September 3, 2017
Day 122: Mile 2148.3 to Mile 2179.5
Elevation Gain: 6950 feet
Elevation Loss: 6400 feet
I had been eager to walk across the Bridge of the Gods all night and morning. I ran into a wonderful man, who walked with me to the bridge and took some photos of me. He was in town for his wedding anniversary and has stayed in touch with me and followed my journey since. Thank you for your kindness Marty!
I ran into Cannonball and Storyteller before my journey across the bridge began. I just loved these two! I was leaving Oregon and beginning a new journey in the beautiful state of Washington… the last state I would trek through on this quest.
Holy moly, I had walked through California and Oregon! While walking across the bridge, you could see the smoke and some flames of the fire which had started just the day prior.
Some kid was playing with fire crackers in the gorge and started a massive fire. I will not comment on this, but it was very sad to me, as the Columbia River Gorge holds a very special place in my heart.
As I walked up a hill, from where I set up camp, the fire near Cascade Locks seemed to have gotten worse. The sky was gray and filled with smoke. I later found out that they had to evacuate some of Cascade Locks because of this fire.
So, in the Sierra, I was barely doing any miles because of the snow. So, my daily elevation gain was around 2,000 feet. Had I been doing the miles I was doing in Oregon, I am sure that number would have been at least 5,000-6,000 feet a day. When I got to Oregon and felt as if I was going up an awful lot, despite people saying Oregon was “easy”. Now that I got a taste of the elevation changes in Washington, I can see why people say that about Oregon. My thoughts: none of the PCT is easy. Oregon was full of very long ascents and very long descents, with little hills in between them. High mile days are definitely easier than they once were, but every day was full of its own challenges. No day was “easy”.
There was an excessive heat warning for Northern Oregon and Southern Washington throughout this week. Temperatures were to break all time records. The heat wasn’t the only thing though, the humidity was almost unbearable. My clothes remained soaked throughout the day, and they don’t dry at night because of the humidity. I drank at least 7 liters of water. It was ridiculous and miserable.
Most of the day, was still in the forest. I don’t know why I thought as soon as I stepped foot out of Oregon, I would be out of the trees, but I sure was thankful for the trees during this heat wave.
I got to the Panther Creek Campground where I was greeted by the awesome Campground Hosts. They informed me of a new fire closure about 15 miles north of where I was. I suppose I would deal with that the following day. I was pretty sick of these fires though. The hosts were allowing the PCT hikers to camp for free because they had a cancellation. I was thankful for them. I walked over to the spot and Canon Ball and Storyteller were there, so that was a nice surprise! The wonderful people at the site next to us, gave us fruit and a diet soda, so that was a great treat! Oh soda, you have never and will never again, taste so good.
We all had dinner together, chatted a bit and called it a night.
September 4, 2017
Day 123: Mile 2179.5 to Mile 2195.4 Trout Lake – Fire Closure
Indian Heaven Wilderness fire closure… This is all I wrote in my journey this day. It must not have been that exciting of a day. So, there’s that!
I do remember passing several Southbound hikers who told me there were people waiting at the fire closure, giving hikers a ride around the fire closure. I wanted to get there before my chance of getting an easy ride out, was gone.
I made it to the far south portion of the fire closure and there was a wonderful couple waiting to give rides with trail magic. Water, Gatorade, fruit and donuts!! There were also a couple of ladies who lived close by who drove to the area just to bring the PCT hikers cookies! Thank you to all of these awesome human beings! It was wonderful. We waited for others to show up before getting a ride into “town”.
After arriving in Trout Lake, I decided I was going to sleep in town with some friends and figure out how to get back to the trail the following day. Fun fact of the day, there is no actual lake in Trout Lake! It is a very cute town though. The people were friendly and they had huckleberry everything! Huckleberry pie, huckleberry milkshakes, huckleberry cinnamon rolls… Mmmm!
September 5, 2017
Day 124: Mile 2226.4 to Mile 2247
Elevation Gain: 3100 feet
Elevation Loss: 2500 feet
The Norse Peak Fire Closure extended to mile 2226, which is where I got back on the trail. I really wanted to get ahead of these fires, but it seemed like a never ending battle lately.
