That’s a Wrap, Oregon

Sisters, OR to Cascade Locks, OR

A good friend asked me, “what do you think about all day while hiking?”  My mind wanders all over the place.  Much of the time Kilo and I are singing the jingles to local Los Angeles TV commercials - “Come to Tito’s Tacos...”. and “Celino and Barnes injury attorneys call 888-8888.”  Or I am thinking, “wow, I need new shoes.  These have no more traction.  Don’t trip.  Watch out for that rock.  Ugh, I have sand in my socks.”  I am always curious about where other hikers we have met currently are on the trail.  Often I think about what life after the trail will be like.  Where will we live?  What will we do?  Sometimes random childhood memories will pop into my mind.  And sometimes I think about our friends and family doing normal summertime activities like going to the beach or going to a wedding, and how clean they are in their Instagram pictures and the nice clothes they are wearing.  There are times when I think about nothing at all other than breathing and putting one foot in front of the other.  

I went to check out of our hotel room in Sisters and the employee working gave me a good pep talk.  “You are doing something most people will never do.  You are LIVING,” he enthusiastically proclaimed.  YES, I am!  I confidentially marched out of the hotel lobby and down the street with Kilo to hitch a ride. I maybe had my thumb out for two minutes when Kimberly stopped to pick us up (I honestly thought that hitch would take a lot longer).  What an amazing woman.  At the age of 50 she took a mountaineering class and has been doing technical mountain climbs ever since (I am not sure how old she is now). She recently retired from a job in Seattle and moved to Sisters, OR.  She lives within the National Park boundary and every morning she goes mountain biking from her back yard.  I hope I remain as active as Kimberly when I get older.  The ride to the trailhead went by so fast because she had so many interesting stories.  When we left Sisters, it was a sunny 80 degrees and warming.  When we arrived at the trailhead, we were in thick fog and the car thermometer said 62 degrees.  Great hiking weather.  We did an easy ten miles today since we were coming out of town.  We had great views of Three Finger Jack and Mt Jefferson (more volcanoes).  We even saw mountain goats climbing the side of Three Finger Jack.  We pitched our tent near a pond (with no mosquitos for the record) and bundled up for the night.  Storm clouds rolled in and rain started just as we finished dinner.  I guess we should not be surprised it is raining.  This is the Pacific NorthWest. 

We awoke to thick fog and a wet tent.  The fog was so thick we could not see the lake that was maybe 25 feet from our tent.  The fog lifted fast and was gone by the time we broke down camp.  We hiked through the Jefferson Wilderness with amazing views of Mt. Jefferson.  For the first time on Trail a forest ranger asked to see our PCT permit.  We were in a restricted zone in which there is no camping and no hiking without a permit as they are trying to protect against erosion.  We were 5.8 miles from camp for the night when once again dark clouds started to roll in.  Once it began to thunder we quickened our pace.  We knew we would not make the originally planned 5.8 miles before the storm hit and the rain started, so we decided to camp at a spot just three miles away.  We made it to camp, set up our tent and threw everything inside just as it started to rain.  

When we first woke up I thought it might be a sunny day.  We packed up camp and immediately had a stream crossing which we crossed via a log.  We maybe walked another mile before the fog rolled in and it began raining.  It rained steadily for about five miles as we walked through a burnt forest.  There was another pretty intense stream crossing.  We had to walk up stream to find a spot to cross on rocks.  The rain finally stopped and we crossed into the Mt Hood Wilderness.  As we did, we had to cross two snow fields.  Snow in mid-August.  As we began the trek down the other side of the mountain, we saw a number of Southbound hikers that said we would hit trail magic in a couple of miles.  That definitely put a spring in our step.  Sure enough, we hit trail magic.  OG and crew cooked us up cheeseburgers and they had soda and candy.  It was a great break, but we had to keep moving.  Our next destination for the day was Lake Olallie.  There was a small general store (with no electricity) at the lake where we were able to pick up some additional snacks for the upcoming days along with a couple of beers to drink with dinner.  The resort at Lake Olallie allows PCT hikers to camp in the Day Use area after 6pm for free....and it was packed!  We definitely hit the Southbound bubble as most of the campers were headed south. 

It poured rain all through the night, but ended just as we had to get up for the day.  It was tough to get out of the tent this morning.  It was cold and wet and we did not get much sleep because of the sound of the rain on the tent.  We finally made it back to the trail around 8am.  We hit 25 miles for the day before we decided to camp.  It was cold all day.  I never took my rain pants and long sleeved shirt off.  The chillier weather actually made for great hiking weather.  

