June 18 (~05:35 – ~08:30)
After Teakettle Spring – Cascade Locks (7.6 mi / Total: 2147.3 mi)
Total PCT miles: 1047.3
Weather: Foggy and chilly.
My alarm goes off at 4:30, and I wake confused, trying to find wherever that noise is coming from, opening stuff sacks and reaching underneath my pad, I can’t find the source. When I look to the side I see all my stuff far away – did my pad and I slide off so far? And then I realise they’re not my things, its Crunchmaster, and then I properly wake up and grab my phone from where I put it right next to me, and turn off the alarm. Four hours is not enough sleep.
I lie there, Crunchmaster isn’t moving yet and so neither do I – which is of course a mistake, because he has much less things and when he does wake up at 5, it doesn’t take long for him to run off. I get my things together some thirty minutes later, and hurry down the hill.
It’s grey and overcast this morning, and the forest, which should feel enchanted, feels dull and cold. I follow the switchbacks down, and quickly get the first views through the barren trees onto the river. Columbia River. Washington. The next state. It feels significant even though I have hardly walked any of Oregon, and even though I have only walked about half of California. The views aren’t great, the river doesn’t sparkle as it should, the weather won’t allow it to.
I have less than 8 miles to go so I try to hurry down, but it takes longer than I’d expected. I have to stop to take off layers, and then the trail turns rocky, some stones annoyingly roll underneath my feet, prodding me, and I have to get my trekking poles out just to keep my balance, and to keep somewhat of a pace while I balance on top. It’s disappointing, I imagined flying down the mountain, through the thick forest and the corners of rock but instead I have to trudge through, carefully.
I use the time to decide what I should do, and by the time I’m less than half a mile from the Bridge Of The Gods, the entryway to Washington and Cascade Locks, Crunchmaster messages to ask where I am. Despite hurrying down the hill I tell him, I don’t think I’m going to join you. And the decision has been made. I know I don’t want to walk 60 miles in the snow, and it makes no sense to follow these guys away from the trail, when I should take the opportunity to stay here, where I could walk at least a few more days north towards Trout Lake, until the snow starts.
So while they head off, I walk straight into the Bridgeside restaurant, and order breakfast. The place has got great comments on Guthook, but it’s disappointing, especially after daydreaming about the Timberline waffles for the past few days. As it’s still early I consider getting a hotel room for the long day but finally the sun comes out, and I decide it isn’t worth the money. I set up for $5 at the local campground instead, overlooking the river while being battered by a fierce wind.
Cascade Locks isn’t as great as I thought it’d be. I was recommended to go to the Ale House as they supposedly have great food, but it’s closed today, and the supermarket is expensive and stocked poorly for hiker needs. All the foods I’d been dreaming about, I’ll have to wait for. I end up at Bridgeside again for dinner, and call it a night. Tomorrow I’m entering the last state.