Day One--Stevens Pass to Janus Lake

Distance: 9.5 miles

The logistics for this trip were complicated. We wanted to start at Stevens Pass and end at Stehekin, which is a small village at the north end of Lake Chelan. While Stehekin is beautiful, it is isolated. There are no roads to the village. Instead, you must hike, fly or take a ferry to the mountain hamlet. This meant that we needed to leave a car at the ferry terminal near the south end of Lake Chelan for 10 days.

Our solution was to take two cars on Day One to Stevens Pass, which meant we needed a spare "taxi driver." Chuck's marvelous wife Beth volunteered to be the spare driver. So on this Sunday morning, she drove one car to the pass and I drove another. Then three of us--Chuck, Kevin and Tom--got out and started hiking, while Bob drove one car and Beth drove the other to the ferry terminal on Lake Chelan--about a 1 1/2 hour drive one-way. They left one car there and then headed back toward the pass. Near the pass there is a trailhead with a quick shortcut to the PCT. Bob would only have to hike three miles to the lake, while the rest of the hikers took the full, eight-mile route to the same lake.

The Gang of Four: Left to right, Chuck, Kevin, Tom and Bob at Stevens Pass. Note that Bob isn't wearing his backpack since he has to get back in the car and drive to Lake Chelan.

Chuck, Kevin and I took off on a sunny morning with a heavy load. All of us had worried about hiking 10 days without a resupply, so we were carrying a lot of food. Chuck's packed weighed about 40 pounds while mine weighed 41 pounds the night before I left. I was hoping for 40, so I wasn't too upset with being just one pound over my goal.

The Pacific Crest Trail north of Stevens Pass follows the bed of an old railroad line for the first three miles. This means that we were actually going downhill with the heaviest packs of the trip on a gentle grade. It was a great way to warm up for the 10-day trek. By noon we had hiked five miles to Lake Valhalla, a popular day hike for Seattle-area hikers. It was a gem of a mountain lake with a wall of rock on one side--but too popular for my tastes. After a quick lunch, we headed over the Union Gap pass and on to Lake Janus, our destination.

We got to the lake relatively early, but I still thought Bob might beat us to the spot. Instead, no sign of our fellow hiker in any of the campsites. We took our time choosing the best one and then settled down for the wait. Bob not only had that night's dinner, he also had part of my tent in his pack. If he didn't show up, it was going to be a hungry, cold night for the rest of us.

I can't say I was anxious, but I was confused. Why it was taking Bob so long to show up? I went back to the main trial and drew arrows in the dirt to show where our campsite was located. I looked at Chuck and Kevin's tent, wondering how three people could fit into it. But finally Bob walked into our campsite--and told us a tale on why he was late. It turns out that Beth was supposed to follow Bob to the ferry terminal, but she got confused on the main highway and followed the wrong blue car. When Bob made the turnoff to the terminal, she kept going all the way to the next city--Chelan. The people that she was folllowing got rather scared and wouldn't even talk to Beth when they finally parked their car and she came up to talk about her mistake. Did they really think a 5-foot-4 magazine editor was a carjacker?

Despite the confusion, Beth eventually found her way to the ferry terminal, where Bob was waiting, and the right connections were made at last. It did provide us with a chuckle or two that night, as we dined on Bob's meal of pasta with smoked salmon.

Day Two
Day Three
Day Four
Day Five
Day Six
Day Seven
Day Eight
Day Nine
Day Ten

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