437 miles out of Ashland
19.07.2012 - 29.07.2012
After a couple of wonderful days with Corley and her mother in Ashland, OR, they dropped me off at the trail at about 1230 for me to get back to hiking! It was great to be getting back to hiking in Oregon, although the affects of being in a town for a couple days was hitting me, I still made great time. It was quite a change from the Marble Mountains and Russian Wilderness I had been in just a few days before in Northern California. Many more dirt mountain roads, powere lines, and people around than I had expected, and quite a bit more dry, but it was still a lovely hike. I met two people after crossing Highway 69 who own property on the PCT and are trying to set up a water cache, information board, and campsite there at the road crossing and wanted the advice of a PCT thru hiker. It was nice, but then I was off to finish my day and make it to Hayatt Lake, just a bit further down trail from the camp ground.
The next day was my first full day of hiking in Oregon. I could tell hiking today that this terrain in Oregon would be much different from what I had been hiking in. Rolling hills with much less elevation change than the previous few months. It was wonderful and I was making great time as I hiked on. I hit the very cozy Brown Mountain Shelter and got some water before heading out to cross the lava fields. Without knowing what was to come, I pictured the lava fields you see flowing down in hawaii, cooled and solid for hundreds of years, but that flow of lava was what was in my minds eye. Instead, it was massive piles of lava rocks with a sandy path cutting through. It was an interesting hike and unlike anything I remember hiking on before. I made it to Highway 140 and still had plenty of day light to get a few more miles. I hiked on and hit the McCloughlin trail, but missed the junction back onto the PCT. Up until this point, I had not talked to a single other person today. But missing the junction, I met two people coming down from the summit who helped get me going in the right direction. I was pretty bummed. I have yet to have a day where I have no talked to a single soul on trail. I look forward to having at least one of those, but may not have any!! I made camp and actualy set up my tent, a rare moment, but the mosquitoes were too bothersome. It was a good choice.
I was off the next day, still being bothered by mosquitoes. The morning was quite full of them. I made it to Christi Spring and the slow flow coming down made me have to stand still for minutes to get the required water and I tried to keep on moving to shoo away the mosquitoes. I got my water and left as quickly as I could. I eventually met a guy coming south bound from Cascade Locks and asked him about trail conditions to hear that I would find plenty of snow through OR. I wasn't too excited to hear that news, but will take whatever the trail throws at me! I got to cross over Devils Peak and found my first Oregon snow. It wasn't much, but the view from up there was gorgeous and it was fun to boot ski down the snow a little bit. I always love the downhill with snow! I find it a ton of fun. Later on, after a half mile hike off trail to get water, I ran into Sampson, who I had not seen since Castle Craggs Park. I had hiked 32 miles so far and he had gone 19 that day. We hiked on a little further to where I felt like making camp and he hiked on. I am moving along right through Oregon so far!
This morning was all about making it to the Mazama Village Camground to pick up my first package in OR with food resupply! I made it there plenty early in the day and caught Sampson again and met another thru hiker, Eagle Eye. I ate some great food and was off the get to Crater Lake! Once there, the lake looked so gorgeous, a very vivid blue on such a clear day! The place was loaded with people on the sunny sunday afternoon, but I was off and hiking the Rim Trail after getting a little more food and mailing out some postcard thank yous! The rim trail is not part of the true PCT, but the lake is so beautiful that it is not something to pass up! I was very surprised by how steep the sections of the rim trail got. Easy to tell why they do not want horses on this trail, not only the steep terrain, but the abrupt cliff edge down to the lake too. I finally hit some good patches of snow as I began moving away from the lake, and was off and on snow for a while until a few miles away from Crater Lake. Then it was a long flat walk over to the base of Mt. Thielsen where I caught On Time, another thru hiker I had not seen since Siead Valley. He kept my pace for a while until there was some up hill to do. I made it through all the up before stopping to make camp at the trail junction to the summit of Thielsen. I had been going over patches of snow, but not much yet. I looked at the north face of the mountain and could tell I would hit plenty of snow in the morning, but for that moment, it was time to rest!
