dah….Stehekin also graced us with the sighting of our first (then second) American black bears. They were both pretty small but they were absolutely gorgeous! (small being still well over 100 pounds)

About 98 trail miles later we are now in Leavenworth, WA. Leavenworth was once a dying railroad town but, after consulting community development advisors from Washington University, they decided to transform the town into a “Bavarian Alpine Village.” Now it appears as if you have suddenly landed in the Alps when you roll into town and it is busy with happy tourists.

Getting from the trail to town is always interesting and always illuminates the beauty of the fact that if you let it, life can be unpredictable and loads of fun every day you wake up.

We had gotten to the highway and spent about 45 minutes trying to catch a hitch into town when we decided to give up and head further down the road to a busier intersection. Just as we threw our packs on, here comes a car pulling over to the side of the road.

“Where are you headed?” the driver asks.

“Leavenworth.”

“Well I’m going to church in Plain (15 miles short of Leavenworth) but if you want to go to church with me, I’m headed to Leavenworth afterwards for lunch.”

“I’d love to go to church. Sure!” says Heather.

So, off we go with a stranger to Plain Community Church on Sunday morning still stinky and wet from 9 days on the trail. The church, lucky for us, is laid-back and no one seems to notice much our ragged appearance. Then, ten minutes into the service, the assistant pastor says “If we have any guests with us today, please stand and lets us know your names and where you come from.” We stand, Heather introduces us and explains “…we are hiking from Mexico to Canada and were just passing through…” That got a roar of laughs from the congregation and the assistant pastor said “Well that’s the understatement of the year.”

It was a nice service and we were tickled when at least four people came up to us after the service apologizing for having passed us on the highway only to see us again seated next to them in church. In an incredible act of generosity, one couple even met us in Leavenworth and bought us a delicious lunch in the company of Margaret (the woman who picked us up) and her husband and mother. Everyone was generous beyond the call of even a “good Christian” and it was clear they would take care of us no matter what we needed. We are proud to say we now have many good friends in the Leavenworth, WA area whenever we return in the future.

Leavenworth, WA

Now we must hike on! We really have to move through Washington. We knew already that the snow would be coming soon but the recent news that Washington’s maple leaves are changing colors a month earlier than the norm could be a sign of how things are headed. Isn’t that just fitting for this year’s weather pattern? No worries, though. We are still confident the weather will hold and we’ll do whatever we have to to complete our walk from Border to Border.

Thank you to everyone who has been following our adventure and to everyone who has donated to the cause.

Staying safe and warm and missing everyone,

Stephen and Heather

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Responses

  1. Beautiful picture and stories Heather and Stephen! Thanks for doing this and wish I was 20 years younger and could join you! 🙂

  2. This was a great read. Packing and the lack of predictable transportation beyond your feet, opens a world of surprises and makes life a heightened journey.

  3. Hello Heather and Steven

    I enjoyed the short visit that we had this afternoon. I’m the guy that took you back up to Coles Corner. It was really interesting hearing about what you two are doing, and I commend you for it. I’m passing the word on to others, and will support your organization. Keep me posted, and if you’re ever back in North Central Washington, let me know. Our family would be glad to help in any way we can.

    Cheers

    Bruce

  4. What a wonderful people experience, beautiful creqtion and pictures. Glad you both are doing well. Sent the package to the Country Store yesterday.


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