Saturday, August 24, 2019

WA/OR PCT Part 7

Mon 7-22 Day 17

Left miserable, dirty camp about 5:15 am.  Big climb (about 3000 feet).  Russell Creek crossing was a little dicey.  No way to cross without getting my feet wet.  Oregon PCT may be relatively flat, but dog-gonit, most of the day was slow going with gnarly rocks and tree roots.  And in places, big steps to take.  Also quite a bit of snow.  Jefferson Park is very scenic.  At 3:30 pm I finally hit the 20 mile mark. At Ollalie Lake, a Trail Angel was offering to cook a hamburger.  I really wanted the hamburger but passed to see if I could pull 25 miles.  I did, about 5:45 pm

I did the math.  If I didn't pick up the pace, I would not make Cascade Locks in time on Friday to get my resupply boxes, which also includes new shoes.  The lava rock has done a number to the shoes I've been wearing. 

I have encountered the same thing three times now.  I'm hiking along when suddenly, I am in the middle of a swarm of butterflies.  They are orange, black, and white.

I've run into a young woman from Kentucky.  She lives in Utah now and really loves the west.  Her trail name is Scrappy.  I bet you can guess how she got her name.

7/22: PCT mile 2029.5 - Lemiti Creek PCT mile 2054.6 =25 miles  Tomorrow I'll pass the 400 mile mark. 

Tues 7/23 Day 18 Lemiti Creek  PCT mile 2054.6 to PCT mile 2082.5 = 28 miles.

A lot of today was easier hiking.  Not gnarly, not very steep most of the time.  Also today, no unsigned intersections.

I have grown weary of pushing my body to hike more miles than I am in shape for.  I am 14-15 miles from my next resupply (Timberline Lodge) and 62 miles from Cascade Locks, which I must arrive by 4:00 pm Friday.  Two days in a row I have missed out on "Trail Magic" so I could push the miles.

Realistically I am in shape for 20-22 miles a day.  Nine of the last ten days I've done 25-28 miles.  I need to push for the next two days so Friday is easy and getting to Cascade Locks by 4:00 pm is a snap. 

My general goal of 1000 miles in 50 days is a no-brainer.  That would have put me home by August 25.  But when I look at getting home before Garrett comes (he was supposed to have come to Washington to work for a month around August 18) or even in time for our anniversary (August 15)--the miles have to be around 25 daily and no wiggle room.  In Cascade Locks, I'll call Becky and give her an alternative plan that looks promising, but has more logistics

My "Hiker Hunger" is kicking in.  I eat a good supper between 6:00 and 7:00 pm, but by 8:00 to 10:00 pm I am digging into my food sack for Fritos or a granola bar.  Here's tonight's example:

  1. Wheat Thins with peanut butter
  2. Roast Beef dinner 
  3. I polished off all the Fritos and Wheat Thins
  4. I just ate a Snickers bar, Kirkland Nut Bar, and a Nature Valley Oat and Honey bar
Wed. 7/24 PCT mile 2082.5 to Trail side stream PCT mile 2106.7 = 24 miles

Hiking was not bad early.  Had a first view of Mt Hood.  Then as I got closer to Mt Hood, the hiking was harder -- uphill in loose sand. A hiker going south said "Timberline Lodge is just around the bend."  She was correct, but way wrong at the same time. When I saw the Lodge, it was on the other side of a big canyon and it was another mile hiking on the contour of the hill. 
I ate at the lodge--very good, but quite expensive.  For that much money, Becky and I both get a meal.  

When I resumed hiking (12:30), it was okay, BUT there are MANY trails, mostly unsigned.  Difficult to stay on the PCT.  Other PCT hikers had the same issues, but they are using Guthook's app. 

Thurs. 7/25 PCT mile 2106.7 - Indian Spring Campground PCT mile 2125.1 =18.8 miles. 
Hiking went well in the morning and awful in the afternoon.  The past three years, I've done 2500 miles.  Today is the ONLY time after a break that I went the wrong direction.  Hiking along a ridge with almost unvaried tree canopy and underbrush.  I came onto "Squeaky" and found I was going south, not north.  So not as many miles today as I wanted, but I did get in a few "Bonus Miles." All you can do is grin and bear it. 

Six hikers are here--2 from England going south, 2 from Germany going north, Squeaky and me also going north.  

