Our next morning brought us into the town of Republic, Washington. After an excellent second breakfast at the local café, we made our way to the trail-angle house of Artie and Mike McRae. Here, in their lush, green, grass we found the other guys (they’re faster than us) lounging and fixing up their gear. One I described as “looking at his pack like it’s breaking up with him” as he worked to piece it back together.
After a lazy afternoon, we found that, not only did we get to sleep on their lush grass, wash our laundry, and take showers (complete with towels and soap AND shampoo AND conditioner) but they also had food for us to BBQ! It truly was magical. We got the news that there was another hiker, “Left Foot,” trying to join us, but he was stuck up at the pass, and he hadn’t been able to find a ride for the last few hours. Jen, Katherine, and I hopped in a car on a rescue mission. As much as we love the guys, it certainly was nice to have some girl-time!
We collected Left Foot (it was nice to be the picker-upper rather than the ride-seeker) and learned that he and Katherine had met on the PCT a couple years before. What a small, magical world!
A lazy evening brought us into a lazy town day in Republic, with highlights being cooking a giant breakfast, laying in the grass, and then an evening of a raucous game of catchphrase with our hosts. I know I mentioned it before, but this stop was so restful, and I am incredibly grateful to have met such wonderful people.
Leaving the comfort of the McRae’s was a necessary evil. Luckily, as Katherine was going to meet us at our next campsite by Bonaparte Lake, she took the majority of our food in her car, so our packs were considerably lighter.
While filling up waters at a little creek by the side of the road, Nick turned to Jared and said with all seriousness,
“You know, you’re really good at walking.”
Jared looked at him in disbelief, “What?”
“I just wouldn’t have expected you to be so good at it.”
We all shared a chuckle.
After a hot, dusty day, we found Katherine and Bonaparte Lake! A cool dip and some chips and salsa was a nice way to end the day.
Leaving Bonaparte Lake we hiked up to one of the few fire towers that was staffed, and talked with Joel, the keeper. By then there was enough fires in the area that it was smoky in all directions, but the description of the view was incredible. It seemed a legit summer gig, except when he described what he did if a lightning storm came through. He had a wooden chair with glass insulated nobs on the feet, and a matching stool. If there was lightning, he just had to sit on the chair with his feet on the stool and hope for the best!
At the other end of the trail today, Katherine met us with watermelon and beer. She truly is a wonderful human. We made our way into the tiny Havilah (named after the Biblical land of gold).
Town, as far as we could tell, consisted of this church and two houses. We made ourselves right at home at the little country church that hosted hikers, as directed by a welcoming sign. As we were lounging in the coolness of their community room/kitchen area, Casey, the neighbor, popped in to invite us to dinner and cider.
We aren’t ones to turn down food, drink, and good company. We wandered over a short while later and were met with fantastic pulled pork, salad, and home-made cider. Casey had a dog, Uffda, whose antics entertained us as Nick helped shred a giant carrot for some slaw.
Oh man, was this food and drink good. Turns out, our new friend Casey runs his own catering/hard cider business. If you’re in the area, I’d highly recommend you look him up!
Then, Cowboy Chong and his nephew, folks that Jared knew from the PCT who lived in the area showed up with a giant pot of spaghetti. So much food!
The food was only the start of this joyful evening – I don’t have much for pictures because my phone stayed in my pack, back at the church. Casey is an incredible human, and we were having a jolly time even before Birdie showed up.
Birdie. It’s hard to even describe this character of a woman. She stopped by to see if Casey’s phone was down too, and then stayed for the fun. She told one crazy story after another, each one more ridiculous than the last. Then, she noticed that Jared’s foot was taped, and she decided she had to ‘work on it.’
Before he knew it, Jared had Birdie at one foot and Katherine at the other, with the rest of us looking on in stitches. Then she decided that Nick needed some healing too and took him to the yard. I highly recommend reading Jared’s account of this whole ordeal here: Republic to Oroville
With good food, good drink, and lots of side-splitting laughter, we found ourselves awake past sundown – a rare occurrence. As the stars came out, we settled into our tents in the yard, bellies and hearts full. Land of gold indeed!
Thanks PNTA for the use of the map graphic!