In to Oroville
Our first zero day on the trail and what a lovely one it was. The extremely generous Mcraes lent us a car and we made our way into town for resupply and lunch with Dirty B and Simplesoul. Downtown Republic is right out of a museum or movie set for the old west. Elevated rail cars from mining days and store fronts that call to mind the infamous Saloons of Westerns. We had lunch a the Knotty Pine and then headed to the library for some blogging. After that, good ol' Ben and Jerry got us the one mile walk back to the Mcraes. Once back, we watched the second Game of Thrones episode and got ready to hit the Republic Brewery. Despite the fact that it was a MONDAY and our lovely hosts had worked all day and had to be up again in the morning, they joined us for some brews and dinner from Esther's Mexican Restaurant down the street. Simplesoul and Jeff did some damage on some serious large burritos and enchilladas.
We rounded out our evening with some more trail talk back at their place before tucking into our king sized bed for another evening. Sleeping like royalty. Artie was up before the sun and ready to drive us back to the trail and our fellow hikers- both to two separate drop off points- before she started her work day. These two are not just trail angels, they are actual saints. We hugged our host, who seemed at this point like family, before hitting the trail up into some pasture land. We climbed up to a saddle giving views of what we were leaving behind and what we had to look forward to. The trail led down to some dirt roads that wound to the shore of Bonaparte Lake. A small camp store and restaurant proved the perfect place for a cold drink and snack before a big climb up Bonaparte Mountain. 3,500 + we wound around switch backs and up through a forest that had seen some serious damage during a windstorm. We heard that a friendly Ranger who manned the look out enjoyed visits from through hikers and we were not going to disappoint.
A long day, yet high on the views and fueled from town, we made it to the summit before sundown. We climbed that stairway to the look out and were greeted by Caleb- a young boy, no more than 22, who was on a 3 month shift alone at the lookout. He happily paused his workout to chat with us and point out some peaks in the distance. The air was clouded by some fires in the Pasayten Wilderness, but Caleb assured us that they were under control. We settled in to what must be the sweetest campsite on the trail and had a sound night's sleep.
The next morning, our path down from the mountain cut through a veritable haystack of blowdowns, the remnants of a particularly fierce windstorm from a few years back. Luckily, some good trail maintenance kept the tread clear as we dropped and found ourselves on one of the now-familiar gravel forest roads. Now low on water, we made the unfortunate decision to filter from a nearby creek which had been polluted by cattle and instantly regretted our choice on tasting its murky flavor. Thankfully, the small town of Havillah was not too far off the trail, so we stopped to swap our water from the tap at the local church. We were greeted by the neighbor, Casey, while he searched for his wandering dog (a mut with a very Swedish sounding name... Gupta maybe?). He gave us the o.k. to hang out, and gave us some hand picked sun dried apricots, as well as a bottle of his own cider, Old Swede, in the meantime. Given the hot morning and the cold bottle, we decided to not let it go to waste and downed the whole thing despite it only being 9 a.m. Oops.
We continued on our way but only got about 50 yards before another friendly local stopped us to let us know about their little town. They seemed happy to have visitors coming to enjoy the shade, and we were certainly happy to have it. The road from there cut west across more dry territory, so we elected to take a small shortcut that shaved off 4.5 miles in order to save ourselves some needless time in the sun. We did happen to spot a black bear, but aside from that, this was another uneventful stretch. After passing the usual menagerie of yards fenced with "NO TRESPASSING" signs and rusted vehicles in various states of decomposition, we picked up the Whistler Canyon Trail, which immediately improved our views.
The path wound its way downwards through ripe raspberry patches towards the Okanogan River Valley, crossing above and around high rock ledges the entire time. This was prime mountain lion and bighorn sheep territory, so we were on the lookout, but to no avail. Eventually we were treated to stunning views of the valley laid out below, with green farms blanketing the plain while the river wound between them, all surrounded by rolling, rocky hills. We decided to call ahead and get reservations at a motel in town for the next day, so our minds we at ease about accomodations in town at least. With our water once again dwindling, we made from a nearby creek and filled up for the night before camping on a ledge overlooking the trail.
Our morning was quick and easy, as we finished our descent in the morning light and booked it in to the town of Oroville on a fast road walk. Our motel here is pretty sweet, and definitely knows how to cater to the hikers and bikers that pass through. We've managed to get our resupply in for the formidable stretch that is to come, and now are just enjoying a night in a bed before going back out in to the wilderness. Talk to you all on the other end!
This was on the Mcrae's fridge... #meanttobe
(left to right) Mike, Simplesoul, Dirty B, Artie... you might know us
a last look down to Republic area
Mt. top campsite!
Stop at church for water. Get free hard cider from the maker- EVERYONE in WA drink OLE SWEDE!!!
Thank you, Casey!!!
Trail magic! before 11 am!
View down to the valley near Oroville
Photos can't capture the beauty