The best room in Stehekin
Stehekin, WA is quite an incredible place. For those of you unfamiliar with the town, you're only able to get there by plane or ferry across Lake Chelan, or hike in, making it a unique place to visit due to it's inaccessibility and what that means for life there. There is no cell phone service but there's a satellite phone that's available for use. There are several establishments to lodge at, with activities like bike-riding, hiking, white-water rafting, and horse-back riding. There's a fantastic bakery as well as a great place to dine at. There's a post office, laundry and shower room, and a place to camp for free! Really an amazing place...especially when you've been out in the mountains for a little while ;)
We were thankful to have the opportunity to spend several days there. Jason had wanted to take me there for my birthday and it never panned out, so he felt like this was taking the place for that. We splurged and got a really great hotel room right in town, and there we rested our injuries, enjoyed the amazing weather, watched a US World Cup game, and really just enjoyed Stehekin as much as we could while being immobilized!
We also met some great people there-all friendly and helpful to us. I love watching our lives intertwine with others-maybe even for continued friendships. Cas, the guy we had met at the Bridge Creek Trailhead, told us about Patrick who was in Stehekin. We did find him and he was the one that helped us use a phone to call Rich. Right after I had got done speaking with Rich, I was introduced to Anna, and as I was shaking her hand, I said "And I'm Emotional", because emotional I was after having shared with Rich some of what we'd been through! :) Two Rangers named Nick and Marc were also amongst those who were great to talk with. Thanks you guys for welcoming us in and for making yourselves available to be of help to us. We really valued all of you!
After three days and two nights, we realized that our injuries were not getting better...unfortunately. It was tough to make the decision, but we bought our ferry tickets and made the plan to head back to Plain to try and recover, not to mention let the snow melt off a little more. It took us the rest of the day to get home, but it felt wonderful knowing that we atleast had a place to go home to. :)
Now it's Monday, and we've been home at Rich and Cindy's for a week. A Week! (And they haven't kicked us out yet ;) ) Our injuries still are bothersome, and now Jason seems like he has the flu or something! It's so hard to believe that all of this is happening, when all we want to be doing is hiking. TRUST is the word that pops into my mind while praying. And that's exactly what I'm going to do, because I believe that my Papa has it all figured out.
We ask for your continued prayers-they've been answered before, surely they'll be answered again...to His glory
The swelling and redness on Jason't right leg
Coon Lake-Our first PCT lake that wasn't frozen over! What an enjoyable moment it was to stop and stare...
Cassandra: It felt amazing knowing that we were walking out to Stehekin this day. The trail was free of snow, there were flowers and birds and beautiful waterfalls-and people! Yesterday, while eating dinner underneath the bathroom building at the Bridge Creek Trailhead, we had a guy named Cas stop to check up on us and just chat for awhile. It was so fun talking with him because he was very familiar with what we just went through and that empathy was the best thing in the world at that moment! So running into other people along the trail was a real highlight for me. I was startled by Nick, a Ranger who was out on the trail checking on conditions-I just wasn't used to running into people! Especially around corners! We chatted with him for a little while, and Jason even mentioned to him that he lost his sunglasses and Nick said if he found them, he would mail them out! Awesome.
Unfortunately though, we were doing over 15 miles, and a lot of it was downhill. By this point, both of us were hobbling pretty bad. By the time we made it to the Bridge Creek campground, our injuries were so swollen and we were hurting! Although the homemade mac 'n cheese that we had really hit the spot! Mmmmmm...We knew we would make the last bus into Stehekin so we rested there for awhile, which was very much needed. The weather was so pleasant, too.
Getting to High Bridge, the trailhead where we would catch the bus into Stehekin, there was such a tangible feeling that 'We had made it'. We did it...
Now what? :)
Cassandra: The ascent to Cutthroat Pass is ridiculous right now. The trail switchbacks up the mountain, but due to the snow, following switchbacks is almost harder and more dangerous than just going straight up. So Jason picked a line and we slowly stair-climbed our way to the elevation necessary to then traverse the mountain. (We didn't want to go higher than the trail!)
