Sunday, September 18, 2011

Who is reading?

Hello bloggies and blogites! I have been diligently keeping you informed of my latest happenings along the trail for the past 5 months and I wanted to make a request of those who have been reading my blog: leave a comment on one post that you particularly enjoyed, found interesting, or that made you think about something in your own life differently. Thanks, I truly appreciate it!

September 15, 2011

Start: 2319
End: 2347

Today started with a wet tent, although I don't think it actually rained. I guess that's what happens when you sleep in a cloud-forest.

After shaking out the fly and getting packed up, we hit the trail, and for the first time in almost 200 miles it actually felt like I was hiking in the great state of Washington. Views were limited to a couple hundred feet, everything was wet with dew, and we were decked out in our rain gear. The situation didn't change much throughout the day, although we did see a few sun breaks with one actually passing across us for a brief moment. Despite being gray all day, it was still good. Perhaps my opinion will change, but for now, the gray is not so bad.

Sent from the PCT

September 14, 2011

Start: 2303
End: 2319

It was a leisurely morning as 12 Ounce and I sorted through our food, ate breakfast, and made some gear adjustments before getting back to the trail around 11am.

The first miles went smoothly and we talked to a couple weekenders, continued on, and ran into a couple of my coworkers who were in the planning stages of replacing a trail bridge. It's always fun to run into new people and talk to them and see what they are up to, whether they are day hikers, weekenders, section hikers, or other thrus. Some people just get it, while others, well, not so much. The people that "get" why we are thru hiking are usually the most fun to talk to because they have their own stories or dreams of hiking somewhere on the PCT. The people we saw today definitely got it.

The plan for today was to get in 20 miles, but plans have a way of changing unexpectedly. After lunch at Pipeline Lake we set out hiking again and were headed North, when a couple of wrong turns had us near Jug Lake, a couple miles from the PCT. After some GPS locating and looking at the map, we figured out the direction we needed to go and ended up doing a nice alternate route by Jug Lake and Fryingpan Lake before reuniting with the PCT. It was nice to get back to a familiar trail and get going the right direction again.

After a few more miles we neared Fish Lake and started to see a change in the weather. Clouds were rolling in from the west, and for the first time it actually started to feel like Washington. The temperatures have dropped a bit lately and the incoming clouds completed the transition. A couple miles more up the trail it was getting dark so we set up camp near Free Range and another couple for the night. Tomorrow the goal will be to make up some miles we missed out on today.

Sent from the PCT

September 13, 2011

Start: 2280
End: 2303

"Oh my goodness!"
"This is amazing!"
These are three of the things I repeated often today as we continued to hike through the Goat Rocks Wilderness.

It all started this morning as we were packing up camp near the headwaters of the Cispus River. We looked across fields of lupine to the West and saw Mt St Helens glowing with the first hint of sunlight on it's crater lip, while the near full moon lingered just above. As we climbed out of the meadow we were treated to views of our second volcano of the day, Mt Adams. Adams also had the early morning glow from the sun rays striking it's snowy flanks. Then it was snowgrass flats, followed by yet another volcano (Rainier) and up and up until we were perched at the top of the knife edge ridge near Old Snowy Mtn. I could go on and on, but I really shouldn't. I will simply say that if you have a free day or weekend you should go for a hike up to Snowgrass Flat. Do it! I promise, you'll like it (pending weather of course).

Sent from the PCT

September 12, 2011

Start: 2249
End: 2280

We made our way today from the west side of Mt Adams up into the Goat Rocks Wilderness today. We had some nice views of Mt Adams in the morning, and could even just make out the faint silhouette of Mt Rainier through the smokey haze. Soon after, we entered some dense forest and didn't have much variation in hiking other than trees which had fallen across the trail that we had to climb over, duck under, or walk around.

Just at the end of this section we passed a trail junction to Wahtum Lake, and then began to climb up toward Nannie Ridge and into the heart of the Goat Rocks Wilderness.

I have been eager to get to the Goat Rocks for a while now. For a couple years I have been wanting to get up here to see a part of the GP that people rave about. It is also one of the favorite places on the entire trail for PCT thru-hikers. As soon as we crossed over the next ridge I could see why.

The last few miles were almost magical as we made our way over Cispus Pass by moonlight and found a soft grassy place to camp in a meadow. Can't wait to see the rest of Goat Rocks tomorrow!

Sent from the PCT

September 11, 2011

Start: 2222
End: 2249

Today we woke up surrounded by huckleberry bushes, because that is where we chose to camp. Within a mile of hiking we had two unexpected, but fun, encounters. The first was when we saw Billy Goat (hiking legend) heading up the trail towards us. We stopped and talked with him for a little bit, and during our conversation he mentioned that he has hiked every mile of the PCT eight times, and over 40,000 miles total! What an incredible and humble man. He told us, "There isn't going to be the Marine Corps band playing for you at the border. You have to enjoy the trail between here and there, that's the good part."

