Great Western Loop: Day 140 - 142: Trout Lake to Cascade Locks
Updated: Sep 6, 2021
Day 140: Trail magic! (34miles)
I had camped right behind the General Store in Trout Lake and went back to the trail with the first shuttle of the day. The weather looked rather promising down here in the valley and so I was quite optimistic.
Just half an hour my mood would drop.
As soon as we got closer to the trail and the mountains rain set in.
Several miles later I heard rumours about Trailmagic some 4 miles further south and I started pushing for it. Trailmagic on trail usually means that random people (usually locals) offer some free drinks, or hot food for hikers on the trail.
Just after 1pm I arrived at the site and found a few cars and a nice tent, where already several hikers were enjoying some hot dogs. I immediately joined them, had two hot dogs with relish and a few sodas, while talking to the other people.
I didn't stay long, because I got really cold in this wet and very windy weather. I just had to keep moving to stay warm and so I quickly moved out.
Just before 6pm I hiked over Berry Mountain and the weather suddenly changed. On the way up, I hiked through thick layers of cold and wet clouds, but as I descended on the other side, I finally got some sunshine. It's remarkable how much impact just a few rays of sunshine can have on your overall mood. This lead to a short and confused interaction with another hike. While I was still dressed in full rain gear, he was dressed in full summer mode and we both looked at each other slightly suprised. It turned out, that he hadn't had any rain that day at all, while I had been wet and cold for hours.
Day 141: The horde! (28miles)
I left my campsite close to a piped spring with the anticipation of meeting a lot of hikers. The "PCT Trail Days" event in Cascade Locks had just ended and so I was expecting to run into the bubble of northbound hikers. I started counting them early on and by noon I had already met 75 (!) hikers.
With the expectation of crowded campsites and my desire to finally end the Washington section of the PCT I decided to take a shortcut into town.
Instead of following the trail - which I knew to be quite boring anyways - I left the trail at the Wind River Road and hiked via Carson and Stevenson to Cascade Locks.
My last challenge of the day was crossing the Bridge of the God's, which marks the border between Oregon and Washington.
By now I have made it through raging rivers and over some crazy mountain traverses, but this bridge still freaks me out.
The bridge wasn't built for foot traffic and when two cars pass each other it gets really narrow. In addition to that, the floor of that bridge is a kind of grid with gaps big enough that a smartphone might fall through. That means you can constantly see the river below your feet, which always makes me feel quite uncomfortable...
(Bridge of the God's from Cascade Locks)
Anyways...I "survived" crossing the bridge and decided to take a zero day in CascadeLocks, to inform myself about the recent trail closures in Northern California and Oregon and to develop a plan of how to bypass them.
Day 142: Zero day (0miles)
Day 142 was uneventful. I spent the day updating the blog and reading about different options to get around the fire closures. The local supermarket still suffered major shortages from the recent hiker invasion.
In the afternoon I met Barbara, whom I knew from our German PCT Facebook community. We'd been in touch for a few months via Facebook and now finally met face 2 face, which was really nice.
Upon extending my stay from 1 night to 2 nights I ran into some issues with the motel. I got told that my credit card declined the payment. This left me rather suprised as I haven't had any issues before. The motel staff tried running the card again and again, but couldn't get the payment authorized. I was asked to call my bank and inquire for potential reason. I did so just before breakfast and got told by my bank that everything was fine with my card and that the issue must be on the motel's side. So I went back to the receptionist, who than finally realized that they had me in their system as a US citizen, which required them to link a zip code to my credit card, which didn't exist. (German credit cards are not linked to a zip code). After this was fixed, the payment finally went through.
All in all Washington had been rough for me this year. In 2018 it was the section I enjoyed the most for its scenery, but with all the smoke and the rain it had been a tough mental challenge in 2021. My mileage has been quite impressive for this immensely challenging terrain, but I feel more and more tired and I know that I have no more reserves left.
Nevertheless, this year I'm not here for the views, or for relaxing in the wilderness. I'm here to achieve something that has never been done before and so I'll move on until the job is done...or until the US government kicks me out.