October 6, 2011 § 1 Comment
Bend to Cascade Locks – 148 miles 7 days Total: 2155 miles 137 days + 21 zero days
There are days when you are tired and you wish that for just one day your body wasn’t sore, there are cold and rainy days, there are days when you simply long for a “normal” life, there are days when you want to give the trail up and go home. And then there are days like when you are standing on a rise looking at the north face of Mt Jefferson and you’re glad you held on. As your gaze drops down, you can see Russell Lake, then as you follow the line of the earth, you take in the gorgeous meadow of Jefferson Park, dotted with pine trees, and then your eyes are forced to rise as they hit the massive shape of Mt Jefferson, topped by impressive glaciers. And once you get to the top of the rise and look ahead, you get the first glimpse of another lonely and distant giant, Mt Hood.
But that’s all we’ve seen of Mt Hood for the next few days as the weather turned bad, again.
We stopped at Timberline Lodge to dry out. As true hiker trash till the end, we raided the breakfast buffet there, we left with our pockets full of pieces of cake wrapped in napkins and we resupplied on snacks at the vending machines. The lodge is situated at the base of Mt Hood but you had to know it was there behind the white curtain of mist and clouds, we couldn’t see a thing.
But soon we walked through beautiful forests where there was plenty to see. Moss covering the ground, lichens growing on tree trunks and hanging from branches, fern leaves glistening in the rain, the water of Ramona Falls cascading down a mossy stone wall, vegetation of all sorts and shapes, everything so green.
And then, one morning, we had just folded the tent completely soaked and hiked only for a moment when there was a break through the trees. All white from perpetual glaciers and freshly fallen snow, its summit still wrapped in immaculate clouds, like a divine apparition in the bright white light filtering from the clouds, there it was, Mt Hood.
On our way down to Cascade Locks we passed a dozen waterfalls. The trail even went through a tunnel in the rock behind one of the waterfalls. As they say here, it was badass!
The seasons are definitely changing. Bushes and maple trees along the trail are staging autumn colors. We’re often wearing our hat and gloves. It’s still dark now when we wake up at 6am and the light is fading fast from 7pm. The challenge nowadays is to stay dry and warm. No matter how breathable Gore-Tex is, no matter that you’ve fully opened the pit zippers on your rain jacket and the sides on your rain pants, when you hike, you’re boiling in there. So your gear keeps you dry from the rain, but you’re wet from sweat. As long as you hike, you’re fine but as soon as you stop, you get cold. Same story with the tent. It holds the rain well, but with the humidity and cold at night condensation forms on the inside and it’s all wet. And backpacker designers thought hikers don’t use the many outside straps and the full volume of their packs, they devised the raincovers way to small!
After we got sick, we couldn’t stand much of the food we used to eat on the trail. That’s what happens when you eat more or less the same for 5 months! We had gotten fed up of some food before and we had just replaced the snack we couldn’t stand anymore by a new one but it had only been one item at a time. Here it’s been the whole strategy that we knew worked well that failed us and we had to figure out a whole new one, finding snacks we would like to eat on the trail and that would bring us enough calories.
Tomorrow we’ll leave Oregon. We’ll cross the Columbia River and step into Washington on the Bridge of the Gods. Just that name adds a touch of grandeur to our entrance into the final American state of our journey. We loved Oregon. As a waiter at the brewery in Bend put it, it’s a gem along the west coast. We would recommend this section of the PCT to anyone and we’ll probably be back ourselves some day.
There will certainly be more of those days when we want to give up. But we’ll remember Mt Jefferson and Mt Hood and we’ll hang on. Because there will certainly be more of those days too. And anyway there are 500 miles left, it’s gonna be hard to stop us now, we have lost all reason a while ago and have been hiking on a gut feeling ever since, we’re totally insane, out of control and damn too stubborn, we’re going to Canada!