At the top, the trail was every-so-often visible with about 30 ft. sections, etc. with those mounds of snow to get over in-between. At one point, we came upon an extremely steep mound to get over-we were shoving our ice axes in the snow at about chest-high. We could pretty much just lean to the right a little bit and we'd be against the snow.
I paused behind Jason to let him get a bit ahead of me. While I was watching, I saw his feet start to slide out underneath him. This had happened before so it wasn't a new sight. But the problem was that instead of having a big slope of snow below us, there was the mound of snow about 15 ft. high, and then a rock-cliff that had no bottom in sight. I immediately thought of him self-arresting himself (which for those of you unfamiliar with the term, it, minus the details, just simply means that you use your ice axe to help you stop sliding down) as his body slid out from underneath him. I started frantically yelling "Hubby?! Hubby?!" I looked to his hand that was on the ice axe, and watched in horror as he lost his grip.. and completely let go...
Still screaming, I watched him slide down the mound of snow toward the cliff and felt frozen in a moment as I watched his feet land on a skinny patch of the trail that was starting to protrude out from the mound. I immediately started crying as I realized I had just witnessed a miracle...That piece of ground, I felt, came from nowhere. If he had slid down mere inches closer to me, his fate would have been different. I couldn't help but feel wrapped in the arms of grace, and helpless as I still stood on the mound, yet to cross that section.
Jason is now telling me, "Don't do this now, don't do this now" as I'm uncontrollably shedding tears of amazement, thankfulness, fright, and from the simple presence of the King .
Jason had to kick steps up to me so that I could inch my way down to the trail. I sat down on the ground as soon as I got there. At this moment, my tears are still present and I say to Jason "Now this is unsafe". The trail continued around a corner that butted out, and there was another mound to get over! And more cliff...
The rocks below looked safer to try and climb than the snow, so Jason attempted it. I watched on, praying that he wouldn't slip again.
Never have I felt so much love for Jason-my mind could't help but think about the what-ifs, and to have witnessed a near-death situation with him, my perspective has forever been changed..
Jason made it and said that the trail around the corner was different and not nearly as sketchy, and that made me feel so much better...but I still had to get over there...
Jason attempted to come towards me over the snow, but again, that snow was so soft that the top layers just completely crumbled away and was unsafe to continue on. I now said that I would climb the rock, and never before was I so grateful for my limited rock-climbing experience. There were great hand-holds which made the traverse so much better than going on the snow. On the other side, the cliffs transformed into snow slopes, which by now, I would take any day...
I had never experienced anything like that before-I had no strength left but the strength that was given to me. I had to believe that if we could be taken through that, that we would then be taken through the rest, so one step at a time was all I could do.
I pretty much cried my way to Cutthroat Pass. Any time I thought about Jason being alive, or that I had just witnessed a miracle, or that step-by-step we were getting closer to getting off of that mountain, tears welled up in my eyes. I was ever so grateful to be alive-together.
I had been touched by His hand...
Cassandra: Again I didn't write this in my journal, but just some thoughts..Getting to Glacier Pass and walking under Tatie Peak, I felt so discouraged by how far it seemed like we needed to go. It was essentially about eight miles of traversing the sides of the mountains in the snow. Some parts were steeper than others, and since it went in a big half-moon shape, we could see where we needed to go a lot of the time! And it seemed so far away! I had to self-arrest myself at one point-the snow just gave way underneath me. I was fine, but still...arghhh..
Actually getting to Glacier Pass felt so good. Now we were at lower elevation and we were now descending below snow-level, and boy did that feel great! Even though I was now hurting pretty bad with my achilles, it felt so good to move through the miles so much more easily. And we had pretty nice weather this day. The flowers along Brush Creek were a welcome sight! And then we started moving back up...towards snow...
Cassandra: I didn't write this in my journal, but I just remember this day being so long...We were already behind our schedule so much due to slow travel. Jason was really excited about the thought of getting to Hart's Pass this day, but that meant going over four mountain passes and about 11 miles. Sketchy scree fields, going in the wrong direction, long traverses, my achilles heel now hurting...it just seemed like such a distant goal. I remember being on top of one of these passes and seeing some kind of structure in the far distance. I mean like looking out at one of the many mountain peaks, and thinking "We need to get there. Today." It was overwhelming. But later that day, when we were actually traversing UNDER that same structure, I was blown away by the fact that we had actually walked that far and that our goal was in sight. Unbelievable. One step at a time...
