Sorry folks for the long delay between posts. There has been a dearth of computers since Etna, CA. I have now hiked 2155 miles and am only 0.5 miles and the Bridge of the Gods away from the border of Washington. It is the lowest point along the PCT; a mere 200 ft above sea level. The trail crosses the Columbia River before ascending sharply 3000 feet up. It is Labor day as I write this and yesterday was a beautiful section of trail called, Eagle Creek. It is an alternate non-PCT route that follows the fast-moving Eagle Creek through a series of breathtaking waterfalls meandering past lush, verdant, and humid forests of thick moss-covered trees. I found myself bushwhacking to an old and condemned bridge taken off current PCT maps but still left on my 2005 data book. I irreverently trudged over the precarious trestle with my gang of miscreants nervously watching. Comically, each one followed me and waited as the rest of the group crossed one at a time. It was either this bridge or a difficult stone-to-stone hop and ford across a rushing glacial fed river. The scenery and misadventure had me believing that I was in a deleted scene of the movie, The Goonies. I have posted a picture of Tunnel Falls. The trail goes behind a tunnel of the 50+ foot waterfall and is the single coolest thing I have seen this trip. The partners in crime that I have been hiking with are: Hamburger, a painfully looking thin, 62 yr old retiree and tall German from, (you guessed it) Hamburg, Germany, Legion a boisterous, loud-mouthed, ex-LARPer from New England, and Steady a 28 yr old very good-looking, introvert from upper peninsula Michigan. She is a GPS master and in the constant know of trail closures, re-routes, weather, and water source locations. She has allowed me and the rest of the group to not worry about logistics and has freed me up to focus on my book and musical ideas. The other great thing about her is that she shares the day’s news every night around the dinner “table” which always leads to lively discourse. As a whole the group are all former successful AT “thru-hikers” and we all share a prevailing philosophy of doing no more than 20 miles a day with very little”zero” days. The theme being slow and steady like the tortoise. This way of hiking has allowed my feet to heal and given me more time to write and read at camp.
On the day out of Etna, CA- I got caught on an exposed ridge during a thunderstorm. I watched and heard a loud boom within 2 miles of me as lightening hit a tree! The air became charged and singed around me as I observed with the hairs on my arms standing up; the surreal bolt sustain for at least a full second and strike a tall tree. The tree started smoking and once it got dark, I could see the orange flames spreading in every direction. A Czech couple nearby attempted reporting the fire by calling 911 but couldn’t get any cell reception. The next few miles into Seiad Valley were entertaining. Evidently this region of Northern California is very politically conservative as evidenced by the “No Monument!” and “Jefferson State” slogans spray painted on the numerous corrugated sheds and trailer homes. The majority of the local denizens are rallying against a proposed law to make their area a national monument. The shirtless, early thirties, bald pate proprietor of the Seiad RV Campground explained to me that the monument status would hamper their logging and development efforts and drive out jobs. Like the Texas Secessionists, he also believes that Northern California and parts of Southern Oregon need to be a different state known as Jefferson, the 51st state. http://www.jeffersonstate.com/ Due to my contrary nature, I couldn’t resist writing “Monument Now!” and “Keep Jefferson out of the Union” in the trail register at the cafe/grocery store.
Oregon has been a blur, literally and figuratively. It is only 450 miles from border to border and when I started the hike through the state; there were 4 major wildfires burning. I have had to do about 55 miles of painful highway and road walking to get around the closed sections of trail. Once in Oregon, I spent a day off in Ashland eating at an AYCE Indian buffet with Steady and sampling a few of the local ales at the Rock Bottom Brewery. Before the trip I had a physical to make sure I was in good condition to make this trek. My doctor recommended to me to drink more beer daily to help raise my good cholesterol. So to make my doc proud I have been trying to imbibe pints of medicine at each one of these towns. Luckily for my health it turns out Oregon has the most breweries of any state.
Leaving Ashland, the next stretch of trail loops past unspectacular wilderness running the gamut from dense trees, to less dense tress, to sparse trees to burned out trees until finally reaching Crater Lake, NP. Crater lake is a ridiculously clear blue and very deep lake formed after the collapse of the Mazama volcano top. I spent several hours in contemplation overlooking it and enjoying my lunch. The weather through that stretch was rainy and cold with temps below freezing for a couple of nights. Finally, my 15 degree sleeping bag felt comfortable! After Crater Lake and since then, the PCT has been wonderful. It goes past all three Sister peaks, Mt. Washington, Three Fingered Jack, Mt. Jefferson and finally Mt. Hood. I saw views of Mt. Saint-Helens, Mt Rainier (looks a lot better in 3D than on the cans of beer of the same namesake), and Mt Adams before descending into Cascade Locks. The past 100 miles have been berry nice. I have been able to forage at least a half gallon of blueberries, thimble berries, raspberries and the most delicious berry of all time-the huckleberry everyday. I put them on my granola/peanut butter tortilla wraps for lunch and breakfast and can’t seem to get enough of them. I have had to identify which berries are edible and which ones are not by tasting them all. So far my technique has been working but sooner or later it may behoove me to get a book on them. It looks like Washington is going to be beautiful, remote, and rugged with cooler temps and possibly rain already rumored to be heading my way. It doesn’t look like I will be taking off another day until I reach the end so my next blog entry will probably be the last for this trip. Stay tuned as I sum up and conclude this adventure. -Skeeter