Thursday, September 27, 2012

Sept 26th - Blowout Mtn Sunrise on the Equinox

Woke to a magnificent sunrise. A 360 view from the rocky summit knob on Blowout Mountain. To the north you look straight down the knife edge ridge, to the east - sunrise over the distant mountains and valleys, to the west - finally a spectacular view of Mt Raineer, and to the south a view of my tent camp nestled on the southeast ridge. Today is the solar Equinox and this sunrise view is the start of a fantastic day.

As I hiked this morning I could see that if the sky had cleared yesterday I would have had numerous views of Raineer. Of course as the day progressed the air again filled with the smell of smoke. The views hazed over again; this time from a different fire. Will they ever end?

Saw another elk today and lots of footprints and mating calls. After lunch I hiked over to an old abandon weather station. Would have liked to explore but there were "Property of US Government" warnings everywhere.

Above Twilight Lake, on the way up to Mirror Lake, I startled several Elk. They where hiding in the trees just dozens of feet away. Didn't see them but the crashing noise was like a freight train. Camping at Mirror Lake and it lives up to its name with reflections in the water.

Sept 25th - Mountain Goats

The clouds rolled in over the ridge leaving droplets of water to fall on me during the night. Debated setting up my tent at 2am but braved it with only some dampness. Great sunrise but Raineer was socked in the clouds. While hiking the ridge I got one small window in the clouds with a view of Mt Raineer so I waited half an hour hoping it would clear. No joy, it just got worse.

Saw two mountain goats about 100 feet above me on a rock ledge. Rocks tumbled down at me as the scrambled away. Lots of fresh elk tracks and trumpeting again today.

Made a hot lunch at Urich Cabin at Government Meadow. Glad I didn't spend the night because the log book says the mice crawl all over you at night. Really nice cabin other than the mice.

In the afternoon the sky cleared but now I only had a distant view of Raineer and it was directly into the sun. Made for a poor photo. Lots of nice cold springs today.

Saw a note on the trail about a short bushwhack to a view at the knife edge cliff on the summit of Blowout Mountain. It's socked in with clouds but I am camping on the summit hoping for a view in the morning.

Sept 24th - The sound of Elk in the shadow of Mt Raineer

All through the night and long into the morning and early afternoon the sounds of the elk trumpeting and rutting around echoed through the woods and up from the valleys. Mating season must be in full swing.

Lots of views of Mt Raineer but wish it wasn't so smokey. It was neat to see her and recall details of my summit climb years ago. You could just make out some of the glaciers and features I think I recall from my trek on the mountain. Lots of wildflowers and great near-in views.

In the afternoon the trail climbed over several passes and knife edge trails with fantastic views; including smoke plumes from more fires very close by.
Saw a large bull elk with huge rack crashing through the woods in the late afternoon. Camping at 2340 miles on the exposed knife edge ridge overlooking Bullion Basin.

Sept 23rd - White Pass

Somehow I spent a fortune at this little store but my tummy is full, laundry clean, and pack is full of food for the next section of the adventure. Really nice staff at the store. By the time I left it was 1:30pm and we had a huge gang with Hollywood's group and others totally 12 of us. We left mostly together but I couldn't talk anyone into hiking the side trail around the lake to avoid the road walk. An extra 1/10 mile and it didn't miss any of the PCT. Oh well. Took an easy day and only hiked 10 miles to camp at Snow Lake. Set up camp and the others either camped somewhere else or hiked on into the darkness. The musical sounds of elk can be heard all around me tonight. It's like I am surrounded by them.

Papa Smurf is at Snoqualmie Pass

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Sept 22 - Goat Rocks; ROCKS!!!

Absolutely amazing! Goat Rocks Wilderness is fantastic! Glad I had good weather. First climbing to the top of Cispus pass was full of views and wildflowers. After the pass I met Up with Tokyo Japan Keichi at a fantastic waterfall. I would continue to leap frog with Keichi most of the day. Climbing my way up toward Old Snowy Mtm the views just got better and better.

