Katherine helped us skip a bit of road walking to get to the trail head. She and Jared were going to take the day to see some sites (and have some time together without us.) Our path today was nicely graded and smooth, and slightly down, so we were able to make good time. In a few spots it opened to where there might have been a view, but the smoke from Canada got in the way.
We were making good time, and, after checking the weather, decided that the sooner we got to town the better, as it was already blazing and just going to get worse. We decided to forgo a lunch stop and survive on snacks to get us there ASAP.
We arrived at the trail head in early afternoon. It was strange feeling, as this would be the end of our PNT adventure for this summer, to be continued later. The sun blazed while we were waiting for Katherine and Jared to pick us up (gosh, we were so lucky). Behind a tall fence ringed with barbed wire, an apple orchard had sprinklers misting the trees, but it fell just short of the fence-line. The sign itself provided a sliver of shade, and this is where I hid.
Our saviors rolled in a short while later and whisked us into town. After some Mexican food in a frigid restaurant, we grabbed a site at a campground by the lake, set up our village of tiny tents, and then headed to the beach. An afternoon of lounging was followed by an evening of strategizing our journey to Bellingham (where we would meet up with a friend).
The next morning I slept in, until 6am. I went on a mission for some coffee and baked goods, only to find that nothing is open in Oroville at 6am on a weekday. At least not the gas station, grocery store, or coffee shop that were within close walking distance. It was a beautiful morning to walk at least, before the sun was up enough to bake us.
We packed up and started our journey around 8:30. Katherine, again, was exceedingly helpful, as she got us the first leg of our journey, down to a point where 20 split off from 97, in the town of Okanogan, WA.
Our new friends that helped us continue our journey were:
Brandon, past PCT hiker and veteran, who doubled back after running errands in town. We had waited about 45 minutes and seen lots of scowls on faces, so we were exceptionally glad to get picked up by this jolly fellow! We went quite a bit out of his way and brought us to Twisp.
A woman who was due to give birth that very day. “Get outta my belly baby!” was her general mentality, but we were glad that Baby decided to stay in while she helped us out. She brought us to Winthrop.
In a stroke of good luck, we were picked up by Kevin, who brought us all the way through the Cascades to Marblemount. Not only was this our longest ride, but Kevin was also a fascinating character, an artisan who was interested in traditional homes. In addition to building and living in a yurt and other various shelters, he was now working on a documentary of the nomadic reindeer herders of Siberia. A link to his project here: https://www.nomadictentsfilmproject.org/
He left us at a gas station, and we took a break to eat some lunch. Our next ride came by a woman and her daughter who were headed to Burlington for the food coop and a Bible study. The AC was broken, so the windows were down and it was too loud for much conversation. They blessed us as they dropped us at another gas station near Interstate 5, which would take us north to Bellingham.
It wasn’t more than a minute when we got snagged by our last ride, so quick that we almost missed her as she sat there honking away. We hobbled as quickly as we could to hop in with her, a hilarious woman covered in tattoos, who was thrilled to not have her kids with. She spent the 30 minutes or so of the drive telling us all about her three kids before dropping us at a park-n-ride in Bellingham. We had made it!
It was about a two mile walk to where we would meet our friend in Bellingham. It seemed surreal that we had made it so far in such a short amount of time – the universe did indeed provide. As we wrapped up this leg of our journey, I was humbled by the kindness and generosity that we were met with all along the way. I look forward to the continuation of our journey this coming July and August!