Mile 2546 - 5 Miles from Stehekin
Started the day at the old pct trail junction (2546.5). At this point the old trail hasn't had maintenance in a decade. We were warned a few weeks ago by a flip flopper that despite the fact that it was shorter than the new trail, it would still take you longer to find your way through it, so we opted for the new trail. It was a great choice.
The new trail was wide and freshly cut, plus we passed by the biggest trees we've seen on the trail so far! They were so big we had to stop and marvel at them. Magnificent to say the least.
Had lunch at Cloudy Pass. Ran into 3 male hikers with a dog coming off the junction and chatted with them while we ate. They were really nice and we had fun telling them stories. Being looked at funny and asked questions by every person we see is starting to feel very normal at this point.
After crossing over Cloudy Pass the smoke got noticeably worse. You could feel the air in your lungs and you could only make out the faint silhouettes of huge mountains relatively short distances from us. It was disappointing to know we might be missing some of the most epic views yet. The area we could see was still spectacular, but all of the photos tried to take came out grainy from the haze. We finally dropped back into some trees and started listening to music to help us crank out miles. We needed to move fast in order to catch the next bus to Stehekin and arrive at the post office before it closed for the weekend.
Didn't see many other hikers throughout the day, but as we set up camp everyone started showing up/passing us trying to make it to Stehekin for the post office too. When we thought we'd seen the last one, Gut Feelin showed up! She camped in the trail by us because there was barely room for the two of us in the "spot" we had found. We had a blast catching up & then went to bed excited to see Stehekin in the morning.