So this was to be my first real snow hiking ont he PCT. It was a good amount of snow there on the northern face, but down at Thielsen Creek was where I first got lost. Instead of wrapping around the creek, I kept heading up and thought I would find trail eventually, but never I did. I climbed up to the other bank of the creek and hiked over, hoping to find trail with no luck. I made my way back to the creek and stayed up above it to head back to where I knew I got off trail. Fortunatly, I met a hiker who was camped near by and he pointed me in the right direction. Then it was a climb up to the high point of OR and WA, 7560 feet. Not very high compartively speaking. After crossing this point, I really lost trail. I was searching around making circles back to where I had lost trail for nearly 45 minutes. Following old tree blazes and just trying to make sense of my map when I had no points of reference around, as I was surrounded by trees. I decided to hike further backwards and eventually found I had just completely missed a turn off the trail and was back on my way. I then found out the Cowhorn Mountain was pretty sketchy with snow having some steep drop offs on both sides of the 2 foot wide and 6 foot deep snow bank. I was glad to make it through that and be headed down to Summit Lake and out of snow range to make camp. Still plenty of mosquitoes too.
I was off in the morning to make my way around Diamond Peak. The trail stays pretty low around the basin, but a huge avalanche had happened months before, covering everywhere with lots of snow. It was really quite beautiful to see. All the trees were bent down the mountain and you could just see how much destruction power an avalanche carries with it. I got off trail, but never felt lost today. I hit a frozen lake, which appeared on my map and was able to see I was 300 feet above trail and had a steep face to traverse down, but eventually hit trail and the excitement of finding my way made me yell out in happiness. I was happy to be on trail and continued on crossing large patches and finding short segments of trail to know I was on the right path. I got down to Shelter Cove Resort to pick up my most recent package. At this point, I had hoped to make Cascade Locks on Thursday the 2nd of August, but after the past few days and making such wonderfully large amounts of miles unintentionally, I did the math and saw I could make the Locks on Monday morning, in time to make some of my annual Gervais Family Campout. I called my sister Renee from Shelter Cove to see if she would be willing to pick me up, and she said yes! I hiked out at 1445 to get another 18 miles in my 2030! From here I called mom and asked her about it all too! She was very excited about it and thought we could keep it a huge surprise for everyone, including my father. So I said I'd give it a few days and see how my body handles it and will confirm the new plans then.
I was off in the morning, and having looked at my maps for the day, saw that the elevation today was quite mellow, so I planned to go for a VERY long day and moved fast in the morning! I met 4 section hikers headed north this morning, but had my goal in mind and moved through after short chats. I had a great morning, seeing an Elk, a fox with a snake in it's mouth, and my first black bear in Oregon. It was a scruffy guy too. It's amazing how quickly they turn and run through the forest the opposite direction, nothing being able to slow them down. But nothing slowed me down today! I went past the Elk Lake Resort and began my climb up to Sisters. After the Wikiup Plains, I hit the snow I had heard lots about, but also found another north bound hiker, Kairos. We found our way around some snow, but he was moving slower than I. After taking lots of time to slowly move through huge patches of snow and attempting to following some prints, I found a trail headed west down the mountain. I knew it wasn't headed where I wanted to go, but also knew there were a couple trails headed down to a meadow between the Husband and the Sister mountains. So I found a spot that had a campsite and decided to end the day there, a mile and a half short of where I wanted to get to, but it was still a 41 mile day! My longest day on trail. I set out my map and triangulated my position to find an idea of where I was. I realized that at the north end of sisters was the Younger Brother, which had a ridge coming down that the trail wrapped right around. I figured in the morning I would give up trying to find trail and just head right for that!
Once the mosquitoe alarm clock got me up, I was out and making my way towards the ridge, still feeling like I was making good time, but when I finally hit 7 miles at 1000 I realized that the snow had defnintely slowed me down, but that was okay! It was beautiful hiking and seeing Obsidian Falls and hiking in the lava fields. I made it down to McKenzie Pass and was off to get to Big Lake Youth Camp for my next package! Much more lava fields and burn areas filled up this hiking, but I made it through and had plenty of water. I got to the trail marker for the Youth Camp and headed that way just to find another trail junction which was unmarked. Long story short, I chose the wrong way. Instead of walking a quarter mile just up to the camp, I walked 3 miles around the lake. I was quite upset at myself for the one. But I got my food and left as soon as I could. I made it to Santiam Pass and gave mom a call to let her know the plans were going to go on and the surprise should be kept as good a secret as we could. I hiked out and made another 4 or 5 miles for the day.
