Day 133-136: Crossing from Oregon into Washington
Day 133: Little Zigzag Canyon (Mile 2109)-Buck Peak (Mile 2132.5); 23.5 miles
During our morning’s walk, we were excited to see a black bear bounding across the hillside above us. It’s amazing how fast and graceful bears can be, given their size and weight. The bear paused briefly to stare at us, then continued running.
We walked through terrain carved deeply by rivers flowing off Mt. Hood. At Sandy River, we crossed a small log bridge with log poles at either end. The bridge featured a string to grab for stability, and a boot stuck on each pole for decorative purposes.
Before lunch, we reached Muddy Creek. The bridge over this glacial creek was damaged and unsafe, so we had to ford the creek instead. The current was swift, cold, and milky white with sediment from the glacier, so we couldn’t see into it to gauge its depth. We chose the best spot we could, and cautiously walked in.
The water ended up being about knee deep. We crossed without incident, and partially dried out our shoes during lunch.
A few miles later, we entered the Bull Run Reserve watershed. Portland gets some of its water from this area, and the land is protected to preserve water quality. The last of the sunlight filtered through the trees as we walked.
Day 134: Buck Peak (Mile 2132.5)-Cascade Locks (Mile 2155); 22.5 miles
Today we walked in forested solitude amidst large trees.
Our first views of Mount Rainier, Mount Adams, and Mount St. Helens were an intense reminder of how far we’d come.
After some flat walking, we began a big descent of over 3000 feet. As we descended, we caught glimpses of the Columbia River through the trees. We were on the Oregon side of the river, and we could see Washington on the other side.
As we neared the end of the descent, we passed a tall waterfall, recessed back into the rock. It was one of the most beautiful falls we had seen on the hike.
The forest in this area was very wet and beautiful, but also moldy. We had encountered moist environments a number of times in the past few days, and North Star’s mold allergy had flared up, making her very tired and headachy. The extra sleep she required made it difficult to keep up with our itinerary. We were looking forward to our upcoming rest day in town.
Soon we reached the city of Cascade Locks, on the south bank of the Columbia. At under 200 feet, we were close to the lowest elevation we would reach on the entire Pacific Crest Trail.
We immediately headed to the farmer’s market to buy some fruit. The woman at the fruit stand, upon learning we were PCT hikers, gave us a huge bag of peaches for free! We couldn’t imagine a better welcome to Cascade Locks. It was time to rest and eat.
Day 135: Zero in Cascade Locks
Days in town are relaxing for our legs, but busy otherwise. We got right to work grocery shopping, doing laundry, repairing our tent and Shutterbug’s backpack and pants, writing a new blog entry, and completing many smaller tasks.
In the afternoon, we had a welcome break to meet a new friend, Craig, who drove in from Portland. He created the excellent PCT Planner website we used to help plan our thru hike. He surprised us with a huge box of Voodoo Doughnuts, containing all kinds of fun flavors.
We shared a tasty pizza with him at the PCT Pub in town. He’s a good storyteller, and we enjoyed stories about his bike tour of Australia, and his own PCT adventures.
It was a very productive day, and a fun one too.
Day 136: Cascade Locks (Mile 2155)-Snag Creek (Mile 2174.5); 19.5 miles
We woke fresh and ready to cross the Bridge of the Gods from Oregon into Washington. The bridge took us high over the Columbia River. A powerful wind rushed through the river gorge as semi trucks and RVs squeezed past us on the narrow bridge. It was an intensely emotional place, but also a precarious one, so we had to cross quickly.
Having crossed the Oregon/Washington border, we felt a very satisfying sense of completion. We now had only one state left to walk!
The PCT soon left the road and entered the forest, climbing quite a bit. After a few miles, runners in the Bunker to Bonneville 50K trail race began to pass us. We cheered the racers on, especially because we knew running 31 miles on the PCT couldn’t be easy. It was exciting to share the trail with 75 endurance athletes.
After all the runners passed, the trail grew quiet again.
We camped slightly above a creek. Canada seemed within reach.