A group of Marmots on the rocks and the terrain reminded me of the Sierras but with more snow left on the mountain sides. Crossed the largest snowfield yet and the views of Packwood Glacier and the clouds lingering below in all the valleys was beautiful. The misty low clouds would linger below me the whole day.

At the Washington state PCT highest point I just had to take a rock scramble side hike to the top of Old Snowy Mountain. Fantastic 360 degree views from this high point and looking down at the knife edged Goat Rocks trail ahead with a ghostly view of Mt Raineer hovering in the air. Scored a home made spinach and orzo dinner from a weekend hiker.

From Old Snowy the trail got even better, if that's possible, as I went over the ups and downs of the knife edge past Elk pass. The view of Raineer was smokey but at least I finally saw it. Lots more waterfalls, valleys and mist, and wildflowers. As I dropped down I entered the cloud layer and it got cold and moist. The water condensed on the trees and leaves and it was actually raining under the forest. Where the sky was open above me there was no rain and the ground was dry. Only under the trees was there this condensation rain. Then as I climbed up again above Shoe Lake I came out of the mist into the sun again.

The view of Shoe Lake was grand with the mist blowing on and out over the mountains and lake. Then to finish the day the trail was carved unto the steep sides of Hogback Mountain as I made my way down toward White Pass.

I camped tonight at Ginnette Lake; just past mile 2300. The Kracker Barrel store closed at 5pm so no reason to rush down to the pass. Sorry to hear its just a mini store and not a restaurant. I heard all day that Hollywood's gang of seven was rushing down the Goat Rocks to make it before 5pm. A south bound couple said they made it at 4:57pm. I hope they stopped to enjoy at least some of this fantastic section. Looking forward to at least a hot coffee and breakfast sandwich in the morning. I hope I can recharge my camera and get some fuel from the hiker box. Today just might be the most scenic day on the whole PCT! It would be worth returning in a year without fire smoke blocking the farther away mountains from view.

Sept 21 - Mt Adams

Elk hunters passed by camp in the early morning. Climbed 3 moreiles up the Divide trail to the shoulder of My Adams to return to the PCT north of the fire. Lots of views of Adams but between the sun and the one it's just a ghost view of the mountain. Lots of nice alpine meadows and wildflowers. Passed Chipmunk and Toad - how do people lee passing me? Does anyone hike all the trail? Lava Rock Springs was very nice. Climbed to the top of the lava Rockpile for what looked like a perfect view of Adams if not for the smoke.

In the afternoon I had some great, yet smokey, views of the surrounding mountains. A beautiful place if not for the smoke.

Sept 20th - Fire on the Mountain!

During the night I could hear large animals walking around stepping on sticks; not a bear but at least as large as a deer. Elk I hope! Did not see any in Oregon but saw lots of tracks. In the daylight I saw lots of fresh tracks and finally around mid day saw my frost Elk!

The smell of smoke was very strong this morning and the smoke lingered like mist wisping I between the trees. Met a thru hiker who flip-flopped south through Washington. Glad to met him cause I was so tired of wiping spiders and webs off my face. He said I should have no problems with fires ahead; WRONG!!! Met Chipmunk and Toad who took time off with family and just got dropped off back in the trail.

At lunch I found Trip and we hiked together past the sign that said the Stagman Ridge trail was closed due to the Adams Fire but the PCT was open. After hiking 6-1/2 miles together we came to a meadow on the shoulder of Adams and saw, not just smoke, but flames shooting above the treetops not more than a 1/10th of a mile ahead on the ridge to the east and moving west toward the trail. The air was littered with falling ash and burned pine needles and the smoke thick. Dispute being a little worried I told myself others had just hiked through here just hours ago. After crossing the junction with the Stagman Ridge trail and fire warning; only for Stagman and not the PCT, we continued another 1/10th of a mile. It was now clear that the fire coming down from the west had reached the trail. Burning trees and bushes had reached the trail just a few feet from us. Trip and I debated the safety of moving on but as we got closer to the fire on the west side of the trail the fire we saw on the east side came up toward the trail also. The fire ahead was denser with smoke and we had no idea what was on the other side. The fire was burning on both sides and had crossed the trail.

