8/17- Day 13- 32 miles
Camped by a stream right outside Indian Heaven Wilderness
I’m pooped, so not going to write too much. Another long and adventurous day on the PCT. I am in my happy place.
The day began early as usual- and I witnessed another perfect sky with Adams towering above me. The Mt Adams Wilderness is one of my favorite sections of trail- with Lava rock, alpine meadows dotted with Lupine and Castilleja, and gushing creeks and streams from the melting snow on the volcano.
There is a spring that comes from the lava rock when you are first entering the wilderness that has the best water I have ever tasted. Hands down. Then, later there is small a cascading waterfall that where you can collect water at the top of the falls- with Adams all the while towering above you.
I think out of the Cascade range volcanoes, Adams may be my favorite. Rainier is giant and intimidating looking- like a Greek God or something, Hood is a bit too sexy looking with a pointed peak and twisting glaciers. Jefferson is lovely, but Adams- Adams is portly and solid and makes me stand in awe but also feel sheltered and excited to explore. It is definitely one for peak bagger bucket list.
Other than the magnificent fields of wildflowers, checkerspot butterflies, grazing deer and bounding woodpeckers and sapsuckers, the trail brought me past burned forest and then wooded forest to the town of Trout Lake. There, I inhaled the towns famous huckleberry milkshake, a garden burger and side salad and picked up a resupply package. Back on trail by 6 pm and I trudged up 1,000 feet to rest by a stream and await tomorrow’s adventures.
Met Lemony Snicket and Jam, Coyote and Kayo, plus an assortment of thru hikers in Trout Lake. All in all, another long and gratifying day on the PCT.
8/18 45 miles
The morning offered solitude, but also a bit of eeriness in the quiet, thick forest. I kept thinking about that horribly frightening film, the Blair Witch Project. The forest felt more silent than usual- no crickets or birds, the stars were obscured by the tree canopy and it was a new moon. I kept dodging toads on the trail underfoot, and then heard some load snapping of branches off trail and noticed giant elk grazing beside me in the early twighlight.
Thankfully, lightness came and more climbing and zen walking through thick forested mountains, but now with more comfort and ease since the night was behind me. As dawn hit, I emerged into some beautiful plateaus of Indian Heaven Wilderness.
There, i found some nice views of Adams, Hood up ahead and Helens to the west. And let myself wander through the arid, golden wilderness without a care in the world.
Next was a long traverse through southern Washington and lake after lake after deep blue lake, which was quite lovely and also difficult to stop myself from wanting to just swim and relax at one of these lakes all day. Still, the bugs were a good deterrent and I had my sights set on camping past the Panther Creek basin.
So, after one big push up 1.500 feet, and a nice view of Adams, began a long descent to near sea level and the Panther Creek/ Wind River basins, which were green and jungle like, and found a nice place to camp at Salmon Creek just at the base of my next 2,500 foot climb tomorrow. I am feeling the long miles and often rocky trail of Washington, and soaked my feet in the stream as the sun began to fade. Now, in my tent, I am complete, as my friend Scott would say.
8/19 30 miles
Today was a roller coaster of elevation with big, sharp rocky trail with few views and lots of dirt road road and timber forest crossings. Fun times.
The day began with a long 2,500 foot climb with no view and then a long descent to lovely Rock Creek. In my descent, I met a few hikers who had a very close encounter with a mountain lion and they excitedly told me their tales of fright and excitement. These encounters remind us that we can be prey, and not always in total control of the world around us.
After a bridge over the creek was yet another 2,300 foot climb in the forest over just about 4 miles. Ouch. If I wasn’t feeling the push to peak Mt Snowy and the 45 miler from yesterday, I would be a bit more enthused about the stair climber action. Oh well. I met a pretty deer along the climb and we gazed at each other for quite a while, then I moved along- towards Oregon and the Bridge of the Gods.
I was rewarded in this second climb by beautiful views of Adams, Helens and Rainier. These massive mountains now fading to the background as I complete my 505.5 mile journey from Canada to Oregon. The descent to the Bridge over the Columbia gorge was actually a bit painful- something I had forgotten about because in the past I have done the descent in the morning with fresh legs. There were relentless sharp rocks peppering the trail, and I began swearing under my breath and muttering, ‘I’m ready for this part to be over!’
But in time, just as everything does, the trail finally leveled and the rocky part ended with just 1.5 miles left to the bridge. Phew. I felt a wave of relief and gratitude for my body that brought me clear across the state of Washington for the fourth time. I arrived in town, sweaty and smelly and ready for a shower, leaving the rocks and heat, but also the peace and quiet of the mountains behind for a spell in exchange for the creature comforts of a hot shower, comfortable bed and coffee maker. I’ll rest up for a couple of days here in Cascade Locks, OR before tackling my next 455.5 miles. I’m excited for the next chapter, and grateful for the last.