Just after meeting him we came to the 24 Road and ran into two people getting things out of a car. The moment they saw us they asked if we were thru-hikers, and then they proceeded to invite us over to the trail magic they were just setting up. I ate some fruit and a Krispy Kreme (the first and probably only of the trip). After a short time there we moved on so we could keep on pace to meet up with Gangsta Rap at the 23 Road.

The rest of the morning's hiking was pleasant and we got to the road just in time to see Free Range, and meet up with Gangsta Rap while enjoying lunch.

After lunch the three of us hiked on and up toward Mt Adams, still mostly covered in snow, and found a place to camp. Some day I would like to climb Adams, but maybe not til next year.

Sent from the PCT

September 10, 2011

Start: 2197
End: 2222

Today's hiking started with a few miles to and past Big Huckleberry Mountain. We then descended to a spring, refilled our water, and made our way toward Indian Heaven Wilderness.

Upon reaching the wilderness boundary, there were a number of cars parked by the road, not unusual for a Saturday, but one was a Forest Service vehicle, which is more unusual. A few miles up the trail by Sheep Lakes, I ran into Rick McClure (archaeologist on the GP) and chatted with him a little about the hike. He was out leading an archaeological hike about the area, specifically the Indian Race Track.

After lunch at Green Lake, we headed on further, only to discover mosquitos. It wasn't much of a surprise, but they were still just as unwelcome. We sped through the remainder of the wilderness, camping just before the road.

Tomorrow, we meet back up with Gangsta Rap and will hike with her to the border!

Sent from the PCT

September 9, 2011

Start: 2170
End: 2197

Today we got going around 6:45, knowing we had 16 miles to go to get to Wind River where my coworkers were waiting.

The first few miles were easy down to Rock Creek, but then we turned right around and climbed back up another hill before descending once again to Wind River.

From the first few miles I could tell that it was going to be a hot day. It was already a pleasant temperature at 6am, and the humidity hung thick in the air. I'll be the first to admit that I don't like hot, humid weather, but I do prefer it to 40 degrees and raining, as it's likely to do in Washington in September. All I can hope is that the good weather lasts a little longer.

We got to Wind River right at 1pm, but unfortunately most of my coworkers had been there earlier, eaten lunch and moved on before I made it there. Such is life on the trail. A couple of people were still around and still had some food so we took advantage of that treat before heading on. Thanks!

After Wind River, as we approached Panther Creek, we ran into a day hiker sitting next to a tree. She was smiling and we asked her how her hike was going. She said she wasn't out for much of a hike, but rather had come to sit by her favorite tree, which happened to be a large cedar. As we conversed she told us of the Singing Alive workshop where she went to sing to plants and trees with other like minded, and spirited, people. From that experience she came to the realization that she had never asked her favorite tree what her song was. So she had come out that day to ask the tree and listen. It was an interesting experience. Thank you Saliha (Sah-Lee-Hah)

After Panther Creek we started a climb up Big Huckleberry Mountain. It was hot and getting late in the evening so we set up camp a few miles from the top of the climb. It was a good day.

Sent from the PCT

September 8, 2011

Start: 2155 (Cascade Locks)
End: 2170

Today we began the journey anew, after sleeping in and eating breakfast, of course. We got back to the trail at 11:30am and proceeded to walk across the Bridge of the Gods. It was pretty cool to walk across (for free) and look up and down the gorge, and down through the steel grating of the bridge itself, high above the water below. Once on the other side we headed West along Hwy 14 toward Gillette Lake before eventually turning more northward and gaining elevation. With our packs loaded down with Washington gear (different tent and more warm clothes), as well as six days of food, we took the climb nice and easy, getting in a good 15 miles for the day.

Tomorrow it's on to Wind River Work Center (Forest Service) where some of my coworkers are going to be putting on a little lunch potluck in my honor! It's going to be fun to see them after more than four months! (although I'm pretty sure I'm going to be the one who looks the most different.)

Sent from the PCT

September 7, 2011

Zero day

Today, although a zero day, was nonetheless not all that relaxing. I spent the day swapping out gear for other stuff and buying, packaging, and mailing food boxes ahead for the rest of the trip. It's crazy to think I will be in Canada in three weeks... All the way from Mexico.

I'm really looking forward to seeing the trail in Washington up close and personal. I've only heard good things about the scenery (but the weather may be a different story).

