Friday, August 31, 2012

31 August - Day 130 - Up onto Mt Adams

From Road 23 (Mile 2237.5) to Lava Rock Spring (Mile 2257.9)

Total PCT Miles today: 20.4

Pan here.

The day started out comfy & cozy, got really majestic, then devolved into a long dusty, sandy slog on trails until we set up camp as the light failed. Back to comfy and cozy, then. :-)

We woke at Kelly's B&B, got our packs packed with the new food and supplies, then went downstairs for a lovely breakfast of eggs, sausages, fresh fruit, and huckleberry pancakes with jam and syrup. One Pole was staying at the B&B, too, and we chatted with him. He has decided to quit the trail. We hear every few days, it seems, of someone deciding to leave the PCT.

We hopped into our Trail Angel's SUV (I phoned him the night before-- think of it: in a tiny town this size, they have a list of more than dozen different Trail Angels willing to transport PCT hikers to and from the trailhead!!! Amazing!) and away he took us the 13 miles back to our trailhead.

The trail quickly ascended onto the flanks of the impressive glacier-clad Mt Adams, and the views just became more spectacular. The sides of these big volcanoes get summer pretty late in the season -- the snows haven't been gone long now-- so the flowers have to do double-time to grow, bloom, pollinate, seed, and go dormant again (or re-seed). So although all around Mt Adams the plant world is in late summer/early autumn, here on Adams's sides, it's high summer again, with fragrant lupine, paintbrush, valerian, phlox, buttercups, penstemon, bistort and towering corn-husk lilies. And, naturally, mosquitoes. The lively creeks and flowering subalpine meadows of Adams were such a joy. To the west loomed huge, squat Mt St Helen's. To the north-northwest, vast and towering Rainier covered in vast glaciers just kept pulling at our attention. It's vast! Off to the south, we could see the receding pinnacle of Mt Hood. Gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous.

Mt. St. Helens

Mt. Rainier.

Mt. Adams.

The day stayed fair, and the air cool. As evening came on and we hiked on and on in dusty horse-pounded trails, we had to focus on staying the course. Our feet hurt now, it seems, more and more for longer each day. We get hungry quickly - but can't barely stand the food in our packs. We joke uproariously at the pains and aches and difficulties. And that sure helps us cope with what is, frankly, the most difficult endeavor any of us has tried or imagined. Very very hard. We held up the map of the whole PCT today on the trail to get a sense of just how far we've come. After a few moments of considered silence, one of us said quietly: "Only someone out of their $&@¥ mind would do such a thing." "Absolutely bonkers," one of us agreed. "It's the sane ones who quit." (and so the conversation went ... ) we then agreed that unreasonable achievement must be the result of unreasonable dedication, then toasted our lunacy with tequila. Nuts.

But, despite the kvetching, at least half the day we spent in the "wow" and "oh boy" mode ... Which makes this a good day.

Camped tonight above a gorgeous spring dammed up where it emerges from a high-piled lava field. Ramen supper. Tequila courtesy of Dionysus. A few mozzies courtesy of Adams. And cold air pushing us quickly into tents, long underwear, wool socks, and down sleeping bags. Cold tonight! g'night!

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31 August Photos


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Thursday, August 30, 2012

30 August - Day 129 - Thru endless woods to a lonely road

From Blue Lake (Mile 2214) to Road 23 (Mile 2237.5)

PCT Miles today: 23.5

Long day in the "long green tunnel" of these woods here. Gotta catch up on log entries, so will keep this brief.

We arrived at Road 23 very tired, sweaty, stinky, and in a foul mood. The last 5 miles up and up were hard on us.

This was where we're supposed to hitch into the town of Trout Lake for resupply. But it's a remote forest road with zero traffic. We wondered how long before the first car. As we took off our shirts to strategically scrub with Wet Wipes, around the bend comes an SUV. Seano stuck his thumb out and hissed at us "put your shirts back on!" and lo! The driver stopped. How about that?! Our angel got all three of us in and drove us cheerfully the 13 miles into town. He's a hiker, and knows all about the PCT. We were soooo grateful.

Dropped us off at the Chevron w/ attached diner. What great baked goods there! Fresh huckleberry milkshakes! Carrot cake! So we phoned the B&B and got special PCT rates, then ate a big meal, more dessert, then over to the little grocery where our resupply box was waiting ...

