Leaving Bend after our brief reprieve was trickier than anticipated. With fires in Oregon pushing hikers up the trail buses filled up in record time and trail angels were inundated with requests for shuttles. We eventually snagged a pricey Lyft to get us to a trail head past the Lionshead fire closure, and were able to resume the trail.
Just a day after being back on trail we were able to visit the Timberline Lodge. Probably best recognized as being the exterior of the Outlook Hotel in Stanley Kubrick’s “The Shining”, to most hikers this is known as the location of a grandiose breakfast or lunch buffet. Not sure that our hiker hunger was developed enough to do a $25 buffet justice, we settled on a beer one evening in a very cozy bar nook. The next day we lucked out, a photo shoot had over- ordered catering so we scored fruit and vegan breakfast burritos! (Free food!!!)
Towards the end of Oregon we took another scenic alternate off the PCT in order to see Tunnel Falls. The Eagle Creek alternate had a couple of waterfalls- with the highlight being able to walk through a tunnel behind one of them!
Then we were in Cascade Locks- the final Oregon town until we can go back for the closed section. Here we encountered even more of the “hiker bubble”. With fires pushing hikers North and this being the ideal month to hike Washington- we were now in a similar range to many other hikers. On one hand it was fun to see familiar faces and catch up with a few hikers we hadn’t seen for a bit- on the other hand it meant the small grocery was very well picked over. Like bipedal locusts- hikers had cleaned it out of the common hiker staples, and with small towns ahead in Washington this might mean trickier re-supplies.
So far the terrain has been pretty mild, though the state promises more intense climbs to come. The wildflowers are in bloom with an amazing variety in some places, and the high snow year means plenty of cool ice melt streams to enjoy. One of the best aspects of the PCT has been the frequent and amazing views. We can see our progress as we approach various mountains and then watch them grow further away as we hike past them and new peaks come into closer view.
A fun and interesting aspect of the trail is seeing how various towns embrace the hikers and hiker season. A teeny town called Trout Lake must have realized that with hikers comes the hunger- and with a few easy amenities you can become a popular waypoint on the PCT. The town offers shuttles (see also- retired gentlemen with pick up trucks) to town where you can hit the cafe, and visit the general store. The general store had shower and laundry facilities, plus camping in the back yard for hikers. We saw at least 2 dozen hikers lounging in the yard. Plus the store had obviously polled hikers- offering all the common and desired food staples.
A highlight of Washington so far has been Goat Rocks Wilderness and hiking the Knife’s edge. While the goats sadly did not make an appearance we had amazing views of Mt. Adams which we had passed near Trout Lake, Mt. St. Helens and the increasingly closer Mt. Rainier. The views were absolutely phenomenal, and we spent the day soaking them in.
I was very grateful for the timing of getting to hike Goat Wildnerness, because a day after the amazing views we managed to contract a less than desirable bug. Colby woke up and promptly needed to… purge. We aren’t sure if some of the pond water managed to get into his water bottle untreated, or if it was norovirus or something akin. He toughed out the 13 miles to get out of the woods and into town despite very undesirable side effects. Luckily we had managed to snag a room for the night with some signal on the mountain top- and we booked another night anticipating he might need some recovery time. This was extremely convenient- as 24 hours after Colby had his bout I had my 12 hour purge period. Luckily we are both on the mend, with another night in the cute town of Packwood.
We have only 3 more trail towns to hit as we hike North towards Canada and hopefully finish up Washington state. The highly praised Cascades are up ahead, with undoubtedly more amazing views to come.