Cassandra: Right now, we're dry, we're warm, we're protected...We're alive...The last two days have been epic. We lost the trail for awhile the first time we hit snow, and it took us maybe 45 minutes to find it again. We played Marco Polo with our friends Tim and Rachel because they had followed our footsteps, but they went off into tons of directions! So we found each other again that way-quite a different version than being in a pool...on a hot day...hmmmm...
Jason and I were off at a different pace than they were, so we went ahead and met again while we were taking a break. We left them for our final time as we continued on to what was going to be an incredibly crazy section.
The trail was steep and snowy on the Devil's Stairway. In the snow I wrote a message for Tim and Rachel that read "Be Careful", but what it really should have said was "Turn Around!" Jason and I both had ice axes, they didn't.
We made it past that scary section and continued to "sidehill" our way over steep slopes covered with lots of snow. What was later to be a miracle in our eyes, we found one small patch of trail and decided to rest and eat...But not for long as it started to rain a little bit, and then all of a sudden start downpouring sleet. It was maddening as we scurried to set up our shelter. Lightning and thunder boomed outside of the tarp. Again, thank God we were on that part of the trail when we were.
It snowed about 3"-4" that night as our tarp sagged under the snow load. The next morning was awful as it was still snowing/raining, freezing, and it was just down-right miserable laying under the tarp. Zero motivation to continue on...But should we keep going, or try and wait it out?
Jason was my hero as he motivated me to get going-he actually got out and went ahead kicking steps and scouting, then came back to me. His confidence and encouragement along the rest of that sketchy section was a lifesaver.
We've only been traveling about one mile an hour! We're doing our best but it's slow going in the snow! But one step at a time...
Cassandra: Sitting cozy, snug and warm, even though it's raining. We're camped @ Monument 78-I can't believe we're here-in the place where pictures have been our only source of reference, and where countless people have come before us...A legend that's now outside of our doorstep-literally.
Walking down the trail away from Thom, Shane, and Kady, my eyes welled up with tears at the thought of how much heart, energy and soul went into the preparations for this journey. And there I was, walking away with just the essentials in my backpack, my hubby by my side, and my God fully surrounding me. He brought us here and where He'll take us we know not. But we follow, because we love Him, because He is good...
And now sleep-I've been looking forward to this all day.
Hi Everyone! It's Cassandra writing, and I'm so pleased to say that Jason and I have made it through the first section! About 80 miles down to Stehekin! We made the decision to come home for a little bit of time to heal and let the snow melt a little bit more before we head out again! It feels GREAT to be home-alive and loved! We're so encouraged by your comments and thankful again, to Rich for keeping you updated. Your prayers mean so much and have been felt quite literally by us. It's been an unbelievable journey! I'll post our journals and pictures from the last week for you-again it feels so good to be home for a bit...and sleep in a bed ; )
It has been a very rough week, but they made it to Stehekin on Monday, just one day later than planned. They bought a hotel room for a few days.
They have had to hike in lots of snow every day, and need an extra day or two to rest up and heal some swollen ankles, knees and shins from all the post holing.
One story Cassandra shared ...
"We had been hiking most of the day one day, and were going through a very big snowfield. All of a sudden for no explainable reason, except that God put it there, about a 6 foot long snow-free patch of trail appeared. So, we stopped for a bite to eat. As we were eating it suddenly started to rain, and then hail buckets, and then lighting and thunder cracked about us. We quickly set up our tarp right there in that 6 foot clearing and spent the night. If it had not been for that 6 foot clearing we would have had to sleep in the snow, and that would have been a very cold and miserable night. Thank you, GOD!" (Sort of paraphrased)
It has been a very difficult hike so far. Much more difficult than expected. They are very tired, but plan to head out for Stevens Pass in a couple days. The weather hasn't really been too bad. But cloudy almost all of the time. Mostly, the deep snow has been very difficult. They covet all prayers!