Miles Hiked: 25.2
PCT Mileage: 1897.3
This morning I woke up at the Cascade Locks Park in my cowboy camp. I was too tired to pitch my tent last night despite sleeping in town. Usually I prefer to have some privacy when sleeping in public. It was a cool night. The first cool night on the trail in a long time. We took our time packing up in the morning and saying goodbye to Rigo. I’m so thankful he drove us all the way here from Bend! Midnight, Trail Diva, and myself all left the campground together. We walked down the street of the town called Cascade Locks. I remember going on vacation and visiting this place when I was 18. I had no idea the PCT went through here. I recognized an ice cream shop I ate at then. We stopped for coffee at a local place and I noticed a PCT monument across the street. It looked just like the one at the Northern Terminus. We made our way up to the toll bridge called “Bridge of the Gods” it is called this because it is believed that an ancient rock bridge spanned the Columbia River here. It is hard to imagine a rock formation that existing. Luckily it is free for pedestrians to walk across the bridge. There is no sidewalk but the toll guard was very nice in letting us through. It made me feel safer about walking across knowing that people do it all the time. Walking across this bridge is something I’ve been looking forward to for a long time. I just thought I would be able to walk all the way here on a continuous footpath. Regardless I am happy we made the decision to flip flop up to Washington. I’m sure it will feel weird for a few days. The bridge was windy and I held on to my hat afraid that it would blow away. The bridge also had holes in it so I could see the river beneath my feet. It was a bit frightening. I was mostly worried about dropping my phone or poles down there. We passed a “Welcome to Washington” sign and it became official. On the other side of the bridge we all got our pictures taken in front of the iconic “Bridge of the Gods” sign. Luckily there wasn’t too much traffic at 8:30 in the morning.
We crossed the road and headed on to the trail. It was a magical wonderland of green ferns and moss everywhere. I was immediately in love with Washington. It felt wet too. Like I wasn’t in danger of fire. I was sweating like crazy. It is way more humid here than anywhere else on the trail. Cascade Locks is the lowest point on the PCT at 77 feet above sea level. As you can imagine the climb out was a big one. Despite the double zero my feet still hurt but I didn’t feel the extreme fatigue I’ve been having the last two weeks. I needed those two days off so bad. It really helped me get out of the funk I was in. I told myself I didn’t want to hike any more 30 mile days unless it was in Oregon. Washington is time to slow down and enjoy myself a little more. To take longer breaks and get to camp early. To see all the scenic things and hang out with my friends. I’m so glad Trail Diva, Midnight, and I all decided to do this together. Even though it was a big climb I was so distracted by how pretty everything was and the trail felt easy. At the first break I filtered some water and made a little pizza for lunch with a Boboli crust, tomato paste, and pepperoni. It was good but acidic and greasy.
I continued climbing and then stopped at the top where I could see a view of Hood and Adams peaking through the trees. My shirt was drenched in sweat. We all took our evening break together at Rock Creek and it was amazing. There were lots of SOBOs there, the most I have seen at once. I ate dinner and relaxed for about an hour. The perfect amount of time. I chatted with the SOBOs and confirmed that we didn’t have any snow ahead to worry about. After dinner we climbed up to our campsite on a dirt road. On the way I spotted a side trail that went steeply up. It looked like a view at the top. I dropped my pack and climbed up for about ten minutes before I was rewarded with an amazing view. I could see both Hood and Adams at the same time. I cried. I couldn’t believe I was in Washington. The final piece of my wildest dream. I was so glad I took the time to go up there in the evening and check it out. It was the first really nice view I got in Washington and really hit me how close I am to the end of this journey. I think I will cry every day in Washington just like I did in the 100 mile wilderness on the AT. Something about a journeys end is emotional, especially this one because finishing this hike is about way more than just the PCT. It’s about all the hiking I’ve done in the last four years and all the things I’ve sacrificed to get here, even before I set foot on the Appalachian Trail. After taking the time to myself, I hiked one more mile to meet everyone at camp.
It was 8pm and I took my time setting up. I was so happy to have a chill day for once and I’m looking forward to many more days in Washington to be like this. Overall it felt like an easy day. I’m expecting things to get harder I just don’t know when.