Trout Lake to Cascade Locks

Highlights:

This section was much shorter than previous sections, and less scenic.  We were mostly in wooded forest with some lakes/swampy areas, and towards the Washington/Oregon border, there gradually got to be less water, and therefore less bugs. The sections ended with crossing the Columbia River on the hair-raising Bridge of the Gods.  We encounter ever increasing North Bound Thru-Hikers (NOBOs).  Black flies and poison oak rear their ugly heads for the first time.  Gear is failing left and right.  Finally, as we descended to the lowest elevation of the Pacific Crest Trail, the Pacific Northwest is hit with a heat-wave.

Day 25: Trout Lake to Mile 2216, 21.5 miles

After a restful night in our tiny hut (the whole hut is about the size of a king sized bed), we ate a great breakfast at the Buddhist Bed and Breakfast with the other guests trading stories about each others adventures.  We got a ride from fellow guests to the Trout Lake Grocery where we found our lost maps!  We were very thankful to get a ride out since hitchhiking was almost out of the question since we had gone on so many different roads to end up at this awesome spot.   We were also incredibly lucky to find the maps that we misplaced in the hiker box at the Trout Lake Grocery Store.  While we were there we had some ice cream.  We started the day late but hiked late because we ended up in a long stretch without water.

Last view in Washington: Mt St Helens

Last view in Washington: Mt St Helen’s

We camped near a meadow.  When setting up camp we discovered that my umbrella had broken again and our tent bug net had a large hole in it probably due to rodents.  To top it off my air mattress had a hole in it from my ice axe puncturing it through my backpack.  I spent about an hour attempting to repair all of these items.  The sleeping pad would not hold air, and we were determined to make it to an outfitter once we got to Cascade Locks.  In the end  I slept on Dirt Stew’s sleeping pad while he used the blue Walmart pad sections we had made for extra insulation on the snow.  It was a good thing we kept them that long.  We fell asleep to the sound of whining mosquitoes.

Day 26: 2216 to Wind River, 28 miles

I woke up exhausted.  We slept on a slope and my sleeping pad was sliding all night, and I kept winding up basically on top of Dirt Stew.  After breaking down camp we found ourselves engulfed in mosquitoes and black flies.  It turns out that the meadow we camped near had a large pond for breeding biting insects.  I decided to call it Black Fly Pond.  It turns out the black fly season and mosquito season overlap.  You learn something new every day.

I will call this "Black Fly Pond"

I will call this “Black Fly Pond”

This day we found ourselves passing through increasing amounts of NOBOs.  We stopped to take a break and found ourselves in a group of arrogant NOBOs also taking a break.  Their inflated egos reminded us of how we felt after finishing the Appalachian Trail.  Not even one month after completing that trail, we decided to go on an ambitious hike on the Isle of Skye in Scotland, and found ourselves completely unprepared because we were over-confident and had done little to no research.  Just because we walked a lot thru-hiking, didn’t mean we were prepared for anything.  At the end of the day we started our decent into the lower elevations near Cascade Locks.  As we descended, the temperatures climbed, as well as the humidity.

Day 27: Wind River to Mile 2159, 29 miles

This day we had two 2,000 ft climbs, which we found difficult in particular because of the hotter and even more humid conditions.  According to our guidebook, there was a stretch of the trail ahead without water.  NOBOs confirmed that there was no water on the trail for 11 miles. In preparation for this long stretch without water we took a long break at Snag Creek making sure to have our meals that required water, and drank lots of water with them.  This was our last water source for 11 miles during the heat of the day.  We loaded up our packs full of water.  Then, as we climbed, we passed water source after water source up the slope.  Essentially these NOBOs had retold us the information we had already had in our guide books and did not add the fact that there was plenty of water going up the mountain.  They had made us needlessly carry another 4 lbs each of water up 1,000 ft of elevation.

Half way up the second climb, we thought there was a chance of making it into Cascade Locks.  We were dying for a shower.  We were swimming in sweat and sticky all over.  We could see the Columbia River down in the distance, and asked more NOBOs about the decent into Cascade Locks.  A number of times they stated that we could easily do it and they had taken X hours.  X hours was always the right amount of time for us to get into town with time to spare before sunset.  After crossing foot tenderizing scree (rock) fields and searing clear cuts, we started to wonder how long we had and what the rest of trail down looked like.  I asked another NOBO what the trail was going to be like into town.  He said, “it looks like this the rest of the way”, pointing to the trail below his feet which was covered in pine needles beneath a shady canopy.

Not so fun descent into Cascade Locks

We then managed to lose the trail having headed down a fire road, and had to decide using the GPS, whether we would go back quite a ways, or bush-wack a shorter distance to regain the trail.  We pretty much knew at this point that we wouldn’t make it to town.  To add insult to misery, we suddenly realized that most of what we were hiking through was poison oak.  We hadn’t noticed since we were pushing hard to make it to town, and now we were probably covered in it. We continued to walk through clear cuts and poison oak as we searched for a place to camp.  I cursed the NOBO who told us the trail would be easy, and decided never to trust them again.  I knew that we would now have to protect our sleeping bags from the poison oak on our skin.  For me this meant sleeping in my long underwear, but for Dirt Stew, it meant sleeping in his rain pants since he lost his long underwear bottoms many miles ago.  We were miserable, and 4 miles away from town, setting up camp just as it got dark.

Day 28: Mile 2159 to Cascade Lock

We woke up and walked into town dodging poison oak here and there.

We've done more than 500 miles!

We’ve done more than 500 miles!

We walked across the Bridge of the Gods to Oregon experiencing extreme vertigo from walking on grated roadway 200ft above the Columbia River.  We were so thankful that we had not tried to go over this bridge in the dark the night before since there is no pedestrian walkway, and we were thrown in with all the cars zooming past.  No shoulder either.  No pictures were taken because Dirt Stew was afraid he would drop his camera through the road into the river below.  We were happy to eat breakfast followed by a foot of ice cream soft serve an hour afterwards.  We’re so happy to be showered and our laundry done.  A few more chores, and we’ll be off tomorrow morning.

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