Day 129 // 26.8 miles PCT mile 2130.8 Total miles: 1609.7
Cheer and I headed out around 7:30 today, excited for some of the sights ahead!
The area near Mt. Hood was full of lush forests, perfect for listening to the new Bon Iver album. And we were also stoked to take a short alternate trail leading to Ramona Falls.
We bumped into a few Timberline Trail hikers as we made our way down towards a decent river crossing. I had read some comments about this one being gnarly in the evening, but thankfully we were reaching it early in the day, and it wasn't too difficult to find the crossing spot. A few logs had been strategically positioned to make a little bridge.
We caught up with Stitch and Rag Doll on the other side of the crossing and started making our way towards the falls.
After weaving through the woods a bit, the trail turned a corner and we could see the incredibly beautiful Ramona Falls.
The water was cascading down around the rock formation, making the whole thing almost look like lace. It's definitely one of the most striking waterfalls I've ever seen.
Cheer and I fired up our stoves to sit and enjoy some hot chocolate. I think Stitch and Rag Doll were a little jealous - I think they are both hiking stoveless. We also said hello to a weekend hiker with a HUGE pack. That thing had to have been at least 90L... RIP to that guy's feet.
After our break, we HAD to film another goofy "Maid of the Mist" episode before moving on.
We hiked another mile or so towards where we would rejoin the PCT, crossing a few rivers (with bridges/logs, thankfully).
After our last crossing, we hit a steep climb and started the long trudge uphill. Near a little stream, we saw our friend with the giant pack again, heading north. He paused when he saw us, a bit confused.
"Wait - are you guys heading south or north?" he asked us. We told him we were heading north, and he confessed that he had thought he was heading south toward Timberline Lodge. Poor guy. He had gotten turned around at where the Ramona Falls trail meets the PCT. We showed him where to go on Guthooks and wished him well.
Cheer and I pushed on towards the top of the climb. It was a sweaty one, that's for sure. Nearing another junction, I saw a dog running around, apparently without an owner. A SOBO guy named Copperfield was at the junction drying his stuff, but he didn't know who the dog belonged to.
The poor pup was darting down each trail by the junction, searching for his owner, then returning to the junction after each unsuccessful attempt. I heard a group of day hikers approaching, but the dog wasn't theirs either. We were all kind of concerned, but after about 5 more minutes, his owner came around the corner. We were all glad everything was okay. Lost hikers, lost dogs. Interesting day.
Near the top of the climb, we got some spectacular views of Mt. Hood again.
As we headed down towards a trailhead, my stomach started to growl. I was ready for lunch, but I also knew that we should probably find a spot with some sunshine to dry out the condensation on our tents. I kept going through an open field with some powerlines, looking for a prettier spot.
I caught up to Stitch and Rag Doll finishing their lunches near a stream that had some patches of sunlight. Cheer wasn't far behind, and we took a nice siesta.
We still had a decently far way to go since we were shooting for Wahtum Lake. We didn't really feel like dry camping, so we had decided to push on a little further and get within striking distance of Cascade Locks for tomorrow.
The trail took us up and around the aptly named Huckleberry Mountain, and I ate SO many fresh berries today. I had to force myself to stop pausing to munch on them because I knew we had a long way to go.
The afternoon was pretty hot and tiring, but I put on another Agatha Christie mystery and hiked into the evening. I almost missed an important water source because it was below the trail, but I backtracked and found it. Cheer came up behind me and we both double checked the campsite for tonight. Getting there would probably mean a bit of night hiking, but we were okay with that.
And our evening was full of some spectacular views. I emerged out onto a ridge and got the most incredible open view. I could see Washington waiting for me, with Mt. Saint Helens, Mt. Adams, and Mt. Rainier on the skyline. Dang. I'm almost in WASHINGTON, ya'll! I WALKED here!
Heading down towards the lake, I got a spectacular view of Mt. Hood as a cotton candy sunset colored the sky.
I passed the junction for the Eagle Creek Trail alternate and was a little sad. This area was devastated by a human-caused wildfire in 2017, so the alternate is closed. It led to an an epic spot called Tunnel Falls, where the trail actually took you behind the waterfall.
The PCT was also actually closed until this year, but thanks to awesome volunteers in the Columbia Gorge area who worked hard to fix the trail, it was reopened. I whipped out my headlamp as it got dark and hoped I would be able to find the camp spot in the dark.
I eventually found it and started setting up quietly, noticing that there was a guy cowboy camping and another tent already there. It looked like there would be room for Cheer though.
