September 3, 2015
Waterfall on Forest Road 23 on Cougar Crest Fire Alternate (approx. 2243.6) to Tentsite before Walupt Lake Trail Junction (2269.1)
15.5 Alternate miles today (Cougar Crest Fire Closure), 7.6 PCT miles today
2303.7 miles total
Today’s Elevation Gain/Loss: Unknown
There’s really not a ton to say about today. We saw a few little frogs in the trail which was neat, and we listened to hours of our history audiobook, but mostly we just walked along a dirt road in the woods, catching tiny glimpses of Mount Adams once or twice through the trees and waving or exchanging greetings with multiple carloads of hitching hikers as they passed.
We accidentally slept in this morning since our alarm was set but our volume was turned down. It wasn’t a big deal since we planned on hanging out with Mama Bear and Devilfish (our trail angel friend who had joined us for the night) for a bit in the morning, but it meant we didn’t get on “trail” until 7:30am. Actually, after saying goodbyes and grabbing one last donut for the road, Pickles and I looked both ways for traffic and then started out on Forest Road 23 for 15.5 miles of road-walking. We knew the miles would go fast, but we also assumed it would be a rough day on our feet, and we were right on both accounts. Out on the road we could see for miles in either direction which made us feel more comfortable listening to first music and then our book out loud on our speaker knowing that we weren’t bothering anyone else. As the miles rolled by, we found ourselves caught up in America’s Civil War, Leo Tolstoy’s Russia, European Imperialism, and the Chinese-British Opium Wars. Every time a car would drive by we’d pause our book and say hello to the sheepish hikers sitting in the backseat, everyone aware of the somewhat awkward position we were all in because they had chosen to hitch while we maintained continuous steps. At this point in the game we’re all used to everyone “hiking their own hike”, but it still makes for an interesting image when a truck rolls by with hikers piled in the back and within seconds we are literally left in their dust.
We got to the end of the road walk and back on the official PCT just in time to lay out all our gear in the sun (yes, we actually avoided rain today right up until we got into our tent this evening) and eat lunch. My right leg was experiencing some shin splints and both of our feet were unusually tired and sore from walking on road instead of trail, so we didn’t feel like pushing the day’s mileage any harder than we needed to. We agreed that 7 or so more miles would be sufficient and took off down the trail, delighted to be back in the woods on the unlevel single track that we’ve come to feel so comfortable on. A few miles in we reached the boundary for Goat Rocks Wilderness and I got giddy from excitement just thinking about what the next 30 miles or so would hold. I did a short backpacking trip with friends in this area years ago and remember the spectacular views well, but Pickles has never been here and I’m excited that he’ll have more than just trees to look at in the days to come.
We got one small view a mile before camp this evening, but from looking at the maps, it seems that tomorrow will be the day for epic scenery and even a few good climbs. We camped earlier than usual which has made for a nice relaxing evening and hopefully also an early bedtime. Tonight I’ll be dreaming of miles and miles of endless forest roads, but I have a feeling tomorrow night’s dreams will be filled with much more of nature’s beauty and majesty.