Ever since the last fire closure in Oregon I hitched around, when I realized that continuous footsteps were not important to me, as they were to other people, and that isn’t why I am out here, the decision to hitch around fires has been significantly easier. When I finished the trail, and I completed 2500 or so, out of the 2650 miles, because of fire closures, in my heart I know that I did what I could of the Pacific Crest Trail in 2017, and that’s all most of us can say we did. I can still say with confidence, that I thru-hiked the PCT in 2017.
I finally got back on the trial around 1030.
After a few miles of walking in the forest (surprise!), I entered into Mount Adams Wilderness.
The trail became more open, the trees started to scatter, there was green all around, instead of scattered green on only the trees which had previously surrounded me.
Water was more plentiful and the views of Mt. Adams were pretty awesome, despite the smoke.
I met up with SoFull and we hiked together for the remainder of the day.
There was a rather challenging unnamed creek crossing at mile 2239.8. The comments on Guthooks said it was easier to cross in the morning, but SoFull and I were there around 430 pm, so that’s when we crossed. It was very muddy and the current was strong and fast. After several previous attempts, at various locations, I found the safest place I could, to cross. The water was still up to my knees. I actually had a bit of anxiety and flashbacks from the Sierra “stream” crossings, which probably made this crossing seem a bit worse than it actually was.
The camp selections were few and far between. We camped at a very popular camping spot. These two people, came in at 9pm and were so loud, setting up camp right next to me. To keep myself from getting super grumpy with them, I grabbed my sleeping pad and sleeping bag and attempted to cowboy camp with SoFull.
Our conversation was a great distraction from the noise of the other hikers. We talked about if we still loved being out here. SoFull made a very good point. He said that before he started, he knew that it wasn’t going to be fun every day. That there would be, probably more days then not, that he would be tired of walking. However, it was about the accomplishment, not necessarily having fun every day.
I’m not sure what I thought it would be like hiking the PCT. The longest backpacking trip I had done prior to this, was 9 days on the Wonderland Trail. Prior to that, I had spent at most, 10 nights in a tent. So, a total of 18 nights over a 1.5 year period. I knew there would be days that I wouldn’t enjoy as much. I knew that it wouldn’t be easy. What I didn’t know, was how hard it would be. That I would be pushing myself past every physical, mental and emotional breaking point. That I would wake up every day stiff and sore; I thought the soreness would fade over time. I didn’t realize how, at times, I would get so caught up in the complexity of the social dynamics out here.
After a few mosquito bites and a rodent scurrying across the bottom of my sleeping pad, I decided to go back to the safety of my tent. I thought I would attempt cowboy camping another night, above the alpine.
September 6, 2017
Day 125: Mile 2247 to Mile 2284.2
Elevation Gain: 7300 feet
Elevation Loss: 6100 feet
I packed out a huckleberry cinnamon roll from the cafe in Trout Lake. I had it for breakfast and it was such a wonderful treat.
Oregon started to suck my love for being here, out of me. The continuous forest hiking, the lack of water, the heat, the humidity, the spider webs, and the fires, made Oregon not so enjoyable. It’s a bit sad that there were so many fires because the areas that were closed due to the fires, were supposed to be amongst the most beautiful in Oregon. I was so thankful for Washington because it brought back my love and excitement.
I entered into Goat Rocks Wilderness around Mile 2254, but was still in the forest for at least another 10 miles. I had been super excited about Goat Rocks Wilderness. I tell you what, it was well worth the wait my friends!
The steep climbs didn’t bother me one bit. I knew that the sooner I got the climbs over with, the sooner I would see the beauty of Goat Rocks.
And I was right; the views did not disappoint and was worth every step of every steep climb. After going up Cispus Pass, I thought that it couldn’t get much more beautiful. I was wrong. Once I went over the pass, green meadows, grey mountains with scattered snow, and waterfalls revealed themselves. I was in awe.