It was nice having people to talk to this evening.  But I should be another three miles up the trail. 

Fri 7/26

Left camp before 5:00 am.  My goal is to get to Cascade Locks before 5:00 pm to get my resupply box.  At Wahtum Lake, an unsigned junction, a lower trail is going around the lake and an upper trail.  Generally, the lower trail is just for access.  Not this time -- the lower trail was the PCT

Then there was a steep, gnarly down-hill section.  I'll take uphill over steep downhill any times.  My knees were screaming at me.  Last few miles were not bad.  Arrived at Cascade Locks at 1:00 pm
Maybe it's the let down after finally arriving but I felt awful.  Town food, shower, resupply boxes, laundry were good but I still felt awful.  I had full intentions of ending my hike at Cascade Locks.  

Sat 7/27  Walking to Bridge of the Gods to take photos of "Entering Washington" sign to show I had officially completed Oregon.  Leaving motel with a considerable limp.  Before reaching the bridge, I said, "Hey, I feel ok!"

I am moving on to Washington.  Plan is to take it one section at a time and to be a little more kind and gentle on Kevin.  

See you up the trail, amigos!

Friday, August 23, 2019

WA/OR PCT part 6 (I think)

Fri 7/19 

Heavy dew, so I pack up tent wet two days in a row.  Camp at Sisters Mirror Lake was nice but buggy--lots of mosquitoes.  Hiked through sub-alpine patches of forest:  Alpine Fir and sparse parks (alpine Lapine, Lomatium, sedges) and in the distance--meadows.  One hiker called today "Diverse," and it was.

Entered an "Obsidian Limited Entry"--no camping without special permit.  I have been with soil scientists or geologists.  There would be "Whoa! Obsidian!" There is so much obsidian in this area, it is ridiculous. Then into lava fields.  In places the trail was very steep and gnarly from all the loose rock.  Around a corner to the Minnie Scott Spring--ice cold water bubbling from the ground.  Wonderful! I loaded up on spring water and passed a couple of lakes. Who wants lake water when they can have spring water? The last 1.2 miles to McKenzie Pass a lava field.  Talk about an ankle turner.

Sisters Mirror Lake PCT mile 1959 to McKenzie Pass PCT mile 1984 = 25 miles.  I am really stove up. My knees ache.  I am very clumsy trying to walk.

At McKenzie Pass--2 cutie oranges, a banana, an apple, 2 cans of sparkling water from those who stopped at McKenzie Pass outhouse tonight.  I will bivvy on north side of outhouse--on a little strip of concrete.  There is no way I could hike three more miles north to the next campsite

Wonderful day! One bummer--I have shin splints in my left leg.  Never had shin splints before.

The bivvy behind the outhouse was not the best.  High winds plus it took quite a while to get settled.  Limited sleep.

Sat. 7/20

Most of the first two and a half of hiking was lava fields--gnarly ankle-turning rock.  SLOW going at best.  I thought it would never end.

I hiked the last few miles to Big Lake Youth Camp with a mom and her two sons.  They are hiking Oregon and have been on trail for four weeks.  Shower, rinsed out socks and shirt.

Big Lake Youth Camp was closed.  Saturday is their day of worship.  They left the hikers' hut open and resupply box was there.  Thanks, Becky!

McKenzie Pass PCT mile 1984 to Big Lake Youth Camp PCT mile 2004 + two miles to and from Big Lake = 22 miles.  Highly disappointing

Sun 7/22

The hike from Big Lake Youth Camp was hot and dry.  Yesterday I left Three Sisters Wilderness and today I entered the Jefferson Wilderness.

I'm north of the lava fields.  But whoever says Oregon PCT is flat can do what I did today:  PCT mile 2004 to PCT mile 2029.5 = 25.5 miles.  This section of trail was gnarly, rocky, and slow going.  Good news! I did 25+ miles.  Bad news: I had nothing left in the tank.

Cascade Locks post office is closed on Saturday and Sunday.  If I can do 25 miles, I can probably make it in time on Friday.  If I miss 5:00 pm Friday I will have to get my resupply box on Monday.  Food I can substitute, but the box at Cascade Locks is especially important as I am getting new shoes.

