Read Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4.
HIKERS OF SECTION K – STEVENS PASS TO RAINY PASS: SQUARE PEG & CAN-CAN
Origin: Honolulu, Hawaii
Hiker Type: Northbound Section Hikers
Trail Resume: Square Peg has hiked the entire Appalachian Trail; both have done much hiking in Hawaii; both have hiked other sections of the Pacific Crest Trail
I had reached Suiattle Pass, which was the end of my last big uphill climb before my next resupply. It was a long hike down, but at least it was downhill.
As I was descending towards the south fork of Agnes Creek, I passed some southbound hikers. They asked me if I had found a water filter. I had not. They told me that there were two older hikers ahead who had lost a water filter, and they were passing on the word in case anybody could locate it.
(Actually, I did find a lost water filter in southern Washington, and I carried it to the next road crossing and left it there since I had no idea if I would ever meet the owners. As it so happens, I did eventually meet the party who had lost the water filter. Oh well. At least it was not littering the forest where I found it, and maybe it helped somebody at the road crossing who really needed a water filter.)
A few hours later, I finally reached the south fork of Agnes Creek.
The trail along Agnes creek was easy and very straightforward. Eventually, I caught up with two older hikers. And yes, they were the ones who had lost the water filter. For a while I walked and chatted with them. They were Square Peg and Can-can, both from Honolulu, Hawaii. I don’t remember how Square Peg got her name, but Can-can’s name comes from the Hawaiian idiomatic expression ‘if can can, if no can no can. ‘We were heading to the same campsite – Swamp Creek Camp.
When I was at Stevens Pass, I found the Section K pages from the Wilderneess Press PCT guidebook in the hiker box. I expected it to be pretty useless for navigation purposes (especially since it was so out-of-date that it did not have the re-route around the Suiattle River), but I decided to take it along for entertainment. The guidebook did say that Swamp Creek Camp was an excellent campsite. I passed this information on to Square Peg and Can-can, and I mentioned that I had picked up the guidebook pages at Stevens Pass. It turns out that Square Peg was the one who had left it in the hiker box! Her husband had sent them in the resupply box.
My pace was faster than theirs, which made it a bit tough for me to hold back and talk to them. Finally, I pulled ahead. They asked me to reserve a spot for them at Swamp Creek Camp. That turned out to be unnecessary, because we were the only people who stayed at Swamp Creek Camp that night. They arrived about ten minutes after me.
Swamp Creek Camp is excellent – in fact, it’s one of the best campsites I saw in Washington. Square Peg & Can-can liked it a lot too. My one criticism is that there is not as much tree cover as I would like (if you look carefully at the above photo, I claimed one of the few spots in the camp which has good tree cover).
Though they are a party of two, they each had their own tent – Big Agnes Fly Creek tents to be specific. Like many people, they were surprised by the size of my tent, and I explained that it is nice to use a two-person tent instead of a one-person tent. Square Peg said she would like that too, but at her age she would never want to carry the weight of a two-person tent. I then told them how much my tent weighed, and it was lighter than their tents. That’s because my tent (which is going to get its own blog post) is basically the lightest tent you can find which offers both rain and bug protection. Of course, my tent has its drawbacks, which is why I really wanted tree cover, whereas Square Peg and Can-can were fine with pitching their tents in the open. (Actually, their tents were *really good* – in fact, aside from higher weight and smaller space, their tents were superior to mine).
Square Peg and Can-can had a little problem with dinner. All of their remaining food required cooking. They knew there was a campfire ban, but since they had a wood stove, they thought they would be okay. It was only when they were deep in the wilderness that they saw a sign which said wood stoves were also banned (along with alcohol stoves, though gas stoves were still permitted). So basically, their options that evening were to either break the fire ban and use the wood stove, or to not eat that evening. (Actually, they had a third option – ask me for food. I did have a little spare food, so if they had asked I probably would have shared with them, but they did not ask). They humbly explained that they were responsible hikers and that they were only using the wood stove because of this situation. I told them that I was not going to report to the forest rangers, and that as long as they extinguished the fire properly I was cool with them using a wood stove. Square Peg told me her husband was a firefighter, and she would be absolutely mortified if she did anything unsafe with fire in the wilderness. They were, in fact, responsible with their fire.
Square Peg has hiked the entire Appalachian Trial in chunks (and that’s where she got the name ‘Square Peg’), and has also hiked most sections of the Pacific Crest Trail. Can-can has hiked other sections of the Pacific Crest Trail, though not as many as Square Peg. They told me that there is lots of hiking to do in Hawaii (which I can easily believe) and that hiking is so common that it’s just a thing everybody does when they grow up.
The next morning, I got an earlier start, and I also was hiking at a faster pace, but I knew we would meet again in Stehekin, our next resupply. As it so happened, instead of taking the park shuttle from High Bridge to Stehekin Landing, I got a ride in the Stehekin Valley Ranch Shuttle. The driver was a really cool guy – he’s from the Stehekin valley, and in addition to driving the ranch shuttle, he maintains the vegetable garden at the ranch.
Later in the day, as I expected, I saw Square Peg and Can-can again. They were not as lucky as I was. They arrived at High Bridge before the park shuttle was scheduled to leave, yet the shuttle was leaving ahead of schedule. They tried to run after the shuttle – and there were other hikers with them who were trying to catch it too – yet the driver continued on (I later found out from the locals that one of the park shuttle drivers is a jerk who sometimes leaves hikers behind, so it was probably him). The other hikers with them decided to walk on the 11-mile road in order to get to town. However, Square Peg had hurt her ankle during the hike between Swamp Creek Camp and High Bridge, so they were going to wait several hours for the final shuttle of the day. However, a local with a car passed by and picked them up. There was only room in the car for the two of them, so when they passed by the hikers who were walking on the road to Stehekin Landing, they felt sorry that they could not pick them up too.
In any case, I was reunited with Square Peg and Can-can. We all stayed at Purple Point Campground (Square Peg and Can-can got the last permits for Purple Point). We all took a zero the following day (zero = day with no hiking). I got to hear about some of Square Peg’s adventures on the Appalachian Trail. She mostly hiked it during the off-season, so she did not encounter many people on the AT, and shelters were sometimes closed. Most memorable was the time she tried to spend the night in a closed shelter, only to find out that it had been taken over by bats.
During the first night in Stehekin, Square Peg’s inflatable sleeping pad was punctured. I let her use my gear repair kit (which I had never used before). It took some hours to dry, and the next morning I was running to the shuttle, so I never found out if we had successfully fixed the sleeping pad. I hope it at least helped.
I know Square Peg and Can-can were going to spend at least one more day in Stehekin to help Square Peg’s ankle heal. I hope that it did heal and they were able to get back on the trail. I know that they also planned to stop in Mazama so they could pick up the permits to enter Canada. I don’t know if they made it, but if they did, I hope they saw my entry in the trail registers so they could know that I made it to Canada too.
For the last post in this series, I will describe my designated hiker of Section L: Just Jon.
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