• JustagermanHiker

Great Western Loop: Day 121 - 123: Northport to Oroville

Day 121: Roadwalk (34miles)

I left Northport at 7am and got a few more supplies at the local gas station, before crossing the Columbia River.

The days weather forecast mentioned rain and so I was hoping for some slight improvements and less smoke.

The trail however remained annoying. All of the upcoming 34miles of that day were on paved or dirt roads. I quickly caught up to Athena, Squat and Mo, who had left earlier and than listened to the audio book of "The subtle art of not giving a fuck". Being so focused on the book, I missed one road junction and accidentally added 3 miles to my day.

Along the road I was passed several times by US border patrol cars and by a fire patrol. It even rained for a few minutes, but those few drops didn't change anything at all.

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(Had to cover mouth and nose due to the smoke)


Day 122: Not much better...(34miles)

On day 122 I finally left the road after a long climb and met a group of hikers. They immediately knew that I was "that German Great Western Loop Hiker", which left me quite suprised. They told me, that they had met MacGyver, who had told them about me - even though MacGyver and I had never met...

I than continued through the smoke towards Copper Butte Mountain and the highway to Republic.

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Just before nightfall I got to a nice spring, just 7miles from the highway and decided to stay at a nearby campsite. While preparing my dinner, I heard a very distant wolf pack, but wasn't bothered by it.


At 1am however, I suddenly woke up to an extremely loud howling, barking and growling as if that wolf pack was sitting right next to my tent. That sound was terrifying and so close that I immediately grabbed my flashlight and my bear spray. I started looking around, but couldn't see any wolves and after some 15minutes it was all quiet again.


Day 123: Evacuated! (22miles)

I got up early and pushed towards the highway to get into Republic. Early on, the weather was nice and sunny.

I made it to the road and the very first car stopped and gave me a 20minute ride to town. Dave, my driver and local rancher,gave me a short rundown on everything interesting I needed to know about the town of 1,000 citizens.

My first stop was the Knotty Pine where I had a Denver Omelette and two pancakes that really filled me up. Here I also met Kevin, another PNT Hiker and soon to be companion.

When I left the restaurant the blue sky was already fading again and more and more smoke was moving in. Even before entering Republic from the east, I had thought about leaving on the west side and skip some 75miles that would have taken me closer to one of the fires. After talking to Kevin and by looking at the sky I decided to follow through with that plan.

I started hiking out of town and soon Kevin and me got offered a ride to the trailhead. From there on we leapfrogged (passing each other) for a while, until we started hiking together. Here in the west, the smoke wasn't an issue, but that would change soon...

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(Thanks, but no thanks. I didn't drink from that...)


Kevin and I hiked together on Toroda Road towards the Lake Bonaparte Resort. The resort was only another 8miles away, but a few locals stopped to tell us about a fire further down the road. We could see the smoke and shortly after several firefighting planes in close formation.

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Just before turning on Bunch Road a local farmer told us, we'd be safe on the road and shouldn't have a problem reaching the resort, as the fire was supposed to be on a ridge. So, Kevin and I hiked on...towards the smoke column.


Just minutes later more and more cars came down the road. A lady stopped and told us about the fire and we mentioned our conversation with the local farmer and our plan to reach Bonaparte Lake Resort. Well, the Lady, Heather, told us that she's the owner of Lake Bonaparte Resort and that she had just ordered the Resort to be evacuated. The fire had already crossed the road and was only 1.5miles from the lake. She had rushed to her house, to get her kids and the most important belongings and now she offered us a ride to a safe place. Suprised by the new situation, we accepted the offer and somehow managed to crawl into the trunk of the already quite full car.

We than drove around the fire and could soon see actual flames on the ridge.

Heather briefly stopped at Lake Bonaparte Resort, while Kevin and I were debating what to do next. We had planned on staying and resupplying at Lake Bonaparte, and at least I didn't bring enough food to hike all the way to the next town of Oroville. Fortunately Heather owned another place in Oroville and was headed that way. So she again offered us a ride and took us all the way into Oroville.


The day ended even more confusing. Upon checking in to the local motel in Oroville, I got asked by the staff if I'm "that German Great Western Loop Hiker"...Once again, I have no idea how they heard about me. Neither MacGyver or any other Hiker I've met, has made it here yet...


Anyways. More important is how remarkably helpful these people here are. Heather really helped us out that day and she clearly had much more to worry about than me and Kevin. She was clearly worried about loosing her house and maybe the resort to the fire, but still was selfless enough to think of me and Kevin. I just hope that everything turns out well for her.


All of that happened just within a few hours and so I'm now much further west than I had anticipated. My next resupply will be on the Pacific Crest Trail, but that's also on fire. The town of Mazama, where I'd like to resupply is under Level 2 (be ready) and Level 3 (leave now) evacuation orders and hardly accessible. I therefore have to hike all the way to Stehekin, some 200miles from Oroville.


Overall, I'm mad about missing those last miles on the trail. I really wanted to stay as close as possible to a continuous footprint, but I guess I didn't really have a choice.






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