Phone App Gives Wrong Information

I'm hiking when the trail just doesn't look like the PCT.  No problem, turn on phone.  The HalfMile App says I am 0.16 mile off the PCT.  I back-track and the distance goes down to 90 feet, but then gets farther off.  The phone is responsible for a BONUS 0.33 miles.

Monday, August 19, 2019

Oregon->Washington PCT part 5

Tues July 16 PCT mile 1884-1907 + 3 miles to and from Shelter Cove + 1/3 mile = 26+ miles.

Shower and laundry at Shelter Cove. Also charged phone.  Tim made it to Shelter Cove about  1 1/2 hours after I did.  He is spending the night there.  I got back on trail and up it maybe 1/3 of a mile to a campsite that overlooks the lake.

Note to readers: When I am hiking I can think of many things to write about, but at the end of the day when I am tired it's a different story.  Today (7/17) was no exception.

Wed 7/17 Day 12 mile 1907 near Shelter Cove -> 1933 = 26 miles

Pushing the Envelope
My next resupply stops are Big Lake Youth Camp, Timberline Lodge, and Cascades Locks.  Most of my resupply stops are at resorts, camps, etc., and it doesn't matter when I get there.  But the post office at Cascade Locks is a different story--the post office is only open Monday thru Friday 9:00-5:00 and closed on Saturday and Sunday.  I've been doing the math and calculating my arrival.  I need to do a minimum of 28 miles per day to ensure Friday arrival.

How's the Body Holding Up

  • Back--mostly great (Thanks, Dr Bedford).  It does get tired carrying a pack most of the day with very few breaks.  
  • Knees--okay during the day.  They ache at night, but by morning are ready to go. 
  • Feet--two blisters showed up today.  Left foot on outside of heel below the ankle, Right big toe in a spot I cannot see.  
(Note:  as of 7/22 six of the last seven days have been 25-26 mile days. 

One Mis-step away from Disaster

At an estimated average of 2500 steps per mile, a lot of steps are taken on a 20-25 mile day.  Turns out I am camped near a young woman.  Her name escapes me.  Yesterday she twisted her ankle on a tree root and fell.  Today was a zero-day (no hiking) for her.  She has been going NOBO, but will head south tomorrow.

Why do we stumble or fall? 
  • Inattention to where we are stepping
  • Failure to raise foot high enough to clear obstacle (curb, rock, root, etc)
  • We are tired
  • Distracted. 
On the trail there are four types of obstacles--Rockers and Rollers, Trippers and Slippers.
  • Rocker--shifts front to back or side to side when you step on it.  You can lose your balance, stumble, or even fall
  • Roller--rolls when you step on it--rock, part of tree branch
  • Tripper--just a little or several inches higher than the ground--rock, root, curb, etc.  You stumble and even fall. 
  • Slippers--or slip or what? Whatever is underneath, your foot slips--
    • wet rock, wet wood without bark, ice, snow, some slippers are a frictionless surface--You cannot stand on it: such as algae on a rock in a stream crossing, Ice on wood, sheen of water on ice.  
Thurs July 18  Hiked from Brahana Lake (PCT mile 1933) to Sisters Mirror Lake (PCT mile 1959) = 26 miles

It rained a little during the night.  When I stepped out of the tent, there was a slight drizzle.  So I put on my rain coat and pants.  Ten minutes up the trail it stopped, so I took off the rain set and put on wind breaker.  Later rain gear went back on.  Later yet, we had sun and rain gear came off again. 

Mosquitoes were not bad to horrible.  At camp I had to do some business with my shorts down.  Those pesky mosquitoes must have bitten both cheeks in ten spots.

The Sierras
I have found two hikers that made it through the Sierras.  A lot of people remembered 2017 when two women drowned.  Several said, "It's not worth risking your life for.  I skipped the Sierras and will go back after."

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Oregon-Washington PCT Part 4

July 13--Day 8

I left camp at 5:00 am.  Yesterday and today I hiked through the 2017 wildfire.  In places there is hardly any live vegetation.  The fire must have been high intensity, high severity, or in Texas lingo--One hot hummer. 

I made it to Mazama by 9:20 am.  Shower, resupply box, charge phone and back to the trail.  I forgot to ask about out-going mail.  I hiked to Dutton Creek Camp, then up Dutton Creek Trail to Rim Village.  No campground here.  Last year I talked to a hiker at Rim Village and I thought she said came from a campground.  I have done 18 miles so far today.  I will have to do more to find a place for an inconspicuous bivvy.