The rush of wind being sucked up from the fire made a roaring sound. The fire was alive and moving like an animal. No choice but to hike back south the 6-1/2 miles to the road to Trout Lake. We left a note at a dirt road crossing near rt 23 for others warning on the fire and then as we got to the trailhead for rt 23 we saw a red warning sign that the trail was closed. Posted after we had hiked through earlier. After waiting a while we finally saw a car - hoping to hitch to Trout Lake. Turns out to be forest rangers and first thing they say is; "are you PaPa Smurf and Trip?". The had just posted the trail closed and drove around to the dirt road and saw our note. With a stroke of good luck they said we were obviously in distress and that they therefore could take us around the mountain to a connecting trail. I got to the Divide Trailhead, after a winding 20 mile dirt road ride, at 9pm. Trip continued with the rangers to another trail head to skip ahead and try to catch up with Cactus and Hollywood. I camped 1 mile up trail and will meet up with the PCT in about 3 miles in the morning. Only missed a small section of trail but the backtracking and side trail added another 10 miles. Glad to have the help of the rangers to speed the detour. That's the closest anyone should be to a Forest fire.

Walking into the Adams Fire

Sept 19 - Smoke up your nose

Hiked with the smell of smoke all day and smokey views. You knew the mountains were all around you but the smoke, Adams fire?, blocked the views. Adams and maybe Rainier or St Helen's should be coming onto view if I could see through the smoke. Lots of spider web clearing today. Looks like the road walk must have skipped a lot cause no one is on the trail near me and the log at a trail magic cache of candy and chips had notes of hikers who somehow jumped a day or two ahead of me. Crossed 2200 miles today and camping at mile 2222. Some neat lava fields and collapsed lava tunnels today.

Sept 18 - Camping on the edge of a cliff

Lots of ups and downs and bridges today. A south bound hiker scared a deer into almost running me over. Scared both of us. Saw a note on a tree that said "you will make it to Canada". Camping at a vista a few miles from the 2200 mile mark with a cliff that drops off a few feet away. Tonight's dinner; Japanese noodles soup and fresh cauliflower with pasta and broccoli with real bacon. And a whiskey night cap. Later in the night a SoBo section hiker came through in the dark. Squeezed him in behind me on our cliff side roost and shared some whiskey.

Sept 17 - Bridge of the Gods

Took a zero yesterday in Cascade Locks. Breakfast at the famous Eastwing Drive-in. For lunch a half-gallon ice cream and a banana. Decided to stay the night because so many hikers showed up. Shrek gave us a tour and described all his plans to rebuild the house into a hikers dream; hot tub, bunk house, deck, tent sites and hammocks. He bought the house in February and is gutting it. Have to come back sometime to see how it turns out. After dinner I joined the group at the pub for a beer and watched them drink flaming boiler maker like drinks called "hiker trash". Then we passed bottles around at the campfire as Kristo and Trip played guitar and sang.

On Monday I tried to get on the trail early but failed. After Pacemaker and I walked into town for breakfast, Sybille and I worked on flight possibilities for flying home over the phone. Hard to believe in less than a month I'll be in Canada. Just as I tried to leave a local came by with local Indian caught wild salmon cakes. We had a nice brunch by the fire. Then Shrek had us take a group picture atop Mt Shrek. Everyone said they were heading out but no one was moving so I left with Pacemaker without them. Exciting crossing the "Bridge of the Gods" into Washington state. You have to walk in the traffic lane because the bridge has no walkway or shoulder. As you walk you look straight down through metal grates at the water far below.