We were both pretty exhausted when we rolled up, so after making dinner quickly, I collapsed into a deep sleep.
Day 130 // 16.5 miles PCT mile 2147.3 Total miles 1626.2
Last night was... let's just say... a little weird.
In the middle of the night, the older guy that was cowboy camping near us started making a bunch of moaning sounds. I put in my earplugs and drowned it out, but it was still uncomfortable.
Cheer headed out pretty early because of this, not really feeling like making small talk with this guy. She let me know she'd be filtering water by the lake, a bit further down the trail.
I was pretty tired from our late night, so I slept in a bit more (thanks to the earplugs). As I tore down, I talked to our camp neighbor a little bit - I get the vibe that he might actually be a homeless guy who decided to hike the PCT for the heck of it. He was very friendly and talkative, but I was a little wary of sharing too many personal details and moved on. So far, this guy is really the only person I met on the PCT that's given me a sketchy feeling.
Anyways, I took off and met Cheer a little further down the lakeshore to filter our water and have breakfast. Wahtum Lake was really pretty, and despite the weird morning, we were super excited to get to the Bridge of the Gods today! Cascade Locks is on the Oregon side of the bridge, so we won't actually cross into Washington until tomorrow, but it is incredible to think that I've made it this far.
We hiked up into a pretty large burn area from the Eagle Creek Fire, and after lunch, started a long descent into Cascade Locks. It's the lowest point on the entire trail at only 140ft. above sea level, so we braced ourselves for a long stretch of potentially painful downhill.
From the top of the descent, we could see Mt. Adams, then rounded a corner to be greeted by the beautiful Columbia River Gorge. And there was the Bridge of the Gods!
There were some rocky sections of downhill that had us going slowly, but overall, it wasn't quite as bad or painful as I thought it would be. I've realized that every hiker has a different opinion of conditions, and sometimes, something you're expecting to be awful really isn't that bad.
Before we knew it, we were walking into the town of Cascade Locks. We decided to walk over to the bridge first. It's kinda funny though - we realized that the actual sign that says Bridge of the Gods is on the Washington side, not the Oregon side. Whoops. And we had decided not to cross the bridge until heading out, since there is no pedestrian walkway. You're basically right next to the cars. But we took a funny photo by the toll booth and headed down to the bridge overlook spot.
We talked with a few tourists by the bridge that were talking about the "Wild" book - they couldn't believe we were really thru-hikers.
After taking some photos, we noticed a fruit stand right by the bridge that was just closing up. The sweet Latino couple who ran it saw us, and realizing we were hikers, the lady gave us some plums and pears. After talking with them about the trail a bit, she ran back and brought us her extra tacos from lunch. It was soooo sweet! These kinds of experiences really inspire me to look for ways to spread kindness when I get home.
We headed down the main drag to find our dinner spot, a local hot dog place that we had heard rave reviews about. Locks of Dogs and Treats (yes, that's really the name) featured crazy loaded up hot dogs and delicious milkshakes and ice cream. And they had vegan/gluten free options for all my hiker friends out there with dietary restrictions!
I got a huckleberry shake and one of their loaded up dogs with chili, cheese, onion, and secret dressing. It was SOOOO good.
We headed down to the campground on the riverfront and got settled in near the other hikers, then hopped over to the grocery store to do a short resupply.
Pacific Crest Trail Days, a festival celebrating the trail, is happening here in Cascade Locks this weekend. We'd like to come back on Friday night so we can enjoy the festival Saturday. Since Trout Lake is too far away to make in that time, we looked at Guthooks and found a good trailhead 51 miles from here - hopefully we can arrange a ride from there or hitchhike back to town.
Before we resupplied, we had met an awesome trail angel (Madd Baker) who was RV camping near the campground showers. He had towels, toiletries, and even loaner clothes for us to use! It was great to meet him and hear about all the traveling trail magic he's given out. I'm always blown away when someone completely anticipates our needs as hikers.
Day 131 // 10.2 miles PCT mile 2157.5 Total Miles: 1636.4
I awoke to the sound of other hikers up and about at the campground. Cheer and I decided to get our laundry going at the laundromat and grab breakfast at the coffee shop. I got this gem of a photo of her this morning as she hobbled over from her tent.
The hiker hobble is still real, you guys. It takes our legs a while to get warmed up in the morning.
The coffee shop was great, and once our laundry was done, we packed up our packs at the campground and got the rest of our errands (cleaning our pots, backflushing our water filters, etc.) out of the way.
