Mile 2123.8 to mile 2146.8 (23 miles, 37 km)
On waking it was dark but time to get moving and complete Oregon!
Thick smoke still obscures the sky, blown in from distant fires, nothing close by. It’s like the sun has a filter placed over it as it rises. A red dot in the sky and casting an eerie light through the trees. Up high on a ridge the views are obscured by smoke as well.
Much of the morning is spent climbing and descending; climbing and descending once again.
I really wanted to hike the Eagle Creek alternate trail as it passes under and behind the famous Eagle Falls but unfortunately the trail is still closed from a fire last year. For some reason last year a couple of kids thought it would be fun to shoot fireworks into the dried out summer scrub and watch it burn. Apparently they were caught laughing about the whole thing at the time. Anyway it turned into a major fire threatening Cascade Locks and jumping the Columbia River, closing the PCT and Eagle Creek trail. A huge effort was made to reopen the PCT for this seasons and crews are still working on reinstating the Eagle Creek Trail. It will be opened in Oct.
The silly kids were caught, charged and found guilty and now have to pay compensation to the effect of $14M – way to ruin your life.
There were quite a few miles to hike through this blacken forest. Hats off for getting the PCT opened though. Looks like a lot of work was gone into getting this completed.
I was playing leap frog with Taco and Craynip for quite a while until we all ended up at a lake past the Eagle Creek junction, stopping for a break and to top up on water. I first met these guys back in Big Lake and we’ve been crossing paths daily since.
Climbing up out of the lake a long ridge line is reached and the trail flattens, easing tiered legs muscles. All within the confines of thick trees with few views unfortunately.
It wasn’t until approximately 5 miles from Cascade Locks, on a switch back, that a view presented itself. Looking straight down to the small town and the huge Columbia River marking the border between Oregon and Washington. The valley was choked with smoke.
From here it was down, down, down on a series of steep switchbacks to the Bridge of the Gods.
If you have read the book or seen the movie ‘Wild’ the Bridge of the Gods is where Cheryl Strayed ends her journey on the PCT.
I’ve waited a long time to reach this bridge and was super excited to have made it. This essentially marks the end of Oregon. The border is actually in the middle of the bridge and I won’t cross it for another day or two but for now it will do.
There is a huge PCT sign on the bridge marking the trail that I will continue to follow into Washington after a zero day in Cascade Locks.
Time to check into my hotel and take a much needed shower.