Pacemaker, and apparently everyone else, turned right and take the shorter and easier road walk. I headed left along the Columbia Gorge and then up toward Gillette Lake and Table Mountain. Nice views from the ridges. Found an empty trail magic cache in a remote random stretch of trail. A candy and beer treat for those who didn't wuss out and do the road walk. To bad it was empty. Surprised to still find lots of ripe blackberries on the ridge. A nice stream side campsite all to myself tonight.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Sept 15 - Eagle Creek, Tunnel Falls and the Ogre Shrek

A hiker, Backtrack, came through during the night looking for the spring and trail. In the morning I was joined by Zanna and Panorama. The Eagle Creek alternative was an amazing section of trail. From Tunnel falls with its cave behind the waterfall and trail carved into the rock walls with cables, to all the features along the way like High bridge and the many other bridges, Loowit falls, Punch Bowl Falls, Metlako falls and all the way down to the Columbia River gorge with a view of "Bridge of the Gods" as I finally reached Cascade Locks.

Being a Saturday it was like hiking the wrong way on a narrow oneway road with all the day and weekend hikers who were to scared to pass on the exposed trail carved into the walls of the gorge. Scored an apple in town where the Indians had a farm market. Maybe I will get some wild smoked salmon for the hike out. Staying the night at Ogre Shrek's hiker swamp where I met Sunshine who waited on me at VVR alone with Flagman, Zanna and Pannarama, and some other hikers. Damsel and Lucy and Walking Stick. I ate a whole large pizza and a beer at the PCT Pub, followed by ice cream at another place that was featured in the filming of the new movie Wild; The Eastwind. I hear they have a 1 lb breakfast burrito. It feels odd to finish the state of Oregon. The end of the trail is starting to feel real and a little sad. But, I'm sure there's lots of adventures still ahead on the trail and after. Today was a great day!

Sept 14th - Of Waterfalls and Bears

Forgot to mention yesterday I meet two hikers hiking barefoot. One a young mother and son; she said she read online hiking barefoot was good for you. She didn't look like she was enjoying it. The other was a college kid that seemed to be doing fine but then he said he was only hiking barefoot cause his boots hurt so bad. Forgot to say Knees and Inspector Gadget where at the lodge yesterday too.

Hiked the Ramona Falls Alternate and enjoyed the falls, lots of people, and a quiet walk along the river. Was attacked by the hug monster who called out "Papa Smurf" and ran up to me with a huge hug. She had heard my name from other hikers and wanted to shock me. Lol. Joined her and her friend by their fire and ate cookies and shared more hugs. Leaving Mt Hood I meet another hiker and scored an apple!

Lots of huckleberries and thimbleberrys today. Saw what I think was Mt Adams and lots of smoke from the Adams fire ahead. Also saw a big black bear while in the Bull Run Watershed. When I got to Indian Springs I had a panic moment when the spring marked on half-miles notes was just a dry river bed. Turns out there is a nice piped spring but it is in a totally different spot down the side trail toward Eagle Creek. In camp I heard noises in the woods. I grabbed my camera to hopefully get a shot of a bear or elk but it was just Flagman camping beside me. Looking forward to seeing Tunnel Falls in the morning.

Sept 13th - Timberline Trail

Ended up eating a hiker box smorgasbord last night. After everyone left Damsel and her dog Lucy came along with Kristo and Tokyo Japan Keichi. Nivi and Nadi dropped of beer and everyone agreed the dinner at the lodge was to expensive. We went to the day lodge and used the microwave, toaster, and hiker box to make a group dinner of potatoes, rice, toast with butter and honey, and pudding. I donated more rice, flat bread and an Indian dish along with peach ice tea. A nice group meal and fun time. Then we headed up trail in the dark to camp. The group hiked north and I camped a 100 yards from the lodge in the trees.