Since it was nearing lunchtime, we decided to stop at the hot dog place again for lunch since we loved it so much. I got a "Picnic Dog" this time, and I think I'm in love. It was a beef dog loaded with baked beans, potato salad, and BBQ sauce and man, it was amazing!
While we were eating, we heard from Steve, Snickers, and TW. They were just coming into town, and they met us at the shop! So fun. The employees at the hot dog place watched in amazement as TW put away TWO picnic dogs. Since the guys aren't going to Trail Days, we think they'll be a bit ahead of us after we get back. But we'll catch them :)
With all our errands done and packs ready, it was time - Washington was calling! We made our way over to the bridge. Cars weaved around us and the wind blew our hair as we crossed the Columbia into the state where I was born. It felt so momentous!
We took a ton of photos on the other side by the sign, and met a SOBO hiker named Godfather.
We mentally prepared ourselves for the gigantic climb ahead of us. Time to regain the elevation we lost coming into Cascade Locks!
Thankfully, a bright spot during the climb was the abundance of ginormous fresh blackberries. Yummmm.
Washington is definitely more intense in terms of climbs than Oregon. We learned that quickly. And it was interesting to see how lush and vegetation-filled the forest was. It seemed like there were way more ferns and bushes filling the spaces between the trees, making everything look so green.
Cheer and I reached the spot where we had hoped to set up camp, but it was pretty crowded already. The northbound and southbound bubbles are definitely overlapping right now, so finding campsites has been a little trickier lately. We decided to keep going a bit, and realized our last potential flat spots were by some powerlines. Welp, not all your PCT camp sites are gonna be winners. At least we got a beautiful sunset!
We set up by a hiker cowboy camping. Odie introduced himself and asked us if we had heard about the Hiker Yearbook. He edits and compiles a yearbook for thru-hikers, and it was so cool! We promised we'd submit our photos after the trail. I love how creative this community is.
Day 132 // 25.2 miles PCT mile 2182.7 Total miles: 1661.6
I got a pretty late start today, sometime around 9:30 maybe? With a bit of the climb left, I slowly got myself going. The weather was pretty misty and damp. Whipping out my windbreaker and pack cover, I managed to get myself to the top.
However, at some point when the rain stopped, I had whipped off my hood and didn't realize that my hat came off with it! TRAGEDY. That hat has been with me since the beginning, and I had grown rather attached. So sad.
I put on some podcasts, and the weather cleared up a bit. After the descent to Rock Creek, I caught up to Cheer eating her lunch. There were a bunch of other hikers around which felt pretty weird - I wasn't sure if they were section hikers or southbounders, but I knew that a lot of people were trying to time their hikes to get to Cascade Locks for Trail Days.
After a quick lunch for me, we were back at the uphill. We still had a ways to go, as we were hoping to make it to Panther Creek to camp, at the base of a big climb. I kept the podcasts going though, and the day seemed to go by pretty quickly.
We were in the woods for a lot of the day, although there were some pretty meadows too. From what some of the southbounders have told us, the trail opens up and there are better views once we get north of Trout Lake. I still can't wait for Goat Rocks!
I made my way down to Trout Creek and stopped for a snack break with about 5 more miles to do for the day. I saw the guy who had creeped us out a bit the other day, and I was sort of glad to see that he was setting up camp here. I think Cheer and I have both realized that he's harmless, but we still aren't wanting to camp near him after our last experience.
After filling up our water and eating snacks, Cheer and I headed towards Panther Creek. There is a campground nearby, so we took the road to check it out and maybe use the bathroom, but unfortunately we couldn't find it and didn't feel like walking through the whole campground to find it.
It was starting to get dark, so we headed back toward the creek to see if we could find a place to camp. There were a lot of people scattered around in various spots. We looked to see if we could find our own place, but ended up having to go back and camp in a little alcove of trees near another hiker who was already asleep. We quietly set up our camp and made dinner, nestling into our sleeping bags for the night.
Day 133 // 15.7 miles PCT mile 2198.4 Total Miles: 1677.3
Cheer and I got up decently early today to get a start on our big climb of the day, and to make sure we could get to the trailhead at a decent hour. We met our camp buddy from yesterday, an older guy named Nomadic Bear. I recognized his name from a few Guthooks comments, and he was super friendly.
We refilled our water by the bridge, and then got started up a 10-mile climb. Most of it was through the woods, but we got a few peeks at some lovely rolling mountains covered in pines.
