Pacific Crest Trail

A fire detour to the remote community of Holden Village

Day 129

The small and uneven campsite right next to the bridge over Siuattle River worked perfectly despite my concerns. I was awakened by my alarm clock half past four am. That was a meant as a compromise: one one hand, I wanted to be able to get to Holden in time for dinner and with the possibility of getting a room there for the night. On the other hand, sleep. I thought half past four was cutting it close, but let me just spoil the suspense by saying that it was plenty of time, luckily. This wasn’t going to be “one of those days”.

The bursitis in my right hip region was worse than it had ever been, so it took some time to get started as I did whatever I could to avoid any movement that triggered the pain. It did get quite a lot better during the day so it didn’t pose any hindrance to the hiking. I went back across the massive bridge so that so that I could better see it as the twilight was much brighter than last night. It was impressive and I certainly wouldn’t have liked to cross the wide and raging river beneath it otherwise. Aside from that, the first part of the trail was a quite mundane ascent walking on the forest floor. Without too much hassle I got to the start of the Bannock Lakes Fire Closure, which had been in place for some time now, so instead I walked on a walk around to Holden. First I got into an impressive valley, but at the bottom I saw some smoke rising and immediately thought that a new fire could have started and would be blocking my way and forcing me to backtrack for days. Then I looked at my map and calmed down. That wasn’t the way we were going at all. The trail quickly went up and out of that valley and into another one, which was even more impressive and didn’t have a forest fire at the bottom. It was more welcoming and friendly looking with grassy mountain sides with interspersed pines. While it had been almost overcast in the morning the clouds were now retreating and eventually were almost completely gone. No haze from distant fires either. That’s a first for Washington. The warmth was also back.

The trail descended the valley and granted a wealth of nice views before eventually going down between the trees. If you know Tunnel View from Yosemite, which I admit is unlikely, then I’d say it was nearly on par with that. I had lunch at a particularly nice spot. The remaining section of the descent was a bit boring, though and the trail seemed longer than the purported eleven miles, but of well, I made it in time to Holden Village. Holden, originally founded as a mining town claims to be one of tue most remote continually inhabited communities in the lower 48, which is to say that Alaska isn’t considered here as it is in a category of its own. I’d say it is mostly people visiting for a short time as part of vacation, volunteers, people working there for a short time, and maybe a few permanent residents. You can either take a long hike into here or take a boat from the small town of Chelan across Chelan Lake to the tiny town of Lucerne and get a bus from there. One thing that you cannot do, though, is to drive here, as the gravel roads here simply aren’t contiguous with any other in the US. There is neither internet, cellular service, incoming mail, or a pay phone available here, so you are pretty well cut off from the rest of the world. No alcohol or weed either.

Anyways, I got a room and the receptionist at the registrar office said that the doors did not have locks, as they didn’t believe in that here. Got into my room which seemed to be last renovated in the seventies, dropped my things in there, and went to the small store that mostly sold apparel, books, and a few snacks. It was meticulously clean and stocked. Got some snacks to help me on my way to Stehekin tomorrow. They were surprisingly reasonably priced. There was also an outgoing mail only post office, a snack bar, and a barrister. All had limited opening hours, but I guess it was meant to create an illusion of a full fledged village.

After shopping I went for a quick shower and got done just in time for community dinner. I ate a lot there as I had once again all but run out of food despite bringing extra. It was quite nice, although tuna in the main course would’ve been nicer if I wasn’t already eating so much tuna. I sat by three other hikers, Neo, MacGyver, and RedBeard. I had crossed paths with the two former a couple of times today. They were getting off trail here and taking a car to see the monument from the Canadian side. I’d not met RedBeard before. He had started in Truckee as that was were he had gotten off trail due to ankle problems last year. He was planning to hike right to the border. When he was do, he was planning to sell his house and live off grid as a farmer and hermit. Before concluding dinner people were asked to volunteer for a couple of tasks like cleaning up after dinner. I didn’t as I had quite a few things to do and only a few people were needed.

After dinner was vesper, where people gathered in a communal hall. First everyone arriving today was introduced by the overseer and asked to stand up. I was mentally preparing myself to stand up in a manner not showing that it would cause me pain to get up after having been seated for a while due to the bursitis. I was the only of the hikers who had come, and was of course asked from where I started hiking. Afterwards, people leaving next day were asked to stand and were given a warm oration and salute. Afterwards was the religious ceremony. Here two women at an alter spoke about praying for an end to global warming, school shootings, and racism. They said imagining these things changing was as hard as it was certain that Abraham was to be a father.

Some short verses of singing interwoven in a somewhat gospel like manner. I couldn’t help but notice that the lead singer seemed to be the only African American at all of Holden. The only illumination was from candle lights now (aside from a handful of green “exit” signs). After the speeches by the two ladies, people from the community were asked to come to the middle to pray in front of crosses positioned there. A lot of people did. The whole ordeal felt comforting like it helped tie us together. It must be a great to find consolation in the help of a savior. I can’t, but I do appreciate the good intentions.

Right after vesper the snack bar opened and a long line formed outside of it. I had three scoops of ice cream for only three dollars. All the food I had eaten for dinner surprisingly didn’t take up all the space in my stomach. Afterwards I went to bed, though by doing so I was missing out on a documentary about salmon. Ha ha.

The very remote Holden Village thus seemed to be focused on Christian communal living with all three meals of the day were communal and so many shared activities. I was very glad that I got to experience both Holden and the nature leading to it. All of that because of a forest fire.

This day’s miles: 2541-2552 (plus miles on detour)

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