I left my front door shortly after 3:00 A.M. Saturday morning to get a really early start on the weekend. We arrived at the boat dock in Chelan in plenty of time to catch the 8:30 sailing. The boat took us two thirds of the way up the lake and dropped us off at Prince Creek, where we proceeded to hike the final 17 miles to Stehekin.
We hadn’t gone more than a mile when a big long snake slithered out onto the trail in front of me. I tried not to scream like a schoolgirl, but I’m not sure I succeeded – it’s kind of a blur. Snakes really freak me out. It didn’t have a rattle though (another hiker later told us it was probably a King Snake).
Laurie bravely took the lead, on snake patrol, and I happily followed in her wake. A few miles later, she gasped, stopped short, and backed into me. At her feet, another snake squirmed off the trail. This one DID have a rattle! “Okay, that’s enough for me, Pete”, said Laurie, “It’s your turn for snake duty!” We marched on, a little paranoid. Curvy branches started looking like rattlesnakes to me, and I would occasionally come to a skidding stop. “What? What is it?” Laurie asked from behind. “Oh, sorry, it’s just a branch. Whew! Scared me.”
The GoLite Guy and The Ol’ Timers
As we went along, we kept leapfrogging a guy with a diminutive pack. Personally, I was pleased to have gotten my pack weight down to 40 lbs, but this guy’s pack was 12 lbs! He just had the bare essentials. No tent, no stove, and probably no water filter – folks just seemed to be drinking straight from the lake.
On the other end of the spectrum were the four “Ol’ Timers” that we met in Stehekin. They’d been doing this trip almost every year since the 1970′s. These guys took a leisurely 5 days to do the 17 miles, and hauled monster packs. One guy had a mandolin, and I could’ve sworn that another pulled an ice cream bar out of his pack! Coincidentally, some of them knew a few of Laurie’s relatives, so we had a fun time talking as we waited for the boat.
The boat ride back to Chelan took four hours, and the mandolin guy provided some entertainment for awhile. I finally stumbled back to my front door by 11:00 P.M. on Sunday, pretty much maxing out the available weekend hours.
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