Day Nine: South Fork Agnes Creek to Five Mile Camp

Distance: 11 miles

The rain stopped and even the night was relatively dry. On the morning of Day Nine, the biggest problem was going to be the wet bushes along our hiking trail. I really didn't mind as long as the sun came out, which it did.

Today and tomorrow were going to be downhill, so we could eat up the miles with our light packs. We were following the flow of Agnes Creek as it headed toward the Stehekin River. After two miles, we rejoined the PCT at Hemlock camp and found the trail even easier than before. Wide, well graded and with lots of signs, we really felt we were back on the hikers "superhighway."

It was early afternoon when we hit our destination, Five Mile Camp, the last major campsite before the PCT meets the Stehekin River Road. The campsite was barren, over-used with plenty of old horse dung. Kevin suggested that we continue to hike and catch a later ferry from Stehekin, but Bob and I had to explain that there was only ONE ferry per day. With a 2 p.m. departure, we would never make it.

While Chuck and Kevin and I ate lunch and relaxed in the sunshine, Bob decided to look for a better campsite. His scouting skills were excellent once again. He followed a little-used trail to where it was supposed to cross the creek. A bridge had been washed out years ago, but he had a theory that there might be a campsite at the crossing. His theory proved to be correct, and by hiking a half mile away from the PCT, we found a piece of the wilderness all for ourselves.

Since the afternoon was still young, I spread out all my gear to dry off. We all four tried to take a bath in the cold waters of Agnes Creek--but it was so freezing that the best I could do was a sponge bath. I washed out my hiking shorts since tomorrow we'd be in "town" and ride the ferry. I didn't want to reek of body odor and campfire smoke if possible. I didn't have any other shorts to wear, but I was lucky. The sunshine dried out my nylon shorts before the afternoon turned into evening.

This was like a rest day for us. We lounged by the creek, reading our books or washing our clothes. The sunny weather had once again changed our mood for the better, and we started talking about where we might go next year.

In my journal, I wrote, "For this trip, it was probably too grueling. We needed a rest day but our schedules did not allow for it. Three river valleys and three high passes in three days were too much for our 50-year-old feet. All the same, it has been a stunning trip."

Day Ten

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Chuck, Tom and Bob rest next to an old bridge support on Agnes Creek.

Bob, Chuck and Kevin pose for a photo in front of the washed-out bridge support. The water was so cold that Chuck jumped out as soon as I snapped this shot.