August 2, 2017
Day 63, Triangle Lake HC to Joe Graham HC, miles; 2049-2073
Miles ridden; 25.6, trail time; 7:18, average speed; 3.4, minimum elevation; 3429, maximum elevation; 5089, total ascent; 2722, total descent; 3993
When I left Triangle Lake this morning I knew from previous experience that the day would be spent in the trees, I was not disappointed. Except for road crossings, power line crossings and one small burned area Mercedes and I were in the trees, cool shady trees the whole hot day. On the nice dirt trail we were able to make good time.
There is a woman in camp today offering the most elaborate trail magic I’ve seen to date. Accompanied by her horse and mastiff, possibly the largest dog I’ve seen, she dispenses assorted liquids and full meals from a dozen coolers all set up on tables within a large bug net equipped canapy. An additional canapy shades additional seating. She uses the full two weeks allowed for camping in Joe Graham each year to bring some joy to hikers and equestrians alike.
August 3, 2017
Day 64, Timothy Lake to Barlow Pass, miles; 2073-2092
Miles ridden; 18.1, trail time; 4:39, average speed; 3.8, minimum elevation; 3262, maximum elevation; 4558, total ascent; 2444, total descent; 1589
BG drew the short day which was a winner all around for her, good trail, not too many climbs and no steep down hills. It was however another day in dense forest, pleasant given the heat but not much for the generation of Kodak moments. Smoke from forest fires is restricting visibility, Mt Hood, ten miles distant is barely visible.
Fires, fires everywhere, fires behind us and fires ahead. The Indian Creek fire between us and Cascade Locks seems to be growing. So far the PCT is still open, but we will keep a close eye on the incident reports.
August 3, 2017,
Day 65, Barlow Pass to Lost Lake, Miles; 2092-2119
Miles ridden; 31.3, trail time; 10:10, average speed; 3.1, minimum elevation; 2858, maximum elevation; 6058, total ascent; 5785, total descent; 6675
Mercedes and I left camp and headed up the trail facing a two thousand foot climb up the sandy slopes of Mt. Hood to Timberline Lodge. One of the problems with riding a trail that you have previously ridden, long ago, is you have preconceived notions, especially the bad spots. Fortunately, those dreaded bad spots rarely live up to the billing, and occasionally are quite the opposite. This morning was the latter as the dreaded sandy ridge was miles shorter than I remembered and not nearly as steep, we made Timberline in an hour and a half.
On the way to the lodge I was taking my usual complement of pictures. About half a dozen shots in I noticed some text on the screen, digging out my glasses I could read “not saved, out of memory”. I had forgotten to replace the memory card in the camera after downloading it onto the computer. I erased the few higher quality pictures I had already taken so they could be replace with smaller pictures.
I was told somewhere along the line that the Ramona Falls trail had been repaired and was open for stock use again. I have fond memories of that trail from 30 years ago or more so it was with some anticipation that I looked for the intersection with the PCT. As there wasn’t a “no stock” sign I eagerly turned up the trail. The first thing I noticed was how used the trail looked, and not in a good way. The trail, at least 10 feet wide, extended several feet past the edges of water bars on each side. Exposed roots and loose rocks littered the path; this is a trail that sees serious traffic. As I neared the falls I encountered a fence designed to let people pass but prevent stock from entering, the end of the trail for Mercedes. A hitching rail was provided so I left her there and continued on foot to the falls.
What used to be a fern covered bench around the bottom of the falls is now hard packed dirt semicircle extending a couple hundred feet out from the falls, not a trace of vegetation survived. Despite signs pleading “Please stay on trail” a couple dozen people lounged about the area. In their defense, defining what was trail and what wasn’t would take a better detective than I. Clearly this bit of nature is being loved to death. The falls though were every bit as picturesque as I remembered, on this hot day the air was filled with cool mist bouncing off the rocks from the fall of the water. Feeling a little bit guilty, for my part in corrupting the wilderness experience, I snapped a couple quick pictures, collected Mercedes and left.
