Porcupine Creek to Stehekin Valley Ranch

Psychic Magnetism

For a lot of the days on trail, it feels like people and places are coming to and finding you. We have no idea what home looks like until we arrive. Homewandering is one of my favorite parts of long-distance hiking. It’s exciting to see where you’re living for the night, to see who and what will be living around you.

Our original plan for Wednesday night was to hike 21 miles before 5pm and hop onto the day’s last bus ride into Stehekin. It wasn’t until our lunchtime break that comments in the FarOut app alerted us to the fact that Stehekin showers and laundry close at 6pm. If we couldn’t shower and do laundry before wandering into one of the nearby campgrounds, why make the effort to get on the last bus?

The logic for why not to go into Stehekin on that night was sound, but it was difficult for me to accept. We were 13 miles in and so close to civilization. Even though we were no longer in a rush, my pace intensified to near warp speeds for another 3 miles. Frustration over the change in plans built inside my brain… until I saw the sign – Bridge Creek Campground.

Bridge Creek Camp

Did I find Bridge Creek or did Bridge Creek find me? A perfectly maintained official PCT campground in the Cascades National Park with a cold creek running down the middle and two pristine outhouses on each side of the creek? Yes, please. Every irrational feeling weighing me down had melted away in a sudden irrevocable act of homewandering. Why would I ever want an extra night in civilization when something as cool as this had found me? Not only am I a hiking flipflopper, but it also applies to my emotions.

Getting to camp early and relaxing the evening away can be difficult for me. As at work or wrestling practice, it’s hard to leave available time and effort on the table. To help train my patience on this night, we waded into the cold water of the ankle-deep creek, soaked and rinsed our feet. An early dinner was followed by a short evening thunderstorm. With a Stehekin town day tomorrow and an extra dinner in our bags, the last thing we did before calling it a night was 2nd dinner. Patience.

Stehekin Valley Ranch

We crawled the 4.9-morning miles to the Stehekin bus stop, excited for showers and laundry, tired from the week-long stretch without. There is no road into Stehekin, most people take the boat. However, there is a road in Stehekin with buses that shuttle people around for a fee. It’s mostly a gravel forest road with potholes a plenty, but it works.

There were already 3 other hikers at the bus stop when we arrived, Boogie, Tracks, and a lady section hiker that did not give a name. Brianna pre-purchased us tickets for 9am on the city bus, so we chatted with the other hikers and patiently waited for our ride to arrive when a completely different bus from the Stehekin Valley Ranch arrived. Bethany popped out from behind the wheel of the bus and asked if any of us wanted rooms or needed a ride. Brianna and I looked at each other and smiled. This is not the bus we paid for, definitely the bus we were going to be riding.

Brianna, Boogie, Tracks, and I all jumped on the bus for a ride. The bus stopped at the ranch real quick to pick up other guests and so that we could secure our reservation before heading onto the legendary Stehekin bakery and finally into town. There were other stops along the way as well, but we were too focused on bakery food, like huge cinnamon rolls, to care.

I cannot say enough nice things about the Stehekin Valley Ranch experience, especially as compared to what we saw of the Stehekin. As people who only traveled from the showers to the general store, I’ll not pretend us to be experts, just a couple of hikers.

Showers at the ranch are included with the fee and were amazingly clean with hot water, strong flow, towels, washcloths, and soap. They will even do your laundry, with the catch that all clothes are sun-dried.  Dinner was fantastically cooked fresh fish with sides of pasta, green beans, salad, fruit salad, and a huge selection of pies for dessert.

Fun add-on story: Stehekin Valley Ranch has a cat! It actually has a couple cats, but this short story is about the old cat that hangs out by the drinking fountain. There is a bowl of water next to the fountain that nothing drinks from, why? Because this old cat only drinks from the drinking fountain. I don’t like cats. This cat felt different though, like it was living its own life by its own rules.  Yes, I watered the cat… several times.

Our cabin for the night is small with a comfortable bed and 4 pillows. Pretty pumped for some cushiony sleep.

It feels like both of these places found us. The point, I guess, is in putting yourself out there and being able to be found. OR if you’ve read the Odd Thomas books and are familiar with the concept of psychic magnatism, then it may not matter where you go or what your intentions are, it will be what it will be.