How quickly things can go wrong and ruin a day. One false move and it’s all shot. I made three bad moves this morning.
The Noodleheads and I walked most of the way down to Cascade Locks together. The Eagle Creek trail is through dense forest but has the interesting creek as scenery. The general setting reminded me of the Waitakere ranges west of Auckland, the creek bed especially. Casually flowing over mossy rocks and downed trees one moment, then plunging down deep chasms and waterfalls the next. At such times the trail was hewn straight into the cliff face. A metal rope was attached to the side for the agrophobic amongst us. The highlight of the this trail, and the reason I was prepared to divert form the official PCT was Tunnel Falls where the path goes into the cliff wall behind the waterfall. It was definitely worth the trip.
I went on ahead when the others needed a break and that’s when things went awry. I was supposed to find Gorge Trail 400 at the “far end of the parking lot”, but all I could see was a paved road going up hill (which was the right way apparently) so I carried on down towards the highway and found the start of the cycle path that intersects with GT400 later and went that way.
I rushed along there, still eager to reach town and get an ice-cream, until I saw the side trail to return to the PCT. Though Yogi’s book said the bike path was easier I thought I should approach town the official way so took the side trail. Mistake #2. It was up hill. A lot of it, and by the cobwebs I now know not many take this path. I raced along this stretch too, dreaming of milkshakes and cookies. A good 20 mins later I came to an intersection. Dirt road running perpendicular to the trail. On the opposite corner a sign pointed to the sky to “PCT South” and pointed left to “PCT North” From the angle of the sign I thought skyward meant up the dirt road so I took the path straight ahead of me. Mistake #3. I charged along it, now longing for just for a place to sit. I’m very glad I talked with the first day hikers I saw because they questioned my route and managed to convince me I was now south-bound. Grrrr. I ran back to the sign, nearly a mile I’d say, and stomped down the dirt road into Cascade Locks thus ending Oregon.
In town I picked up boxes and mail. One letter had been diverted from Echo Lake two months ago, so I can see what Bex was thinking waaaaay back then. The boxes brought me new shoes and socks. My current Montrail Continental Divides have done 1,000 miles. I’m quite impressed that they lasted so long and hope this new pair do too. I also got a new tent (and homemade chocolate brownies!) to borrow from Blue Sky. I got through Oregon only using mine once, but Washington is only going to be wetter.
Now I’m at Riddle’s house though she isn’t. Stretch is her cousin and the Noodleheads passed on her phone number so I’m warm and comfortable and resting well for the final push. Just 500 miles and suddenly I’ll be going home for real. I dreamt of home last night. I was there and happy but then realised I hadn’t finished the trail. I panicked. How could I go home unfinished? I had to get back there, I needed to reach Canada. I do and I will. Just four weeks.
Quote of the day: “You look like you’ve been hiking for days” – a day hiker heading up to Tunnel Falls. If only she knew.
More photos of this day’s journey can be found at Little Crater Lake to Cascade LocksDistance today: 14.6 miles. Total distance: 2155.1 miles