The most amazing thing happened.  I am hanging out in the shade near the public restrooms and talked to several people.  After I cooked my hot meal, an Indian woman wanted to talk.  She was very much intrigued by what I am doing.  She asked, "Your wife is ok with all this?"  I told her about the resupply boxes and how the blog worked.  She said, "Your wife is most wonderful!"  You can say that again.  At some point I told her I wanted to take Becky to an Indian Restaurant in Yakima.  She replied, "Indian Restaurants are crap. You come to my house and I feed you and your wife. The real deal."  She was serious and took my name and phone number and gave me hers. 

She gave me her name (very difficult).  Her son her initials are JC.  I can do that.  This was not a coincidence.  Once again God has blessed me beyond belief.  I am completely blown away.  From a different continent, from a different culture, from a different language, but somehow we made a connection

At Rim Village I had 18 miles. I moved on another four miles mostly by road as I have done the lower Rim Trail.  I quit at another overlook of Crater Lake.  Pretty soon I was talking with Bill and Wendy from Houston, TX.  The card he gave me has a photo of his plane.  Sweet looking plane. 

Later yet, I met Greg and Andrea (different last name).  Andrea wants to do the PCT and had lots of questions.  Greg gave me his number, he said to call if I needed anything.  Exchanged contact info with Andrea. 

July 14--Day 9 22 miles Camp 1808.9--1820.9 Road 2-3 miles to and from Mazama Village==4 miles north of Rim Village 

A year ago, it was so smokey, I could hardly see Crater Lake.  I would like to bring Becky.  Pretty Stunning.

I have been playing leap-frog with a hiker named Tim, much younger than I am, like most of the hikers.  Tim is just doing Oregon on the PCT.

I spent the night in an outhouse.  The wind was howling and I was petrified of something blowing into Crater Lake.  Hard to sleep because of the wind. 

July 15. Started hiking before 5:00 am.  More snow patches but going fine.  On a big snow patch, I lost the PCT.  Still dark.  Set my hiking poles as a reference bearing.  I finally used the phone app Halfmile to find the PCT.  The trail switched directions under the snow.  I passed the high point of PCT for Washington and Oregon, then I lost trail again on snow.  Once again, the trail switched directions underneath the snow.  

At Windigo Pass, a hiker showed up.  Not your average hiker--VERY grungy, yellow shirt similar to the one Garrett had.  His trail name was Thirteen.  He did the Appalachian Trail last year in 13 weeks.  He is currently doing 40+ mile days.  

Monday, August 12, 2019

PCT Oregon to Washington Part 3

Two Canadian Women
On Monday I came upon two women from Canada:  Happy Feet (trail name), age 61, from just outside Manning Provential Park; and Gravity, much younger (30 perhaps) from Victoria, BC.

This morning I left camp at 4:37 am.  About 6:30, I came upon the camp of Happy Feet of Gravity.  We hiked together about five miles.  Happy Feet has a strained or torn ligaments in one ankle.  One Tough Gal!

It's looking like I'll be ahead of them now (they are doing smaller mileages in part due to the ankle).  I offered to Trail Angel for them in Washington. 

Trail Magic

Between Callahans were two coolers with pop. I had one each direction.  I also had a Sprite at the truck stop in Ellensburg.  In short order, I have had my yearly quota of pop. 


When I was cooking and dehydrating dinners, I found spaghetti sauce and Alfredo sauce in the pantry.  I added the Alfredo sauce to some cooked hamburger meat and dried it.  I added dehydrated veggies and whole wheat elbow macaroni.  The Alfredo was ok, but not as flavorful as I was hoping.  After hiking 21 miles, I ate the whole dinner.

Last night I had red chile stew with Spanish rice and dehydrated refried beans.  Oh my! Better than any Mexican restaurant I've eaten in both Washington and Oregon.  And by a long shot.


Maybe it's how tired I am physically, but I am having extremely intense dreams.  A dream wakes me up and then I have a hard time going back to sleep.

Tues 7/9 1728 to Forest Service Gravel Road at 1746 21 miles

A light drizzle started around 2:00 pm.  By 3:00 pm I was pooped. No campsite behind or ahead of me, so my tent was pitched in the middle of the gravel road.