I had heard that a thru hiker I had been following not far behind for over a 1000 miles was pretty close ahead of me and looked forward to catching him, which I did by 0900 this morning. His name is Dan and he is doing about the same miles a day as I am. today was another very snow filled day, going over Mt. Jefferson. We hiked off and on for the morning, getting lost a couple times and choosing different ways to find trail again, but we did the climb back up to Jefferson Park and over the high viewpoint together. It was very helpful here to have someone to find trail through so much snow with. We made it up in great time, and had a lot of fun sliding down the huge snow field on the back side of the Buttes. It was great and we got back on trail pretty easily. We weren't far from getting to Ollalie Lake Resort, but camped 7 miles out at Breitenbush Lake. We even went over to the campground to find some conversation. It was a great choice because we were able to get pizza and baked beans. These two guys even offered us some ancient Mountain House meals from the 80's. We acceted and it was just a great night with a fire and conversation.
The mosquitoes were up in the morning and I was off a little earlier, hearing the call of food calling me! I got into Ollalie Lake at 0830 to find they had no ice cream, which made sense after I found out that they didn't have any power but power to get water from the lake filtered and up to their holding tank. It was a great little place with just a dirt road to get too and a few cabins with hardly even running water! Dan caught up and after a nice break and buying a few snacks to make it to Timberline Lodge, we were off and hiking together to chat. He hikes much differently than I do. He will hike at 4 miles an hour for 3 hours then take a break to eat and everything. I go at 3 miles an hour all day long, eating as I walk. Now you wouldn't think that the 1 mile an hour difference between us was much, but it really is! A couple miles from the end of the day, my left quad seized up on me and made it difficult to walk. It made me quite worried after hiking with Running Wolf in the beginning of the trail, who in 2010 had made it to mile 2006, where his quad seized up on him and was drastic enough to get him off trail for the season. He had been there too late to take some time off to let his leg heal. But for me, I was glad we only had a couple more miles. We made it to Timothy lake and went to get water from the lake and found a great camp. After a rock gave way and I slipped into the water, soaking my feet, we decided to make camp. I was relieved and was sure to take a few asprin before bed, hoping the leg pain would heal by morning.
My leg still felt stiff when I woke up at 0500, so I decided to get an earlier start to the day. Come to find out, a 50 mile trail run event was going on and all morning I was being passed by runners. They were very nice though, impressed with what I was doing, giving me donuts, and encouraging to keep on going. I made their final aid station as there were cleaning everything up. I was lucky with my time and got a PB&J sandwich, a banana, and gatorade. It was great and got me going for the climb up Mt. Hood to the Timberline Lodge! It was beautiful coming up to Mt. Hood. I really think it was the most beautiful mountain in Oregon! I made the lodge at about 1330, with plenty of time for their all you can eat lunch buffet. I ate lots of very good food. Dan made it in about 45 minutes after me. It was a great break in the day and so good to fill up on food! After letting the food settle a bit, it was off to the trail again, which out of the lodge was hard to find. There are so many trails around up there that I had no idea if I was on the PCT or not. But I found my way and it was a tough climb down. Quite steep down for a few miles, which is never easy on the knees! I got to just before Sandy River and met a few very nice people out doing the Timberline Trail around Hood. They had a great campsite and I camped with them after chatting for half an hour. They offered me some food and it was nice conversation. Dan got down after a while, he had eaten too much food and his stomach was hurting a lot as he hiked. I'm glad he made it. Only 39 miles to Cascade Locks!
I was out very early, not being able to fall back asleep after waking up at 0515, so just decided to get hiking. It was a good climb up to start the day, and after the climb I just began to get the feeling of wanting to be in town very badly. It's what will usually happen the day hiking in before a break. I'll just be caught up on thoughts of wanting to get there. Thankfully, the mp3 that Corley had bought and filled up for me came in very handy for this situation! I just popped an ear bud and listened to music. It was wonderful help and I was able to just hike and not think about town too much. I made it to the Indian Spring trail junction down the the Eagle Creek Trail, this is how to get to the notorious Tunnel Falls! So I went down this, which was VERY steep. I think I must have dropped 1000 feet in a mile. Then it was a wonderful, but very populated hike down Eagle Creek. All the falls were so beautiful though! It was worth it. I made it into Cascade Locks at about 1830 and went right for pizza!! Dan got in eventually and got pizza too. I wanted to go get a milk shake before the place closed so I asked for my check, but they told me someone had paid it for me. I couldn't believe it! I didn't even know who or get to say thank you! I love trail magic!!
I spent the night at the Post RV park, near where the Sea Bird would come in to Cascade Locks. They let PCT hikers camp there for free and have free showers! It was a wonderful way to make the last day in Oregon! Now it is time to surprise the family, take a few days off, and then get back on trail and finish up with Washington! I look forward to the snow melting some more before I get back out on trail!!! 2 states down!