Day 7 Mosquito bite count: approx. 12,754
Invented Mosquito killing game: 1
Hall and Oates songs sung: 3
Amount of GPS equipment: 0
Picking up where we left off in the wild west town of Winthrop, our RV rattled its way along route 2 towards the Bavarian-themed town of Leavenworth. Clearly I'm still new to Pacific Northwest culture, because from my standpoint, themed towns seems pretty common around here. As we rolled down the main street of Leavenworth, I felt like I was in SWITZERLAND! Quaint chalets perched against the backdrop of green rolling mountains, punctuated by jolly lederhosen-clad folks eating Bratwurst! That's what a Bavarian village is supposed to look like right?! Turns out even all business signs are styled in a town-mandated Bavarian font, and while that might be entertaining for a while, in the end, it just makes the Bank of America really hard to find. Plus we were in wild west Washington two hours earlier, so sorry if I sound cynical. Whatever.
We arrived at the Icicle River RV Resort just in time to witness a massive conference of what I assume to be the RV Circle of Elders discussing RV issues and eating crudité. While we hadn't heard from Sam, we knew that this was a difficult stretch, so we didn't worry. After a swim in the river and some tasty cheeseburgers with mushrooms and avocados, we made a plan to wake up early, hike the 5.6 miles to Lake Valhalla at Steven's Pass and catch Sam as he ran around the lake. This was our plan, and I slept well, confident that everything would work out.
As we arrived at the Steven's Pass trailhead, Sam's support team, John and Eric radioed us and told us they had received a message from Sam saying he wasn't going to get in until midnight. So much for the plan. While this news was definitely concerning, again we reminded ourselves of the difficult terrain and conditions Sam was facing, and that delays like this were inevitable. While anxiously awaiting Sam's arrival, we drove around for hours trying to find a GPS system, which would allow us to track Sam more accurately. This search, however, was in vain. Apparently this kind of technology is used by spies and can't really be purchased by a bunch of young filmmakers at your run-of-the-mill sporting goods store. Who knew?
After an unsuccessful mission to buy GPS technology and a successful mission to use up gas (10 mi/gallon!!) We rattled back to the trailhead. Still no word from Sam. Marion and I hiked up a little ways to scout out good filming spots for the next day. Finally, around 9 o'clock that night, John and Eric got a message from Sam saying he was going to arrive around 8 a.m. the next morning, and that it was "gettin' dangerous." With this final message, we set our alarms for 4 a.m. in order to hike to Lake Valhalla and meet/film Sam there. With Sam's support team half an hour behind us with sandwiches and gatorade for him, we reached the lake at 7:30 a.m. and set up our equipment. A few hours of Hall and Oates songs (compliments of Eric) and rock-throwing later, Jeff spotted Sam across the lake with his binoculars. We watched as he limped to us, starved and sleep-deprived. Ben filmed as he collapsed in heap on the grass and absentmindedly swatted at mosquitos and scarfed down a sandwich. Sam was completely exhausted, but determined to get to the bottom of the section once and for all. So we filmed a final shot of him walking along a short ridge and hiked down.
Back in Leavenworth, at the Bavarian-themed Howard Johnson, we talked to Sam as he iced his legs. He was tired, but good-spirited and alert. Sam had been tested in the most extreme way and certainly humbled by Mother Nature at her bitchiest, yet this experience only seemed to strengthen his determination. As Marion and I left Sam, John, and Eric at 8 p.m. to go to sleep, I felt confident Sam would be ready. A friend of mine recently said "badass and altruistic, good combo," and it's true, you really can't beat that combo.
Much love and talk to you soon,
Cecily "Crazy Legs" Mauran