On our way up the climb, we bumped into a few folks who told us of trail magic ahead! Pancakes and coffee. I was having a hard time getting into the groove this morning, but the thought of trail magic woke me up. Unfortunately for us though, whoever was giving out trail magic had already headed out by 10am. They even forgot to take down their sign :(
Thankfully though, we already knew we were going to be heading back to town today for good food.
At the road crossing, Cheer and I met some really nice guys from Michigan. Bass Bone (Bob) and his friend are hiking this section and they're from the Grand Rapids area. His trail name is Bass Bone because he plays bass trombone in the Grand Rapids Symphony. I told them that our friend Steve is from that area too, and they said they'd keep their eyes peeled for him!
A little ways after our little morning snack break, I caught up to a guy named The Professor. He's from the Seattle area, and his trail name speaks to his knowledge of the local flora and fauna. Professor couldn't help but share about different edible plants, tree growth, and the role of forests and parks in cities. It was a wonderful way to pass the time.
We were hiking pretty fast, so I waited for Cheer at the last water source we had before the trailhead parking lot. We had our lunch together there, and I checked my Inreach messages to see if a ride I was trying to arrange would work out. Unfortunately, our trail angel who we thought could pick us up was sick and wouldn't be able to make it. We figured we'd try our luck at hitchhiking.
It didn't take long to make it to the trailhead parking lot, and we bumped into some day hikers just leaving for their hike. We noticed a few cars drive by while we chatted with them, a good sign for our hitching prospects.
However, once we went over to the gravel road and waited for cars to drive by, we realized this would be tougher than we thought. Typically, for two female hikers, it's not that tricky to find people willing to stop and give you a ride. However, even though we were standing up with our poles and packs on (a good sign to drivers that you're a hiker), pretty much every car drove right past us without slowing down. We got a few weird looks too.
I guess this wasn't a normal place for people to see hikers getting a ride. Bass Bone and his buddy passed us waiting for a ride and wished us well. It had been over an hour, and we started to consider our options if no one picked us up. We each had enough for dinner and breakfast, and if we weren't able to get a ride to Cascade Locks, we figured we could try the cars going the opposite way to Trout Lake.
But thankfully, it didn't come to that. Cheer pulled out her "Hiker to Town" sign, and the next car slowed to talk with us. It was a group of 4 grandparents heading to Stevenson. They told us it would be tight, but we could fit in their truck if we were okay squeezing into the middle seats. We were more than happy with that setup!
We put our stuff in the back, and enjoyed a wonderful ride to Cascade Locks. The two older couples were longtime friends enjoying a weekend together at their cabin in the national forest. One of the couples talked of their granddaughter's boyfriend who had hiked the Appalachian Trail, and they had heard his stories of hitchhiking into towns and didn't mind picking us up.
Even though they weren't heading all the way to Cascade Locks, they sweetly offered to take us the whole way. I was so thankful that we'd be able to make it, thanks to the generosity of these kind people.
Once we got into town, we got some dinner at the local Ale House and started seeing lots of hikers we knew. Where the town had been quiet a few days before, it was bustling with hikers going to Trail Days. One of the people we saw was Papa, a guy we had met back in the desert! He had just made it to Canada, and we were able to congratulate him.
After a delicious dinner, we walked over to Thunder Island, the official hiker campground for the weekend. Normally, you're not allowed to camp there, but with so many hikers, the regular campground wouldn't have enough room. We set up at sunset with an unbelievable view of the Bridge of the Gods.
I noticed some hikers I recognized nearby - it was Haiku and Rockslide! My South African friends that I hadn't seen since Kearsarge Pass caught me up on their hike. They had made it through the Sierra and Norcal, and had realized how dead tired they were. Deciding to mix things up a bit, they chose to rent a car and road trip the Oregon coast instead of hiking it. I think they're hoping to finish by hiking Washington afterwards. It's always cool to see people willing to adjust their original plans when they want to do something different.
Afterwards, Cheer and I walked over to where the festival was set up to scope it out. The booths were closed, but they had an outdoor movie playing. It wasn't near as huge as I had expected, but there were lots of gear vendors and nonprofits represented there.
Excited to take a day off and see who I'll bump into tomorrow!
Day 134 // 0 miles PCT Mile 2198.4 Total miles: 1677.3
PCT Days in Cascade Locks
Cheer texted me this morning that she was heading over to the coffee shop. I was happy that we had picked the quiet side of Thunder Island to camp - even with so many people, most of the hikers on our side had wanted to get sleep.
