PCT Mile 2190.0 to 2155
We started with a shuttle from "Luna" from Cascade Locks to Panther Creek with a stop for breakfast enroute. We aimed for a breakfast place in Carson, WA but despite the hours on the sign at the place it was closed. So we turned around and went back to Stevenson, WA and went to "The big T's" diner, your typical breakfast diner with with a decent view of the Columbia River. Back on our way and after passing accidentaly by where the trail crosses the road we stopped to change drivers and get out our gear. The first several miles were cool, almost needing to pull out gloves but eventually we got into some sunnier areas and the day began to warm. The first few miles were meandering, not really climbing or descending with bridges crossing two different streams along the way. We passed a few homes on the edge of fields and then began to climb. It was primarily in the trees with not many views other than a great rock overlook with a view of the loud creek below and the fields that we had just passed before the start of the climb. We did not see any other people that first day other than a truck that was driving by on a dirt road that we crossed. More climbing and after a check of the map we figured that the long downhill was soon to start. We started to get tired miles before our planned campsite due to having early season legs and checked the map for alternatives but decided to push on setting us up to do the hike in just 2 days instead of 3 due to looming bad weather on the 3rd day. A stream crossing with a washed out bridge about a half mile from our campsite left us with cold feet, BooBoo walking straight through the creek and Hedgehog taking off his shoes and socks to cross.
We get to the bridge that crossed Rock Creek and our planned campsite and were impressed by the swimming hole created by the bend in the creek but initially disappointed with the small campsite very close to the water's edge. We dropped packs and wandered up a make-shift trail going up a steep hill and found a great campsite, so we grabbed our packs and set up there. Shelter first, meaning our tent up, and then we sat a little ways away to make dinner and hot drinks after filtering water from the creek. We tried a freeze dried fajita mix and it was not bad or great, just ok. And then hot chocolate to keep up warm. We also had dessert that was an add cold water creme brule that tasted better while out camping as always, compared to when we have eaten it at home. It was dark by 6:30p and we were in our bags for warmth and because we were warn out. Hiked about 16 miles on the first day.
Day 2 started with a cool morning and hitting snooze for 30 minutes to allow the sun to warm up the air a little before crawling out of our sleeping bags. We were fine, but just a little too cold overnight in our lighter weight camping gear. Once we got going we warmed up quick since we started with a several mile long climb right away. It was chilly though as we were on the shaded side of the hill. Once we got a little higher and on the other side of the ridge we warmed up, got some sun, and some great views of Mt Adams, Mt St Helens, and then Mt Rainier. On the top of the ridge in an old clearcut area we found a great campsite with views north and south of the area's glaciers. Such a neat campsite, just no water nearby that was obvious. We descended past the turnoff to Table Mountain but wanted to get to the car and cross the Bridge of the Gods in the daylight so we skipped the side trail for the day with a plan to return to do it as a dayhike. Lunch was in the sun with a great view of Mt Hood and the Columbia River (first picture below), consisted of salami, string cheese, avocado on tortillas (same lunch yesterday) with the addition of instant coffee mixed with hot chocolate powder for motivation.
The next 4.5 hours were mostly downhill, some over very rocky sections. The last few miles meandered past some small lakes and dirt roads, going under powerlines. It felt like we were more in no-man's land rather than wildnerness. This is where we saw a combined 9 people out hiking or exploring the lakes. The highway gradually got louder and we knew we were getting close, certainly a little anxious about the bridge crossing. We saw a road sign from the trail that said 1/2 mile to bridge but that felt like a lot more. The tool for pedestrians said 50c each and I checked that I had a dollar to cover both of us. I made sure I stayed looking ahead as we crossed the grated part, Hedgehog said he looked down a few times and got a little vertigo with the Columbia River being so far down below the bridge and the wind blowing. We got to the toll booth, the lady waived off our dollar after she asked if we were hiking the trail, we told her only a section but she waived off our dollar fare again. We told her thanks and walked across the little park to our car that Luna had left for us. We hiked roughly 18 miles and we were tired and very hungry. Plan A was to go to the little drive through ice cream place in Cascade Locks, and to our luck it was open. Root beer floats were amazing, and HH got a cheeseburger. About an hour drive home with a little rush hour congestion, showers and then lounging on the couch as we were both pretty spent but glad to get a little backpacking in so early in the season. We did not see any snow along the trail but in some shady spots there was frozen ground that made a fun crunching noise as we hiked through.
Next few hikes will be Trout Lake back to Panther Creek and Ollalie Lake South to some road crossings depending on how many days we have available and the terrain.