I took a lunch break by an awesome waterfall, rested and enjoyed the beauty. The beauty in the ground that hugged each one of my shoes. The beauty in the boulders that molded to my body while sitting and eating my Snickers bar. The beauty in the air that filled my lungs. The beauty in every direction in which my eyes wandered. There I sat, surrounded by awesome, with no where to be. That is what life should be, all of the time.
The smoke from all the fires, obstructed the views a bit. Even with the smoke, I thought it to be so spectacular. I can only imagine what it would look like without the smoke!
Soon after my lunch break, I started to climb again. I had to walk across a few small snow fields, but I was basically a mountaineer at this point, so no big deal. This was a pretty steep and long climb, but turned out to be my favorite of the entire PCT.
It was a sharp climb along Knife’s Edge on Old Snowy Mountain. This view would surely take anyone’s breath away. The photographs don’t do it justice! Oh! I saw goats too… in Goat Rocks Wilderness! Ha!
I just loved this day. I spent so much time taking photographs and admiring the beauty, that I got off schedule and came into camp later than I wanted to.
Every moment was a new photo op. The above is a slide show, that I believe you have to view on a computer, rather than a phone!
The sunset was spectacular; the smoke adding new color dynamics to the typical sunset color scheme.
When I arrived, although 0.3 miles off trail, I had expected to see other hikers there, but I was the only one. As I was walking down this dark forested path, large branches started breaking in the forest surrounding me. I felt the ground shake in the soles beneath my feet. I could hear very very very large animals running away from me (thank goodness!) I was actually pretty frightened. I had never seen more than one bear hanging out together, so I was guessing it wasn’t a bear. It was larger than a deer, so maybe Elk? I made an about face and started walking really fast, back the way I came. After the noise from the herd died down, I thought “where are you going to go?”
The closest camp site was miles away. I had already conquered more miles that I initially wanted to, and it was dark out. I decided to once again, turn around and not let the fear take over. The animals were obviously afraid of me, so I hoped it would stay that way throughout the night.
I found an exposed campsite, instead of the scary wooded campsites I had passed by, that was suppose to have a wonderful view of Old Snowy, so I was excited for the sunrise.
If you’re wondering why I did a 37 mile day, and didn’t slow down to enjoy the scenery more, well, I found myself in a bubble of people again and I wanted to get away from it! I wanted to get away from the loud people who had camped next to me the night prior.
I fell asleep smelling the smoke of the fires, with my earplugs in and my music on, hoping that would scare whatever large animals were out there.
September 7, 2017
Day 126: Mile 2284.5 to Mile 2324.7
I didn’t sleep well. The Elk callings (or whatever animal makes a squeaky horn sound) woke me up a few times throughout the early morning. When I finally decided to start my day, I heard a swarm of bees behind my tent, and they slowly started to surround my tent. Thankfully, they didn’t sting me, they merely annoyed me, inevitably slowing down my packing up. The view of Old Snowy, that I was so eager to see, was nonexistent because of the smoke. The day could only get better, right?
I was glad I decided to do knife’s edge the day prior because it seemed as though the fire was getting closer and the smoke was only getting worse.
I took the Shoe Lake alternate route and although it was gorgeous and there was an erie beauty to it with the smoke, it would have been more beautiful without the smoke, as would everything I imagine.
I think those who flipped to Oregon to avoid the snow in the Sierra got the best views, with the least amount of snow travel. They were smart. They went through Oregon and possibly Washington without fires and smoky obstructed views. When they returned to the Sierra, the beauty of unfrozen lakes, wildflowers and green Meadows were at their peak. I’m a bit envious of the sites they were able to see. My experience in the Sierra encompassed one frozen lake after another, one snow field after another. However, I wouldn’t change my decision if I could because I gained so much from my experience in the Sierra.
September 8, 2017
Day 127: Mile 2324.7 to White’s Pass
Yet another fire closure day. I was forced from the trail at White’s Pass. At first, the trail was only closed at Chinook Pass, but the fire moved farther south and eventually closed at White’s Pass. So, those of us who didn’t beat the fire, were forced from the trail. Finding rides around this fire closure was quite the cluster…!