Flagman hiked by in the morning and we both had the buffet breakfast - even better then the brunch! Six more hikers joined us during breakfast. After resting from my big meal and charging all my gadgets I got back on trail around 1pm. Lots of day hikers and I made poor time because I chatted with everyone. Lots of views of Mt Hood and the waterfalls and drainage coming off the glaciers. Yogied a sandwich and fruit bar - like I needed more food? One of the ravines looked very neat with multiple waterfall drops and pools. Crossed the Sandy River on a log bridge then camped just before Ramona Falls. Camped with a young man who was taking his mother on her first backpack. We had a nice campfire together.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Sept 12th - Timberline Lodge on Mt Hood

Windy this morning. Hiked the last 7-8 miles to Timberline Lodge to enjoy the brunch buffet. Was joined at lunch by Cactus and Trip, who hitched to the lodge, and then Dazzle, Extra Credit and Hollywood. Fantastic views along the way up and across the lower slopes of Mt Hood but blowing sand on your eyes. Took a movie with camera on a post and ended up with a movie of the camera tumbling down in the wind. The ranger said the lodge was filmed for the movie "the shining" as well as a Jimmy Stuart and Lassie movie. Looks like everyone is now backed out of staying the night but me. I'll tent and catch the breakfast buffet. It's all about the food for PaPa Smurf.

Sept 11th - Mt Hood comes into view

Heard a pack of coyotes attack an animal in the night. Really creepy sounds. A cold night. Felt strong, the trail was gentle, and I was on a mission to have brunch at Timberline Lodge; so I hiked through to the 2100 mile marker. Lots of lakes and day hikers, especially along Timothy Lake. The trail signs and also a huge arch entry to the PCT from a trail head where impressive. Most were wood with raised carved lettering. The sounds of airplanes in the air was comforting as thoughts of 911 brought back memories of the eerie absence of planes after 911. Hope I don't hear anything bad happening on this anniversary. Then just as the day was ending Mt Hood came into view. Marvelous!!! I carried 3-3/4 liters of water from a great seep to dry camp on the ridge. Part of the water in a peanut butter jar - have to have my coffee in the morning.  Cowboy camped on the ridge, just barely off trail. Glad to find something before dark.

Sept 10 - Indian rain dance

Still light drizzle in the morning. Breakfast of scrambled eggs with mushrooms and broccoli; thanks to Sybille's care package. Trail magic of fresh snow peas, carrots and gorp. Trip left his headlamp so I should try and catch up to him today. Boots and socks are soaked when I got to Olallie Lake store. Nice woodstove where the whole gang was warming up. (Trip, Cactus and Extra Credit, Kristo, Damsel and Lucy, Dazzle). No hot food so I bought a $6 bag of chips. Also yogied a ripe peach!

Rain gave way to sun late afternoon but cold all day. Hiked with fleece and gloves the whole day. Most of the day was on the Warm Springs Indian Reservation but no views because of the rain. Were the Indians doing a rain dance? Thought I had camp all to myself but Cactus, Extra Credit, and Trip hiked on after dark. Bet Trip was glad to have his headlamp. Mile 2171.4

Sept 9th - Glissading on Mt Jefferson

What a fantastic day! This morning three hunters walked by and not ten minutes later a herd of deer meandered through the meadow by our camp. Just lucky or are they smart deer?

Hiked most of the day with Damsel and her dog Lucy, Kristo, Trip, Cactus and Extra Credit. The views of the low hanging clouds in the valley with the mountains poking above was amazing. Then behold the mighty Jefferson with wildflowers in the foreground. Many different views of Jefferson as I hiked along the ridge up to her, over the shoulder, and around and behind her. Great views of lakes and the surrounding mountains too.

Crossed the Russell Creek on a snow bridge where I caught up with Dazzle. Had the "Jefferson Park" area all to myself as I pushed on to take in the terrific views with lots of snow fields before the clouds came in. Got very cold and windy as I climbed to today's high point. To cold and windy to comfortably camp so I pushed on toward the Indian Reservation where I heard there was a shelter.

As I entered the Mt Hood National Forrest I had lots of fun practicing standing boot glissading on the many snow fields. Slept on a picnic table inside a stone shelter at Breitenbush Lake campground of the Tribes of Warm Springs. Trip came in after dark and slept on the ground behind me and it did end up raining during the night. Trip said the group had no views because the clouds beat them up to the high point. A great dinner tonight of pasta with ham and Kung Pao sauce.