... then we waddled and hobbled our hiker hobble over to the B&B, where lovely accommodations awaited us. Hot showers! Laundry! Cotton sheets and towels!

For comic relief, we ended the evening watching the Republican Convention, with Rubio & Romney giving speeches.

We were hungry again not two hours after supper (normal for us) and really wished we'd brought  food from the diner. *sigh*

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

29 August - Day 128 - Cooler and north toward Mt Adams

From campsite (Mile 2194.5) to Blue Lake (Mile 2214)

PCT Miles today: 19.5

Dionysus here.

Wow, Washington is more different than Oregon than I had expected. As soon as we crossed the border we moved into a hilly, chilly landscape. Misty moist clouds hanging low over the hills. We wake to condensation on the rain fly and in our bags. The air is softer if more severe - we are finally cold in our tents at night. And my hair has sucked up the moisture like one of those funny grow-a-dinosaur sponges that starts out the size of a sticker then you add water and kablam! it's the size of your face. We joke that it is sentient and, generally speaking, unhappy with the cold and bent on world domination - "I AM THE GREAT AND POWERFUL HAIR "(à la Wizard of Oz), it seems to say.

Another day tromping around very near the Colombia Gorge and heading east toward Mt. Adams. A couple big climbs. Loads more huckleberries. And legitimate rainforest around us the whole time. You wouldn't believe the ferns here.

We crossed the 2200-mile mark. Is it possible it's only 460-odd miles to go?

It was also fun to see our first familiar faces in quite a while, and when it rain it pours (which I think is especially true here). We ran into Grit and Last Minute both of whom we'd last seen at Shelter Cove before the fire (300 miles ago).

Last Minute, Pan, Grit, and Dionysus
We also saw Anchorman for the first time since Mammoth or Tahoe (gods, it seems like ages ago -- something like 2.5 months and 1300 miles). Anyhow he looked clean and trim like no self-respecting thruhiker should (seriously, how do you manage that, man?) As well we saw Helicopter, who looks vibrant and strong (and how do you manage that, woman?)

Meanwhile we bundle up deeper in our sleeping bags and scrape the bottom of our food bags to try and find extra calories in order to stay warm. It's getting chillier.

The campsite at Blue Lake was really very beautiful -- only marred by the toilet paper/wet wipes wadded up here and there behind trees. We've seen this increasingly since entering Oregon -- and now in Washington it's quite frequent. Half of it appears to be female piddles beside the trail. Either way, it's a disgrace.

Cold night of a north wind blowing across the lake to our camp in the trees. The trees roared most of the night. brrrrrrrr.

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8/29 - photos

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Tuesday, August 28, 2012

28 August - Day 127 - Putt-putt up our first Washington Cascades mountains.

From Snag Creek Trail (Mile 2174.6) to campsite (Mile 2194.5)

PCT Miles today: 20.1

Dionysus here.

The landscape has changed again so abruptly. Once we crossed the gorge we entered a crazy lush forest of ferns and moss and berries. The trees are all wrapped up with moss and lichen. The understory is full and fat with life And the ground is evidence of the vast amount of water that flows across these hills during the snow melt. But everywhere is green green green.

Oregon Grape

Red Huckleberry

Booze God on a bridge.

Seano towering in the forest.

It's funny that we don't seem to be moving much. We got a couple nice viewpoints from on top of ridgelines today and every time we could see right over not far to the Gorge we left days ago. Weird. We must be moving parallel to the gorge.

And by the way, the climbs are kicking our butts. After the Sierras I didn't think that possible, but apparently we got soft again in Oregon. Or maybe in our case we got skeletal - nothin soft on us anymore: you can count the ribs with a finger. But suddenly it's a 1000 ft climb here, and 2000 there. We had two big ones today.

Oh well, beautiful forest and the water sources are exquisite up here.

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Monday, August 27, 2012

8/27 photos

Looking down the Columbia River westwards towards Portland.