The rest of the morning we wandered half way around Mt. Hood, crossing the Zig Zag and Sandy Rivers early enough in the day they were, while still somewhat challenging, not nearly as hazardous as they would become later in the day. Even so crossing rushing, boulder strewn streams to get to banks of loose sand with near vertical climbs in the 5 to 20 foot range to get to a narrow to non-existent trail tread that you pray will hold your horses weight; is not for the faint of heart. Throughout the day there was a lot of up and down, and, as is to be expected on the side of a volcano, lots of rocks to slow us down. Interspersed with the open scenic spots were long stretches of good forest trail. Smoke from the local and Canadian fires limited visibility again today.
At one point on the trail today I came upon several large trees that had fallen across and along the trail. Too big and too many to cut I was trying to scout and clear out a go around when who should appear? None other than Randy and Bigfoot. They went low and I went high and we got around the first of the windfalls about the same time. The next set was passable to them by taking off their packs and passing them over and under logs to each other and they were able to head off down the trail while I was still searching for a route. It wasn’t long before I heard them shouting to me from above, there was a switchback and if I went straight up the hill I could avoid the rest of the obstacles. I have got to remember to look at the GPS to see where the trail goes.
We hadn’t planned to stay at Lost Lake as our friends Tammy & Eric lived a short distance away. We were spending the night at their place where they had made us dinner and provided the kind of long hot showers you only dream about in an RV. It was a good thing as when I rode through the horse camp it was completely full of non-horse campers, many of whom stood open mouthed as I rode by. I did note the corrals apparently mad good flat tent sites while the rails served as towel and wet clothes racks. Leaving the horse camp loop I rode through the much larger people part of the campground to where Janis was waiting. The GPS showed roads though camp spots and the roads went where the map showed none. After a few fruitless attempts at staying on the designated roads I gave up and went cross country squeezing past picnic tables and campers until Mercedes and I burst out of the crowds and could gain a sighting of the truck and trailer. Shewww, that was hard!
August 4, 2017
Day 66, Lost Lake to Cascade Locks, miles; 2119 to 2147
Miles ridden; 30.1, trail time; 9:00, average speed; 3.3, minimum elevation; 313, maximum elevation; 4498, total ascent; 3946, total descent; 6849
After arriving at Lost Lake last night Janis and I drove to Odell to have dinner and spend the evening with Tammy & Eric Cederstam. This morning Tammy and Janis dropped Eric and I off at Lost Lake where we rode to the Bridge of the Gods, the last ride in Oregon. Wouldn’t you know it; I forgot to put the memory card in the camera again. Eric said he would send me his pictures which I will add when I get them. I’m not so sure using Eric’s pictures are such a good idea. I feature prominently in many of them – I don’t want to disillusion the reader.
I was asked by a hiker a while back if I got bored on the trail, she had a hard time accepting that I don’t listen to music or podcasts while riding. I don’t get bored, mostly I try to pay attention to what is going on around me, I would feel distracted listening to a podcast and if the music wasn’t in time to the horses gait it would bug me no end. I do at times get a song stuck in my head, oddly enough the other day it was “Silver Bells”, the Christmas carol that matched BG’s uphill march perfectly. Other times I compose what I am going to write hear, but I’ve never managed to remember what it was I was going to say when it came time to put pencil to paper. What I’m trying to get to here is it was nice to have Eric’s company on the trail.
We were mostly in the trees today with a few break out in the open spots with some great views. After we climbed up to the top of the ridge above Lost Lake we remained around 4,000 feet most of the day. When we got almost to the Columbia River we started losing elevation, dropping 4000 feet, most of it in the 3 mile stretch before Herman Creek. There was a pretty good wind overnight which blew most of the smoke away.
At one point while we were on an open rock hillside we had the chance to watch a fire fighting helicopter dropping water on the Eagle Creek fire. We also saw law enforcement officials at trailheads and junctions making sure people didn’t try to use the trails that are closed due to fire restrictions. Now I’m double glad I didn’t try to run the Pamelia Creek blockade. Our final views were of the Columbia River Gorge, a welcome sight indeed.
This ends phase II of our PCT adventure. Initially I had planned to go back to the Sierras at this point, then come back and finish with Washington. I really wanted to finish at the Canadian Border, however by riding Washington next and finishing in California it takes a lot of the time pressure off. The North Cascades can be real iffy in September and almost certainly in October you will run into snow, while we have been told by those knowledgeable; that September and October is the best time to visit the Sierras. To that end we will take a rest week now before finishing Washington and another before going back south.
Until next week…