September 8th - Three Fingered Jack

Trail magic of ice cold soda and cheese crackers at Santiam Pass where I met a friend of Lloyd's who was refilling the water cache. Today is opening day of deer hunting and I saw many hunters; three groups hiked by with deer heads and meat. Many great views of the mountain Three Fingered Jack as we hiked toward, then around and then past her. Nice view with wildflowers in the foreground. The northern sloops had patches of snow including some on the trail. Then huckleberries a plenty alone the trail. Starting to get views of Mt. Jefferson. Camped at Rockpile Lake with Damsel and her dog Lucy, Kristo, the New Zealander Trip, and Cactus and Extra Credit. Mile 2022.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Sept 7 - Crossing 2000 Miles! and Big Lake Youth Camp

Wednesday and Thursday were the days of many lakes. There was a lake or pond around every hill. Great lunch and nap at Charleston Lake. Passed through signs for the Bobby Fire detour which I ignored because I heard it was open. Then through a large old burn area with miles of standing dead tree trunks. The wind made a chorus of whistling sounds as it passed through the dead trees. Camped at Stormy Lake Wednesday. Thursday I had lunch at on old wood and stone lean-to on Cliff Lake.

At Elk Lake resort I picked up my resupply and enjoyed a fantastically good, and equally expensive, burger, salad, milk shake and ice cream. Then our friendly trail angel, Lloyd, drove me around the section I had already hiked with Sybille. Camped in the dark last night at Lava Lake Campsite. Today I hiked the road out past Dee Wright Observatory, a neat stone tower in the middle of the lava fields, to McKenzie Pass to pick up the PCT where I left off. Lloyd had a water cache here!

Lots of hiking through lava fields and views back at the snow covered North Sister and Middle Sister and Little Brother. Hiking north I had great views of Mt Washington and Mt Jefferson. Hiked around the base of Mt Washington where I met Dazzel at the 2000 mile marker. Then down to Big Lake Youth Camp to celebrate with a free shower, laundry, wifi, and a great hiker box. Spending the night with Kristo and Damsel and her dog Lucy. Great place to spend night using hiker box food and fuel.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Sept 4th, Maiden Peak Ski Shelter

Camping at this wonderful octagon ski shelter with solar electric lights. (thanks to Sybille's research since it's not in any of the maps or trail notes) Feeling much better and getting a little stronger each day. It's so great to finally have an appetite back.  Met Flagman and Little Steps in the morning at Shelter Cove where I got my resupply, breakfast of coffee, two burritos, a full bag of corn chips and ice cream. Then on to lunch of a beer-sausage, more ice-cream, some fresh salmon that Flagman scored and a scone and soda I yogied.  Great views of Odell Lake from Eagle Rock and more nice lakes today.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Sept 3rd - Labor Day Backtracks and Shelter Cove

This was a day of miss-steps.  Hiked the Oregon Skyline alternative today so I could stop at Shelter Cove.  First up, Little Steps said the trail starts west of the road.  We hiked a half mile in the wrong direction before realizing it.  Next, at a trail junction, I went straight instead of turning left because the sign said "horse trail".  Wrong, we ended up on a different trail leading to the road.   Probably should have just hiked the road but I went back and turned at the horse trail sign getting us back on track.  Hiking into Crescent Lake campground where we scored trail magic.  I had two large P&B sandwiches and another for the road, along with an orange, banana, and some chocolate and mac-n-cheese.  Then on the way back to the trail I missed the turn off the road again and we hiked another mile around Crescent Lake before I realized my mistake.  That's three backtracks today.  LOL

I left Little Steps to make Shelter Cove before 7pm but because of special Labor Day hours they were already closed.  Met Flagman and cooked a dinner from the hiker box on the campfire because I couldn't get to my resupply box and food.  Slept on the deck by the lake and looking forward to some hot breakfast in the morning.