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27 August - Day 126 - Posting Resupplies & Across the Columbia River

From Cascade Locks (Mile 2155) to Snag Creek Trail (Mile 2174.6)

PCT Miles today: 19.6

We crossed the Bridge of the Gods over the Columbia River into Washington this morning, after mailing off 15 boxes from the little post office. What a relief it will be to not have to shop when we have town days from now on. The boxes are sent! Our supplies are going to be waiting for us. Hallelujah!

Huckleberries, blackberries, raspberries, salmon berries, red huckleberries, thimbleberries ... Then great green mossy silences among the fern-thick forest floor, the mossy logs...

Quiet day as we headed north then east on the PCT.

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Sunday, August 26, 2012

Saturday, August 25, 2012

25 August -- more photos

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25 August - Day 124 - Eagle Creek Spectacular

From windy ridge (Mile 2132) facing out toward Mt St Helen's, Mt Rainier and Mt Adams to Cascade Locks (Mile 2155) on the Columbia River.

PCT Miles: 23

Sean-o again. Impossible to do this stretch of trail justice in words. Pictures can only brush the beauty.

Mt. Adams on the right, Mt. St. Helens on the left, and Rainier in the distant middle.

We took an alternative route, the Eagle Creek Trail, toward Cascade Locks, our last stop in Oregon. It was a fitting finish. We passed over multiple springs festooned with ferns and moss, each looking like a carefully designed display at a botanical garden. For much of the day we had the trail to ourselves but that gradually changed as we descended.

Pan heading along the trail to Tunnel Falls.
Dionysus and Seano at the Tunnel by the Falls.

With Portland a mere 30 miles away, people were there in the dozens to take advantage of a lovely late-summer Saturday.

The highlight was Tunnel Falls, a roaring cataract that drops over the trail where a carved passage curves through the rock wall. You can see all the photos but they cannot touch the experience of sound and wet and the sense of depth of the falls. There is wonder out here when we're not too weary to perceive it!

We continued on toward Cascade Locks, bracing ourselves for a final 3-mile walk on a bike path next to the highway into town. Suddenly, a man stopped his car on the freeway, vaulted a railing and introduced himself--Jeremiah, a kindred hiker who had done the AT in 2006. He loaded us - and our smelly gear-- into his idling Subaru and trundled us into town.

We stayed in a very nice cabin at the Bridge of the Gods RV Park. Pan fixed spaghetti bolognese in the kitchen there and we drank root beer floats until we were full to bursting. It was carb-replenishment at its most comforting.

Tomorrow will be devoted to resting, and assembling five boxes each of groceries to send to ourselves all over Washington.

Tomorrow morning, Pan is fixing carbonara. Yay!

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8/25 photos (one more)

Pan, with Seano and Dionysus in the background at Tunnel Falls.

Friday, August 24, 2012

8/24 upload probs

We are finding it more difficult -- maybe because of the remoteness -- to get a signal strong enough to allow us to upload our log entries and especially our photos. Argh.

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8/24 more photos


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8/24 photo #1

On Mt Hood.

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24 August - Day 123 - from Feasting to Fast on our Feet

From Timberline Lodge on Mt Hood (Mile 2107.3) to cowboy camp on windy ridge (Mile 2132) facing out toward Mt St Helen's, Mt Rainier and Mt Adams in the nearby State of Washington.

Total PCT Miles hiked today: 24.7

Sean-o here. Creek frozen this morning.

Five am wake- up call provided by the sound-check crew for today's relay race. We were not amused ... Actually, we were. One of the habits of mind from the hike is finding amusement in difficult circumstances and riffing on it until we're roaring with laughter.

Looking south from Mt. Hood -- we see Mt. Jefferson and the smudges from the fire.

Mt. Jefferson, where we were camped not long ago.

It helped that there was a magnifico buffet waiting at the lodge.

This was no run-of-the-mill effort. Each dish was unique, the pastries were all fresh-baked, and it was the best fruit I've had on the trail. The OJ was fresh out of the squeezer, too. We've really been thrilled when we encounter a place that puts attention and creativity into what comes out of its kitchen. It must seem like we pay an inordinate amount of attention on food out here, and we do, but that's because our day-in eats are so unremarkable.

