Part 17 - Crossing The Bridge
Leaving Cascade Locks was difficult. It was a fun place, there was still good times to be had there. It was also a place I easily could have put my journey on hold and come back to finish the trail later. My stubbornness would hold true and I’d leave town mid-morning to walk across The Bridge of the Gods and climb back up into the Cascade Mountains.
It was a moody, rainy and windy day, the kind I like. It felt like the climb out of town went on forever. Everytime I hit what should have been a mountain vista, it was fogged out. There were less people on trail than I had expected, they also weren’t going as far as I expected. I was lucky, as my day dragged on I found the last spot to setup a tent right before a big climb. That night I would make new friends and enjoy one of the best nights of sleep I think I’ve had all trail.
The next morning was a full day and my goal was ambitious. I didn’t know how the day would play out but I made it 15 miles to Panther Creek Camp Ground before noon, so I planned to do a 30 so I could end the next day with a night in Trout Lake. That would give me sometime to relax there the next morning. The day turned into a 36 mile day, my biggest yet. I had a shin split start acting up midday so the afternoon was miserable as well. Luckily I got to end my day with a cold soak of the legs and feet in a beautiful lake.
On Tuesday, I’d wake up cold and quickly make my way 23 miles to Trout Lake. It’d be a fast but good feeling morning. I was looking forward to town and I’m looking forward to towns the next few days and weeks. Luckily the carries are short in Washington and the outpost of civilization are abundant. Dinner was a delicious Reuben sandwich and the locals had plenty of free drinks to hand out to thirsty hikers. I ran into Will again before he sprinted back out to the trail and enjoyed getting to know new friends better while we relaxed for the evening.
That night in town I posted my last blog of Oregon on Facebook with a quippy joke about Venmoing me for a breakfast fund. To my great surprise so many friends and family reached out and sent money for food, drinks and whatever else was needed for the rest of the journey. I can’t begin to tell you how good that breakfast tasted…. I also can’t put into words how thankful I am for everyone who reached out. I’m only ~15 days (~350 miles) from the finish as of posting this but sometimes it seems like there’s still eons to go. Knowing that there’s people rooting for me all over and that would kill to have the opportunity I’ve had keeps me going.
I left Trout Lake on Wednesday the 25th and began the climb up the western slopes of Mt. Adams. It’s a beautiful peak I’d be starring at for days and thought about trying to climb a little over a year ago. That afternoon hike was difficult, my mind wandered wildly but the terrain was beautiful and rewarding to hike in. Glacial valleys, alpine Meadows and beautiful mountain vistas. By the evening I had made my way to Killien Creek and found my friend Dirty Nucks there. We chatted over dinner and discussed our mixed feelings about these last few weeks of trail ahead. We were both tired, but we were both set on finishing.
The following morning was cold but I quickly found friends. The miles flew by as I hiked and talked with Double Barrel, First Class, Tea Time, Mona Lisa and Dirty Nucks. By the end of the day I would meet Five Star and Cyclops. The day would involve a lunch full of laughs, blueberry picking and amazing Mountain Views entering Goat Rocks Wilderness. We’d all camp together that evening just over Cispus Pass. It’d be a rainy evening with many laughs and as many tents as you could ever fit in a 20’x10’ space. They were great company.
The day heading into White Pass we all got up together and began the climb up Old Snowy. It was fun to do the miles with other people, it was enjoyable to share the wonderful views with friends. At the top we had views of Mt. Adam’s (which we were leaving), Mt. Rainier (where we were heading) and Mt. Saint Helens off in the distance. I hit a point in the day where I wanted nothing more than to just slow down and enjoy it but I was in a rush to keep on schedule for other plans the following days. As we descended down the Knife’s Edge on Old Snowy the fog closed in and I sped up. I’d get to White Pass a few hours before everyone else, resupply, charge up and continue on just after they all wandered in.
It was good to know I could still make new friends this late in the game and it was good to know they wouldn’t get too far ahead when I took time off later in the week. I hope for the rest of my hike to be filled with moments like these. New friends, beautiful views and lots of laughing. I have 350 miles to go. It’s a long way, but I’m ready for it.
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The PCT stands for the Pacific Crest Trail, a 2,653 route extending from Mexico to Canada along the west coast of the United States. Every year several thousands attempt it and only a few hundred finish.