Wednesday July 6th, 2022, 0610-1230
Hall Creek rd to Thirteen Mile trailhead HWY 21, WEBO mm 500, Segment 4 Kettle Range
17.3 miles, Gain 3000′, Loss 5500′, elevation 2043
I was happy to put some distance on, leaving the bad memories of the bushwhack behind me in the morning. A good night’s sleep had done wonders to reset my body and my attitude for more hiking. It rained for a few hours overnight. My tent has held up great to all the moisture but even more so, it’s provided an absolute sanctuary against the bugs…I would have gone INSANE by now without it. I don’t know how someone could put up with anything short of a tent in these environments. Cowboy camping and tarps are great for the southwest but the PNW is a whole different animal.
I walked the dirt road just shy of 2 miles then turned off on a trail for the rest of the day. It was kind of overgrown and with a smattering of blowdowns but man did it feel amazing just to have a trail after yesterday! It went up about 1000′ then undulated quite a bit. Still I didn’t mind. I guess the bushwhack was a good thing, as it was a fresh reminder to value and respect the trails we do have. This one had obviously seen some love over the years, it’s just that the explosion of new growth had really buried it in places. All the vegetation was of course dripping wet, which caused it to cling to my legs even more.
Around 8 am it started to rain again. I was a bit perplexed, as the last forecast I’d seen had only called for a 20% chance of rain. It drizzled for several hours. I just kept moving, experiencing the forest for what it was…a lush rainforest exploding with life. Eventually I came to some rocky hills that were covered in grass and wildflowers, with beautiful views down into the canyon. I could see the skies clearing to the west and knew the rain was about done. The trail followed a roaring stream, with a huge rock wall on the other side. It was pretty neat looking, unique in what I was expecting from this trail.
I made my way several thousand feet down into the canyon where I’d been 2 days prior. I was hoping to find some day hikers on the trail, or at least a few cars in the parking lot. There was not a single person or vehicle. I went straight to the hwy and plopped my pack in front of the intersection. I arranged my umbrella so that it read “hiker to town” and then started doing some chores. I needed to eat, take off my wet shoes and socks, and ideally rinse them out. After about 10 minutes, a few trucks drove by. I didn’t expect anyone to stop, so once they’d passed, I walked up the road a bit to see if there was access to the river. In that short time, I looked back to see that a truck coming from the other direction had pulled up beside my pack and was waiting. It was one of the first 3, come back to get me. Again I marveled at my luck.
Rick was visiting his summer property near Republic and we talked about how nice the area was. He dropped me off at the Sitka Coffee restaurant at the south end of town, since I’d heard they had great food. I asked the barista how big the large burrito bowl was, knowing full well I’d order it anyway. She replied that it was big enough that I’d have leftovers. Well hold my beer. After finishing it in one go, I also had a lemon muffin and a coffee. Everything was really good but the burrito bowl had pulled pork that Travis, the owner, had barbecued himself. It was so delicious that I’d be having dreams about it for weeks to come. Seriously, one of the best things I’ve ever eaten on trail…but I feel like I say that a lot. Travis chatted with me for awhile, very curious about the trail and how to attract more hikers.
The rest at the coffee shop was just what I needed. I dried my stuff outside and charged devices inside. I’d been hoping to get back on trail same day but the past 2 days had taken it out of me. Kerrie offered for me to stay another night in her basement bedroom and I just couldn’t resist. I went to the grocery for a quick resupply and to grab something simple for dinner. I also visited the hiker box at the co-op to grab a free can of bear spray, deciding it couldn’t hurt to have it for upcoming sections. I went back to Kerrie’s, told her about my adventures in bushwhacking, and crashed hard. Republic had become one of my new favorite trail towns.