We resupplied there (we sent ourselves boxes of food) but it was tough to leave. I did have a chance to talk to me mum, having found out from my Sis that Mom will be going in for a medical procedure on Sept 4. By all accounts, it's a minor bit of repair to her ticker, but it still knocked me off my emotional pins for a bit. She was very clear that she was fine and not to worry and go out and finish up "our big adventure." That's the plan, but I won't be hiking easy next Tues till I hear she's doing okay. I plan to get back to Wisconsin for a visit ASAP in October.

On we went through the subalpine landscape of this magnificent volcano. Though someplaces in the Cascades are starting the autumn turn, all across Hood the summer wildflowers are showy as can be.

Mt. Hood

Our campsite for the night was off the volcano to the north, on a windy ridge facing the next volcanoes: Mt Adams and Mt St Helen's. They are across the Columbia Gorge, in the State of Washington. Wow. Almost there.

Clouds that scuffed across Hood yesterday are still around today. Moist Pacific air.

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Thursday, August 23, 2012

23 August - Day 122 -Toward Mt Hood All Day

From Forest Rd 57 (Mile 2083) to campsite above Timberline Lodge on Mt Hood (Mile 2107.3)

Total PCT Miles hiked today: 24.3

Cold day. Steady damp wind from the Pacific. Wore jackets all day. Some amazing views as we approached Hood! Astonishing the height and glaciers!

We passed the 2100 mile mark! And no thru-hikers anywhere.

Last mile hard going. Blowing lava dust, sand, exposed to gale-force gusts. Ugh. But Timberline lodge was fantastic. Set above the trees on the dramatic sides of Mt Hood with glaciers above and nearby. Great architecture. Great people. Fantastic food and drink (what a blessed change). We'll camp in the winds outside (no room at the inn, alas -- with the "Hood to Coast Relay Race" taking place here). Then be back for the legendary breakfast, before we start our two day hike to the Columbia River and the Washington border.

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Wednesday, August 22, 2012

22 August - Day 121 - Long flat woods

From Jude Lake (Mile 2057.6) in Mt Hood National Forest to horse campground on Forest Rd 57 (Mile 2083)

Total PCT Miles hiked today: 25.4

Cold morning -- in the 40s. Even the lake thinks so - its surface is fuzzy with morning mist.

After I fix coffee we break camp and make our way through the quiet woods. No PCT hikers anywhere. The rerouted reroute a the last minute must have blocked them. We read it's now a 48-mile detour. But conditions are changing so fast (administrative decisions at the Forest Service, that is), we think it best to go, go, go northward and get away from any further possibilities of closures.

Long day in quiet woods. Almost no views of Hood. The huckleberry leaves are turning color. Oregon Grape is here and there starting to go crimson. We see the occasional Canada Jay, Stellar's Jay, Osprey, juncos, Western Tanager, but no voices except for the little Douglass's squirrel.

We reach a horse campground, where a few rigs and horses are staying. Not many though. Nice to have a picnic table to cook on!


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Tuesday, August 21, 2012

21 August - Day 120 - Majestic Mt Jefferson

From Milky Creek (Mile 2035.5) on the slopes of Mt Jefferson to Jude Lake (Mile 2057.6) in Mt Hood National Forest

Total PCT Miles Hiked Today: 22.1

Pan here.

Four months to the day since we began this epic adventure. And we still look forward to the surprises of each day -- and love being here (though, of course, "love" is not the only response we have to the catrillion challenges we face).

Today was a day of stunning scenery. (Oregon, you just keep impressing the hell out of us.)

Here's Mt Jefferson from our campsite as the sun rose behind her.

Our campsite nestled in alders and mountain maples.

We woke during the night to the sound of light showers on the tent roof. Rain! In four months, we have only had real rain twice! It came and went until the sky got gray around 5:30 am. Then clear skies. We piled out of the tents and looked up at the huge glacier-draped peaks of Jefferson above us, and the clouds around the crown broke out in "Jesus rays" (Dionysus's term for melodramatic Hallmark card too-good-to-be-true sunbeams thru clouds). Wow.

I fixed coffee while Seano & Dionysus packed. We had hiked through deep, tall conifer forest to camp here in this avalanche line grown with dense maples, alders, mountain ash, and hazelnut. And now, in the morning light, we could see early autumn in their leaves. Beautiful and strange. Autumn already?
Indian Paintbrush and mountain heath blooming alongside the trail.

