The completion of Washington left me feeling like my backyard had been explored. Further adventures on the PCT would now require more planning and coordination with rides and time off from work. My time on the trail in 2014 gave me the opportunity to meet some fantastic people- one of which was gracious enough to meet us super late in the evening to drive us to the beginning of Section G. Smitty- thank you very much!
The first night consisted of a 3 mile walk to a camp further away from people. There was a slight incline but it the mileage was easy. My pack was fully loaded with food and water but was only 16lbs- the campsite was about the halfway mark between the highway and Timberline lodge with lots of volcanic sand starting just after. I made it a few minutes in my tent before falling asleep. The drive down after work was enough to tire me out quite well.
I had no idea that Timberline Lodge was located right off of the trail so when we saw it appear out of the fog and rain, we jumped at the opportunity to get some water and coffee. For those that have not been here before- Timberline Lodge offers an amazing buffet in the morning which hikers tend to feast on. The coffee was worth the $15 alone- I doubt that I will ever have coffee that tasted quite as good as they served. We were cold and fairly miserable as it was foggy, rainy, and windy so this boosted our spirits quite well.
(photo Credit goes to Jordan for this shot)
After spending 50min dreading the cold and enjoying the warmth- we continued onward. As the day progressed, it kept on raining harder and harder.
There have been recent discoveries about this effect that water has on fingers- it appears to be evolutionary to help us grab onto things when immersed in water. In this case- it made my hands feel odd and I don’t think it was necessary for my trekking poles- but good on ya evolution… I guess.
Besides this crossing and a couple other streams, this section was without many larger bodies of water. The sections in Washington all held plentiful lakes along the way but I guess this section could be good during mosquito season. Crossing this river took a little planning and wishful thinking. We made it safe and sound.
After a while, we finally got a break in the rain. It was pretty and quite nice to have a break from the downpour. The weather forecast called it correctly when they said it would start to clear up in the late afternoon. We had hoped for this to happen as we did not want to camp in the rain. Hauling wet gear is not fun, sleeping in wet gear can be fatal.
We ended the day at 27.5mi- only 1.5mi short of my longest day on the trail. The light packs help a lot and so does the bike commuting that I have been doing recently. As winter approaches- we also were operating on a shorter daylight clock so it was getting dark as we setup camp.
The following morning consisted of a lot of fog which collected on the trees and made it rain on us- it wasn’t a great way to start but it started to clear up as the day progressed.
It was good to see familiar mountains from this opening- We could see Mt. St Helens, and Mt. Adams and Rainier off in the distance. We were mainly happy to be out of the fog. This is nearing the point where most PCTers hike down into the Eagle Creek area. After much debate we ended up missing the trail which cemented our plan to hike the official route (5mi longer too). I hope to come back and do a loop of Eagle Creek and another trail that connects two canyons- the Columbia River has amazing cliffs from the lava flows of the past which end up creating amazing waterfalls.
Two miles later- we rounded a corner and got a full shot of Mount Hood- we hiked on the side of it the previous day but had no visibility which was a big bummer as we could only imagine how nice the views were.
We finally got our first glimpse of the Columbia- a good sign that our hike was coming to a close. It was getting warm at this point and we had no water for ~8mi, any warmer and we would have had some issues with what water we had left.
The trail resembled Fern Gully as we descended towards the river- found a salamander and this little guy.
And a little further down the trail- we finished. With creaky knees, damp clothing, and a long drive ahead of us we quickly changed into clean clothes and drove North. We only did 25.5mi on the final day but the descent was a brutal one. 55mi in less than 45 hours with ~9kft elevation gain was a good amount to accomplish.
I did not ride my bike to work the next day.
Happy Trails everyone- looking forward to exploring more of Oregon soon!