Day 167: (16.64 miles)
mile 2580.15 – 2596.79
Finally! Sleeping in…in a comfortable bed no less,in the quiet darkness and tranquility of our tent cabin at the Ranch. Paul is already up and at the Ranch’s mess hall sipping coffee. I wander into the mess hall, it’s breakfast time, and access to an endless plate of fresh and steaming hot food. No poptarts today. Their coffee, we have to say, is the hands down best coffee we’ve had during this adventure. We fill our cups from a giant coffee pot that sits atop a metal hearth at the edge of the constantly burning fireplace. We really don’t want to leave and decide that this is one of those places we will have to come back to for a few days, to explore this iconic little hamlet. Our plan is to catch the early bus and head back to the trail, for essentially what will be a “stroll” to Rainy Pass. We think the early bus is at 0930 am, but we are wrong. It leaves from the Ranch at 0830 and arrives at High Bridge at 0930. It is 0810. Crap! Time to decide. See if we can get our stuff together and catch the 0830 bus or chill and take the 1130 bus. Because we want a leisurely day on the trail, we haul butt and hastily stuff our packs. A second visit to bakery is just not in the cards. Luckily, we had already completed our resupply and packed our food bags. The laundry was done and packed away as well. With everything crammed into our packs, we set about making our brown bag lunches courtesy of the Ranch. We build ginormous sandwiches, grab a piece of fruit, a can of juice, bag of chips and two fresh cookies. With 3 minutes to spare, we grab our packs, treking poles, shoes and brown bag lunches. We quickly survey the inside of the cabin, to see if we got everything and rush out the door to the bus that is now pulling in. Phew, what a fire drill! The good thing is that we made it. (The bad thing is, that once we make camp I discover that I had left my headlamp, most likely, hanging on the bedpost at the Ranch. As always, haste makes waste. Grrrr.)
When we get on the bus, we are delighted to see that the Boys are on the bus. We were hoping to see them one more time before everyone gets scattered in the wind of real-life and goes their separate ways. Once at High Bridge, we off-load and get a hiker trash group shot.
We talk about how weird it will be, to be done in 3-4 days. We will be done in 4, as we plan to take a nero in Winthrop with Vicky who will pick us up at Rainy Pass tomorrow at 1030 ish. It is foreboding yet exciting. Some say they are not sure they want this to be over. Others can’t wait. We all have places to go and family and friends to re-connect with back at our respective homes. For months now, the trail and a petroleum based shell that we erect, take down and move each night has been home. Our backyard is huge and near endless, yet the only care we take with it is to let it alone. Our lives are a simple as one can design. Weather is our only complication. Life is good…but then so is our comfy bed at home, running water, the magic of electricity that comes from a little switch you hit and doesn’t seem to wear out, and NOT walking with all your belongings on your back from sun up to sun down. We talk about the things we will miss on the trail. The new friends we’ve made, the sights, but most of all being able to pee whenever and wherever you want. Eventually we all disperse and reluctantly get back onto the trail.
Our plan is to go about 15 miles and lay up before Rainey Pass, so we have an easy morning to the pass and our meet up with Vicky. Even though we have four days of food in our packs, they feel fairly light. As with every morning on the trail, we begin with an uphill. Why should this morning be any different, we laugh.
We walk silently along, both of us lost in thought, quietly reflecting on and chronicling this epic adventure we’ve undertaken. I still can’t believe I’ve made it this far. I was sure my body would have rallied a successful mutiny by now. The trail is well groomed and we make remarkably good time, so much so that we can be to Rainy Pass before nightfall without really trying. We decide that if we make it to Rainy Pass and camp there, we most likely will have to listen to vehicle traffic all night, so we decide we will lay up at a campsite 2 miles before the Pass, sleep till we wake up…naturally, and have a lazy breakfast. We take a long lunch and soak our feet in Maple Creek, enjoying the soothing white noise of water rushing over rocks.
We forgo the narrow suspension footbridge above the creek in favor of a rock hop across it. Before we get to our campsite, there is a log crossing over another creek, due to the demise of the previously well built, but ceremoniously destroyed, in the last rain storm, bridge. I shuffle across the top, as Paul says, “Charlie Chaplin” style without a whimper. We make camp, and begin to laugh, as the night’s calm is punctuated with the sounds of motor vehicles and trucks passing through Rainy Pass. Classic. We plug in our headphones and search for a music station or news on our iPods to drown out the traffic. We get three stations. A Mexican polka music station, a fire and brimstone gospel station and the news…in French.