Taken from both my 2007 and 2012 thru hikes:
Town: Stehekin. Runners up – Etna, Ashland and Cascade Locks.
Restaurant/Food Stop: Stehekin bakery, Timberline Lodge AYCE buffet, Drakesbad, Morning Glory restaurant in Ashland.
Lodging: Apart from the amazing trail angel stops, I would narrow it down to Stehekin Ranch, Timberline Lodge and the Warner Springs Resort (closed in 2012).
Swimming Spot: Palisade Lake, just down from Mather Pass. Colder than a witch’s titty during a Siberian winter, it is hard to imagine a more spectacular place for a dip. Lake Chelan was also amazing; brought back great memories of kayaking and swimming in the fjords of Norway.
Most Scenic section: The High Sierra between Forrester Pass and Red Meadows.
Best Side Trip: Mt Whitney and the hike down to Yosemite Valley from Tuolomne to complete the JMT.
Best Beer: Tough call, as I had some good microbrews in both Bend and Ashland. However, if I had to pick just one it would be Walking Man (how could any self respecting long distance hiker resist a beer with a name like that?!)
Best Burger: Paradise Valley.
Best Milkshake: Tie between Echo Lake and Caribou Crossroads (Belden).
Best Trail Names: There are a lot of good ones, but off the top of my head these are some of my favourites:
– Buns of Steel
– Bond, Gold Bond (said like in James Bond)
– Train (as in wedding, not choo choo)
– And last, but not least, my old hiking buddy, ‘The Gambler’ (for his pension to ‘roll the dice’ when it comes to water treatment).