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Cart Woman
Meanmean's slow journey

photoMeanmean is on a slow walk to somewhere she can stop and write her story. Photo by Solveig Torvik

Meanmean is a strong and slender woman who arrived in Winthrop late yesterday. As far as anyone knows, she’s the first person ever to pull a grocery cart loaded with belongings over the North Cascades highway.

Her journey has gone viral on the Methownet bulletin board. By mid-day today, there were more than 2,600 hits on the item called “A woman pulling a cart” that was posted on October 26. Some three-dozen people had responded with comments of concern, news of her whereabouts, and thoughts on homeless people and mental illness.

Today, Meanmean planned to walk south from Winthrop’s Pine Near RV Park, where she chose to spend the night outdoors with a campfire instead of in the cabin that had been offered. She said she’s not sure she’ll get to Twisp or camp outdoors again tonight. But she knows that if she does get there, she’ll find a motel room waiting and the staff at Room One standing by to help.

In urban America, Meanmean would be nearly invisible. But by crossing the mountains and dropping into the rural Methow Valley, she’s a sight so uncommon that she’s become a topic of conversation wherever she’s been seen. She’s ignited the concern of many and the generosity of multiple Good Samaritans who have given her food, water and a bit of money for supplies.

Meanmean told the Methow Grist she is 53 and her life “is a little thin right now.” She said she left with her cart from a farmers’ market near Belllingham and that she is a writer looking to get somewhere where she can stop and write her story.

Standing on the highway near the Winthrop Barn late yesterday, she shared a bill of particulars about demons and her religious beliefs.

But her immediate goal was to get to a grocery store for supplies and a hardware store for spare parts for her grocery cart, errands later put on hold.

Before dusk, someone had replaced a worn-out cart wheel and Meanmean was sitting on a bench outside Trails End Bookstore eating a carmel apple while talking with Town Marshall Dave Dahlstrom, who helped her get up Pool Hall Hill to the campground. By dark, she was settling into a complimentary campsite at Pine Near.


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Thanks for writing with sensitivity, Karen. It certainly was astonishing to see her along the highway in Mazama and think about crossing the North Cascades that way. I hope she survives and thrives wherever she ends up this winter.

Scott Waichler


I saw her make her way from Sedro-woolley to Marblemount in about a week. I also said before i read this... that i thought it would be cool to track her where abouts.. well i wasnt the only one who thought this.



We have seen her migration over the past as a family over the past weeks. She is obviously delusional and should be institutionalized based on my wife's short interaction with her. However, our mental health system is so strapped that the police don't even want to pick her up for an evaluation (which would be wildly abnormal) because they are assuming that no one from the state would pick her up and transport her to a safe inpatient environment. Her declination of help are not a reflection of her independent thinking but of her delusional state. The local public health department should be contacted and an MHP should make contact with this woman to do an assessment. This would allow them to involuntarily commit her. Otherwise, she will freeze to death in the next week or so. This is common here on the west side - and for the protection of the patient, we must intervene. Just a note about our context - this would never be allowed happen in any western European country. The social contract in most of those countries would never allow the mentally ill to wander hundreds of miles through a wilderness without something being done. It is a sad reflection on our culture that she has not been pick up and taken to an inpatient mental health facility weeks ago.

Michael Tuggy, MD