Sent from the PCT

September 6, 2011

September 6, 2011

Start: ?? Dee
End: 2155 (about 30 miles to Cascade Locks)

Thank goodness the day is over, it was a rough one. It began nice and early, around 5:30am, which meant about 6 hours of sleep. Not enough for this thru-hiker.
We walked up the rest of the asphalt road, a couple miles, to where the road transitioned to gravel. From there we walked up the road about 10 miles to Rainy Lake where the gravel road turned into a rocky trail; although this did not happen without incident. During the gravel road walk we took one wrong fork and ended up walking an extra 3/4 mile past the correct fork to the end of the incorrect fork where we found ourselves at Black Lake. Since we were there and it seemed like a nice enough lake, we ate lunch and refilled our water before backtracking and going the right direction.

Once back on track we hiked up to a junction where there was a little shelter and, after a short break with a little iPhone research, we decided on a different route that was more direct to Cascade Locks. We took a side trail down to the Herman Creek Trail and followed that down the gorge where we caught a one mile connector trail to the PCT and then Cascade Locks. It was quite a nice hike down, but by the time we got within 5 miles I was ready to be done and eat some food as well as enjoy the next day without hiking. After the past four days I think that it was perfectly reasonable.

After eating a giant burger, onion rings, milkshake, and pie, my mom drove me back to Portland where I would spend the night. Aside from being tired, it was a strange feeling to be driving back to where the trip began. It felt almost as if the trip were over, even though I knew it wasn't. It certainly didn't feel quite right, whatever it was. Perhaps it's just tiredness.

Sent from the PCT

September 5, 2011

Start: 2007
End: ?? Dee (about 31 miles)

Today we started the Dollar Lake Fire Detour. From Timberline Lodge the detour took us back to the Timberline Trail, then East down and up three glacial river canyons to Gnarl Ridge, which, as anticipated from the name, was pretty gnarly looking. Along the way we also walked through Mt Hood Meadows ski area, which was pretty cool! At the Gnarl Ridge trail junction we ran into two day hikers, neither wearing shirts. They were an older couple from the Columbia River Gorge area, who enjoyed hiking around Hood. They were pretty into the fact that we were hiking the whole trail, and as usual they got a kick out of 12 Ounce's name. The husband of the couple said he was going to have a 12 oz can as soon as he got back home.

After that encounter, we took the ridge down to the Elk Meadows trail, following that down to Polallie TH. From there we had a 9 mile road walk along Hwy 35 to Parkdale, then turned onto Hwy 281 toward Dee for another few miles, and finally stopped hiking around 10:45pm when we found some fruit crates along the side of the road to hide behind while we slept. It was the first night on the trail that I felt like I was homeless, but the gravel pullout was surprising comfortable when you're tired. I also got blisters for the first time in 1600 miles due to walking so many detour miles on asphalt.

Not looking forward to waking up early and hiking more roads. Ugh.

Sent from the PCT

Saturday, September 17, 2011

September 4, 2011

Start: 2094.5
End: 2007

I was stiff and sore this morning. Not all that surprising considering what I willingly put my body through yesterday. It didn't exactly feel good, but at the same time gave me a lasting feeling of my accomplishment.

After eating a quick poptart breakfast we hobbled onto the trail and made our way toward US Hwy 26 to the Frog Lake trailhead where my parents were meeting us with food! We arrived right on time and, as promised, they had all sorts of snacks.

After the delicious snack break, my mom joined us in hiking the remaining miles to Timberline Lodge. The first segment of the day took us 6 miles to Barlow Pass, just before the Hwy 35 crossing. There, my parents were hosting some trail magic that included homemade cookies, handrolled sushi, sodas, and beer. We also stopped here to eat some snacks before pushing the final miles up to Timberline Lodge. They went pretty easy, except for the last couple which were on sand. As you may have guessed by now, there also happened to be food at Timberline Lodge! There was a farmer's market lunch buffet which we took full advantage of, drinking some beer to wash it down.

While at Timberline Lodge we found out some unfortunate news. The trail on the North side of Mt Hood was closed due to a wildfire, so we would have to detour around the East side. We didn't worry too much about it at the time and headed down the mountain with my parents to relax the rest of the day and stay the night in Welches. It was just what we needed: to not wear packs, and get our feet up for a little while.

Thank you mom and dad!!

Sent from the PCT

September 3, 2011

Start: 2044.5
End: 2094.5

Last night was not exactly as restful as one would hope. Strong winds started up around midnight, tearing a tent stake out of the ground, and leaving the tent falling and flapping on our faces. We tried to sleep a little longer, and at 3:30am we got up, ate breakfast, packed up, and were on the trail at 4:15am to begin our attempt at a 44 mile day.

The stars were amazing, brightest of the trail, and we tried to enjoy them while simultaneously using our headlamps to see the trail ahead, so as not to trip. After about 8 miles we got to Ollalie Lake and attempted to go to the store, which said opened at 7am, but apparently not on Labor Day Weekend. Strange. It was a little bit of a bummer since I was hoping to pick up a couple more candy bars for the day.