About six miles ahead, I have a 2000 foot vertical climb, then easier going the rest of the way to Fish Lake.

Wed 7/10

On the trail at 5:26 am (I slept in a little).  I handled the uphill much better for today.  The high point is elevation 6162 feet.  At mile 1755.2 is a wonderful spring.  The sign said, "This spring has not been tested for drinking safety."  I've worked on a lot of spring developments.  Unless the spring box has fallen in, there is no way the water could be contaminated.  Spring is flowing at least five gallons/minute.  It took five seconds perhaps to fill a quart bottle capturing only a portion of the flow, so I am not treating or filtering the water.

Due to a combination of I felt better and the trail was mostly easy, I had twenty-two miles in by 3:00 pm.  Plenty of time to do 25 or 30 miles.  I was thinking two more miles today, but it will be on the side of a hill with no campsites.  (This turned out to be correct.)

I saw two deer and a blue or ruffled grouse today. 
Earlier in this blog I wrote about my son giving me three goals:

  • Goal 1: Just get on the trail and get started.  Realized on 7/06
  • Goal 2: If you have to crawl, hit the 100 mile mark.  Realized 7/10 with 100 miles done.  
  • Goal 3 will have to come later 
For Goal 2, it says "if you have to crawl,. . ."  Day 1, I think I could have crawled faster than I was hiking. 

Days 1-3--no uphill gear and I was SLOW.  And so I tended to hike with no water to drink nor food to eat.  Tuesday, July 9 and especially, July 10, my pace has been faster.  So I eat and drink more frequently.  In part maybe because I feel better, but the trail is flat for big stretches. 

Today I hiked about a mile through a lava field.  There will be MILES of lava fields to come.  Black rocks are basalt.  Red are cinder cones. 

This afternoon I caught up with a hiker named Brian.  I'm guessing he's in his mid-thirties.  He started on Saturday, same day as I did.  He didn't hike to California border though.  Recently the company he worked for folded.  So he came out west to hike the PCT.  About an Hour after I set up camp, Brian showed up looking very bushed. I went over to his camp to suggest that we have dinner together and share stories.  Brian was already in bed.  Time: 5:15 pm.  At 6:40 pm, Brian popped out of his tent.  Turns out he's from New Jersey, but has lived in California and other places for work. 

Thur 7/11  Left camp at 4:38 am.  The hike to Fish Lake Trail (5.3 miles) was mostly lava/basalt rock.  Made it to Fish Lake at 7:10 am.  Not a soul at the resort.  I'm waiting to get my resupply box, shower, and maybe do laundry.  While I waited, I had breakfast and filled up with water.  I did get my resupply box (thanks, Becky), had a shower, and washed out my shirt and socks. 

From 6:30 am when I left the PCT for Fish Lake until 11:00 am, I was off the PCT for 4.5 hours.  I had seven miles in by 7:00 am.  In the afternoon, I hiked another 14 miles. 

I'm sitting on the deck just above the lake.  I just talked with Becky.  It was good hearing her voice.

Next stop for this caravan is Mazama Village in Crater Lake National Park.

Fri 7/12 Yesterday it was basalt or lava fields.  Today it was slate rocks, since I hiked Slate Peak.

Pesky Devils

Yesterday I came onto a hiker in a head net.  I thought the mosquito population was supposed to be quite low.  But by evening the mosquitoes were much worse.  This morning I rushed breaking camp.  I hoped I could walk away from the problem.  I couldn't and an hour later, I stopped to take drastic measures.  The rascals were veracious and persistent especially with the back of my neck and into my hair.  I finally hit my high bar.  I itched EVERYWHERE.  I put on the head net and Deet over any exposed skin.  I hate using Deet, and I hate the head net.  But I was being eaten alive.

The hiking today was interesting, but it was also hard.  First, there was a lot of blow-down (trees and snags--dead trees--blown across the trail.)  With blow-down, you are stepping over, going around, or swinging under.  Blow-down slows you down.  Second was the rock.  Some parts of the trail are a jumbled mess of rock.  You need to be careful with every step.  Third, and much less of a problem but it exacerbated the situation, were uphill sections of trail. 

This was "set up" day here.  I hiked to position myself for going to Mazama.  I am only twelve miles away.