Mt. Jefferson as we moved on across the valley and up the other side of the mountains. We could see the smoke from the fire on the left of Jefferson.

We hiked over the subalpine volcanic landscape, gingerly crossing roaring creeks cloudy with glacial milk, glissading down snow fields, and picking huckleberries.

We reached the reroute the forest service has set up to channel PCT hikers around a large area that's closed due to the Waterfall 2 and Ollalie fires. What an arduous reroute.

Helicopters and spotter planes in the distance punctuated the incredible stillness of the woods. And always the great wave of smoke piled up in the east.

We stumbled into camp tonight footsore at a quiet lovely lake. Now we read that the closure has been expanded. We are just outside the closure - according to the Forest Service website - so we are lucky. But so many other PCT Hikers must be stuck out west and south of us. Unhappy time for them.

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Monday, August 20, 2012

20 August - Day 119- marching toward Jefferson

From cowboy camp along trail on mountain ridge (Mile 2011.5) to Milky Creek (Mile 2035.5) on the slopes of Mt Jefferson.

Total PCT Miles hiked today: 24

Sean-o here.

We got a late start today as we took care of a few biz matters via cell and smart phones at last night's campsite. But once we got moving we covered a lot of ground, crossing beneath the big hand of Three-Fingered Jack ...
Dionysus and Seano on the slopes of Three-Fingered Jack.

before turning toward the impressive shape of Mt. Jefferson. We noticed the narrow plume of what looked like might be a new fire; then later in the day we saw the smoke of the Waterfalls 2 fire rising over Mt. Jeff's massive shoulder.
Tomorrow we'll reach the point of departure for the fire reroute. We can see the smoke beyond the mountain.

After a long descent, we found exactly two small tent sites carved into the head-high maples and alders a long stone's throw from Milky Creek. Beautiful sunset tonight, both in the high clouds to the west and on the dark red and brown face of the mountain above us. After several "wows!" Dionysus finally stopped setting up the tent and sat down to watch.

Another good day ...

Oregon has given us her best shows.

Been thinking a lot about the nature of the trail and the sense I have of its implacability. It cannot be rushed or muscled or pushed. Best made plans for speed or to hurry up for town food or trail magic is often foiled by unforeseen elevation gains or trail of lava rocks that leave us stumbling over invisible obstacles that we refer to as "ninja roots" or "ninja rocks." The trail largely dictates our progress, which on really fast days unrolls at 3 mph. It has been brilliant to live life at that pace for this time and give the trail the respect it's due as well as our affection.

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Sunday, August 19, 2012

19 August - Day 118 - Happy Day of Felicities

From McKenzie Pass (Mile 1989.5) to cowboy camp along trail on mountain ridge (mile 2011.5) leading to Three-fingered Jack.

Total PCT Miles hiked today: 22

Dionysus here.

Today was a very good day. After spending yesterday resupply ing and eating in Sisters we were welcomed back to the trail with an abundance of generous magic.

For starters we were shuttled back to the trailhead by local trail angel Lloyd Gust of Bend OR. He picked us up from the bakery in town and returned us to the très cool observation tower at Mackenzie Pass. (The tower looks like medieval fortress built out of lava rocks, and inside there are viewing portals cut out of the walls so visitors can identify specific peaks in the area.) While we were loading in the car at the bakery a fellow hiker, Tom Sawyer, magically, unexpectedly returned a lost hat to Charles.

Then we started hiking and actually passed up an opportunity for magic because we didn't take water from a cache stocked by Mr. Gust.

Across the lava fields toward Mt. Washington.
But when we made it to the next road at Santiam Pass we encountered a whole string of magics that we gladly enjoyed: cold beer in a cooler first, then across the road another water cache, then the husband of another thru hiker was handing out cold drinks and Subway sandwiches in the parking lot. THEN after all that a couple thruhikers, Gerelict and Scarecrow, arrived fresh from town and brought a cooler of beers and fruit which they shared. What an amazing day of magic.

On top of all that we crossed the 2000 mile mark. After today we only have about 650 miles left. Which sounds like nothing to us.

Plus, we crossed a very cool lava field circa 300 AD AND found a load of ripe huckleberries which we picked by many a purple-stained handful. Huckleberries are far superior to many other berries, I must say! Wowie.

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