After Ollalie we got back on the trail and continued on, mostly through forest for the rest of the day, including a section through the Warm Springs Indian Reservation. We took a 30 minute "lunch" break after 22 miles, while on the Reservation before continuing on.

About 38 miles into our day, we reached Clackamas Lake. It was 5:45pm, and we both had the same thought: what if we go for 50 miles instead of 44? We both liked the idea, and planned out where we would now be heading for that night. By the time we got to Timothy Lake, we were both starting to drag a bit; everything was stiff and a little sore, but we were determined. We continued on to where we originally planned to camp (mile 44) and had a snack before starting an 800 foot climb over the final 6 miles. The last part we didn't speak much, just trudged up the trail. Once we accomplished the goal, we set up camp and proceeded to pass out. It was one of those days when you are sore before you even wake up the next morning. But we triumphed! And the pain we feel is only temporary compared to the memories that will last a lifetime.

Sent from the PCT

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

September 2, 2011

Start: 2022
End: 2044.5

What a glorious day! Since we only planned to do 22 miles today, we slept in until 7:30 before getting moving, and finally made it to the trail around 8:30.

We had views of Mt Jefferson for the majority of the day as we passed along it's West flank. Along the way we also ran into many groups of weekend hikers. Not all that surprising since it is the beginning of Labor Day Weekend.

We stopped by a little lakelet for lunch, and while there we talked with a smokejumper for a little bit. He and his crew had parachuted in last night around 6pm and took care of a small fire burning a little ways north of where we were. When I asked him how close the fire was to the PCT, he said about 100 feet. So I guess my post from yesterday was incorrect, but in my defense, the fire was only a few meters in diameter.

Just before the end of hiking for the day we crossed over a ridge, saying goodbye to the panoramic view of Mt Jefferson and getting our first good view of Mt Hood. We could even just make out the silhouette of Mt St Helens in the distance! It would have been a better view had there not been smoke from some other fire obscuring the view with its haze. The good thing about the smoke is that it makes for some amazing sunsets!

Sent from the PCT

September 1, 2011

Start: 2007
End: 2022

Today started in a similar manner to yesterday, but finished in a more productive way. Yesterday, a friend of 12 Ounce, Hilary, came over to Bend to visit, and the three of us slept in and went out to breakfast before going back to Mat's house to pack up our gear. Hilary was kind enough to give us a ride back to the trail on her way back to Newport. She even hiked a few miles with us! Thanks Hilary!

After we parted ways, 12 Ounce and I continued up the trail past Three Finger Jack, and on to Rockpile Mountain. Since we got a bit of a late start, we camped at Rockpile Lake after only 15 miles. It is really nice to get to camp early and just hang out for a bit before getting bundled in the tent. There are also much fewer bothersome bugs here, which makes it possible to hang out outside of the tent!

Along the hike today we caught glimpses of the Three Sisters, Mt Washington and Mt Jefferson, as well as a wildfire that is burning NE of Mt Washington. We also heard there is a wildfire burning in the Mt Jefferson Wilderness (our current location) but not near the PCT.

Tomorrow we expect to get in a few more miles than today and set ourselves up for an attempt at a 44 mile day. Should be interesting!

Sent from the PCT

August 31, 2011

Zero day in Bend

Usually zero days in town are spent doing various things, like buying food for the next leg, uploading pictures, and similar tasks. This was not the usual zero day. The goal for today was to do as little as possible, and I think we did a pretty good job in accomplishing that goal. Aside from eating our way through Bend, we hung out in a park by the river, went to the farmer's market, and watched part of a movie before falling asleep around 10:30pm. It was great, and I could easily do it again tomorrow, but the trail calls me back into the wild.

Thanks to Mat for hosting us while in Bend! The break from the trail was just what we needed!

Sent from the PCT

August 30, 2011

Start: 1982
End: 2007

Today we woke up, and much to our surprise, the liquid water near where we camped had frozen! It didn't feel all that cold, but apparently the temps are beginning to drop. We got an early start at 6:15 and headed down to Lava Lake CG/TH where we heard there was trail magic. There we came across a mesh net tent setup with sodas, beer, and snacks. We enjoyed some of the offerings and talked with the trail angel Lost-and-Found.

We continued on through a large lava field with views of Mt Washington to the North, and the Three Sisters to the South. We made our way toward Mt Washington, where we ate lunch at the bottom of a downhill trail section. After lunch we cruised through the rest of the miles to get to Hwy 20 where we planned to meet our ride.

Mat Barnett, a fellow engineer for the Forest Service, picked us up and drove us into town where we stopped in at REI before heading to dinner at BBC (Bend Brewing Company). It was great to have food prepared for us, instead of using our one-pot, alcohol-stove cooking methods. We then went back to Mat's place where we got cleaned up and did some laundry before falling asleep... In a bed! Great way to start the short break in Bend! Thank Mat!

Sent from the PCT