The next morning was cold again making it once again hard to get out of the tent. Condensation was all over our sleeping bags and everything inside the tent was wet.  Once we finally got moving the day warmed up.  We hiked around Timothy Lake to Little Crater Lake.  Little Crater Lake was an amazingly clear lake formed by a spring and erosion.  It is over 45 feet deep and only 34 degrees in temperature. The water was so clear you could see the trees that had fallen into the lake and were resting on the bottom.  We had a 3 mile uphill climb after the lake and at the top we were surprised with trail magic.  Mad Baker was making burritos.  I had a bean and cheese burrito, a Dr. Pepper and some sour gummy worms.  A great second lunch.  We set off from the trail magic with another ten miles to go before camp.  We maybe made it five miles before we hit trail magic again.  This time, for dinner, I had a hot dog, two PBRs, a King Size Kit Kat, and about 25 red vines.  This was great because it was getting late and now we did not have to worry about stopping to cook dinner.  We got into camp, which had a picnic table and port-o-potty, around 8pm to find Iceman already there.  We last saw Iceman right as we entered Oregon.  We fell asleep dreaming about the buffet breakfast we would eat the next morning at Timberline Lodge. 

Apparently food is our best motivation.  We were up at 5am and on the trail by 6:25am.  We hiked 5.4 miles, all uphill, in just two hours.  The final mile right below Timberline Lodge was straight up, in sand.  We had amazing views of Mt. Hood.  People were even skiing on a small patch of snow on the mountain.  We immediately went to the dining room for the breakfast buffet.  They had chocolate chip pancakes that were amazing.  I had five.  Plus some sausage, fruit, and some pastries.  The breakfast was all we had hoped and dreamed it would be.  Afterwards we sat out in the lobby of the lodge charging all of our electronics and digesting our food for about two hours.  We still had about 15 miles left to hike so around 11am we decided to get moving.  We took a brief alternate trail that walked through meadows sprinkled with wild flowers and more amazing views of Mt. Hood (although I was not too happy that it was all uphill post large meal).  And then we took another PCT alternate trail to see Ramona waterfalls.  After the waterfalls I was beat.  Unfortunately we had another 2 plus miles straight up hill.  The day started with a massive climb and ended with a massive climb.  As we got into camp and finished cooking dinner it started getting dark.  The days are getting shorter.  

I slept until 6am this morning.  We hit the trail around 8.  The forest was eerily quiet this morning.  No sounds from other hikers, no wind blowing, no birds chirping.  Just the sound of our breathing.  That changed later in the day as we encountered more Southbound hikers, and as we got closer to Portland we could hear the planes from the airport.  We could see both Mt. Rainier and Mt. St. Helens from Washington today.  We are so close to completing Oregon.  We could also see below us, the damage from the fire that destroyed the Columbia River Gorge in 2017.  There is an option to take a PCT alternate trail that goes through the Gorge by Tunnel Falls, but unfortunately it was closed due to the fire damage.  We could see burnt forests for miles down into the Gorge.  Having been to the Gorge several years ago when it was vibrant and green, this was heartbreaking.  Up where we were, the forest was so dense, so thick.  In the sun, it was well into the 80s today.  But when we walked under the canopy of thick pine trees the temperature dropped at least 20 degrees.  We worked our way around Wahtum Lake and camped about a mile up.  We have 15 miles left to hike in Oregon tomorrow. 

Whenever I set the alarm to wake up early I never sleep well through the night because I am waiting for the alarm to go off.  The alarm came at 4:30 and we were out of camp by 6am (we do not move very fast in the mornings).  We had a 6.6 mile climb, and then 8 miles straight down into Cascade Locks.  We arrived at the Bridge of the Gods by Noon.  It was a beautiful sunny day so we wanted to take pictures on the bridge.  We crossed over into Washington.  Walking this bridge may have been the most dangerous part of the PCT thus far.  There is no sidewalk.  Pedestrians walk on the road against traffic and pray the drivers coming at you are paying attention.  To make the walk more exciting it was so windy that the wind was literally picking the beast (my backpack) and I up...not good when a semi truck or RV is driving right at you.  We walked over to Washington and then back to Oregon.  Before we continue on to Washington, we are staying with our good friends Angela and Charlie for two nights.  We finally get to see their new house and meet their son.  We waited for Charlie to pick us up at the Thunder Island Brewery in Cascade Locks.  That was our 13th brewery on the PCT Craft Brewery Tour of 2019.  We are excited for a small rest and time with friends before tackling Washington!

Kristy Woodward2 Comments