I headed over to the crowded shop and joined her, and I couldn't help taking a creeper photo of "Darwin on the Trail," a famous Youtube vlogger in the long distance hiking community. I didn't want to bug him or interrupt his conversation, but it was cool to see him mingling with other hikers!
Today was full of lots of walking around, exploring the gear booths, and bumping into new and old friends! I saw a lot of people I knew from different parts of the trail, including Mayhem, Diva, True Grit (Juliana), Orca, Lord Vader, and more. I also got to meet two rad thru-hiker ladies from previous years who really inspired me as I dreamed about hiking the trail myself.
I got to briefly say hello to Starburst, a vlogger who I really inspired me, and I also got to spend more time with Karen Wang, an all-around amazing human and photographer who has overcome a lot of health challenges recently.
I also got to meet Himalaya, a 2018 thru-hiker who I shared a mutual friend with. We had both gone on missions trips to South Africa with the same organization, and our team leaders were the same couple! Small world. She also offered to give us a ride back to the trailhead tomorrow. Hooray!
After getting lunch from the taco truck at the festival, I picked up a new hat for myself and bought a sampler pack of backpacking food from this company "Food for the Sole." I also got some small snack packs from a few different food vendors. I'm pumped to have some variety in my food selection this stretch!
Later in the day, there was a giveaway raffle that took a really long time to get through. Cheer and I both agreed that the best part of the festival was just getting to bump into people we hadn't seen in a long time. We headed over to our favorite place ever, Locks of Dogs and Treats, for another Picnic Dog, before picking up a quick resupply at the grocery.
At the end of the day, I got my photo taken again by Andrew Burns, a San Diego based photographer who started the PCT People Project. He took my photo near mile 200 after I came down from Mt. San Jacinto. Great to see him again!
Day 135 // 10.4 miles PCT mile 2208.8 Total miles: 1687.7
After a surprisingly good night's sleep, I woke up and started packing up my things on Thunder Island.
The Long Distance Hiking Association provided a free continental breakfast for thru-hikers, so we took them up on that. We ate with Stitch, Shuffles, and Sharon & Umberto, a nice couple from Reno who offered to drive us to Chester when we flip.
I also saw Mayhem (Anna), who started around the same time as me. I hadn't seen her since San Jacinto, so that was cool! She went through the Sierra, but had to take some time off due to injury and has since decided to skip up to Oregon to hike with friends.
After eating, we met up with Himalaya and her friend who had offered to drop us back at the trailhead. It was fun chatting with her about her experience on the trail last year with her brother. They had a really tight timeline to hike it, so they completed it in just under 4 months. Hardcore!
Once we made it to the trail, we thanked them and saw that there was a trail magic setup going on! Some really awesome ladies from Vancouver, WA had a spread that included breakfast burritos, fruit, drinks, and more. They were so awesome! We went for a second breakfast - how could we say no?
After eating, we thanked them and hit the trail again. We knew we wanted to stop at Blue Lake for lunch, since Shuffles had said it was amazing.
We saw some views of Mount Adams after a small climb, and the morning seemed to pass quickly and enjoyably for me. The weather was great, and I was feeling pretty good.
When we got to Blue Lake, we sat on the peninsula and took in the beautiful and clear water. It was a little windy, but I had already decided I would go for a swim anyways. Gotta take advantage of a sparkly blue lake and sunshine if you've got it!
After lunch, I went for it. I blew up my sleeping pad to use as a floatie and ran into the chilly water. The beauty and the cold made me feel so alive.
Once I flopped on to my pad, I started to warm a bit in the sun. Cheer got in too and we floated for a while, taking in the amazing view from the lake as we drifted. I was so content. There was no where else I'd rather be.
After floating back to shore, we laid out in the sun and dried our sleeping pads as we warmed up. Cheer mentioned the idea of camping at Blue Lake. We both really liked the idea of taking an on-trail nearo to really enjoy the scenery. After checking the map, we saw that Bear Lake was another great lake just 3 miles down the trail, so we decided to make it there and camp so that we could still get to town at a decent hour tomorrow.
We packed our things and kept going, excited about our short, relaxing day. It really didn't take long to get there. Bear Lake was also blue and beautiful, with some great camping spots. After setting up, I walked down the shore and sat in the sun to sketch. So nice. I don't normally have time to do "camp" type things when I'm hiking 25+ miles a day, so I enjoyed this a lot.
Cheer and I had dinner and tried some yummy new food from vendors at Trail Days. We also made hot chocolate!
Days like this always remind me how wonderful it is to be on the trail.