June 19 (~14:30 – ~19:50)
Cascade Locks (11.6 mi / Total: 2158.9 mi)
Total PCT miles: 1058.9
Weather: Overcast and chilly. Some sun. It just about doesn’t rain.
I spend most of the morning doing a poor resupply and drinking lattes and eating breakfast at Bridgeside. The food isn’t the best, but the people are nice and I find a socket to charge my battery bank. I even manage to do some much needed writing. When I leave, the owner takes a pictures of me – I’m the first hiker she’s seen this season, and then I’m off. It’s already after 2, so I decide a half day will be enough.
When I walk up to the Bridge Of The Gods I can already see how busy it is. The Bridge Of The Gods is a huge landmark, and this is where the trail moves into the final state of Washington. Even though I haven’t hiked half the trail I was supposed to, it still feels important to me. I’ve daydreamed of the cool pictures I could be taking on this bridge, but I already know that was never going to happen – I’m on my own, and I share the narrow bridge with all the cars passing me. There are no opportunities to take any decent pictures. I’m disappointed but there’s nothing I can do, so after I’ve passed the bridge, I follow the trail into the forest, where it stays.
It’s an easy path, and the Washington forest thickens quickly. Once the day hikers disappear it feels safer, although the trail cuts through endless dirt roads as it moves in elevation. I realise the first ten miles are a steep up, so I tell myself seven miles is okay, five miles is okay. I’m waiting for the snow to melt anyways, I have time.
I begin to like the trail here. It’s a mixture of dense forest and moments of rocks, with views over the mountains around. The trees are lined with moss, and it begins to have this ethereal feel to it.
When I’m halfway up the mountain I get water for the night. I meet two other section hikers, they’re also looking to camp in a few miles. There was a South African here as well, they said – and he was also going to set up soon. As I head off before them I joke we’ll be fighting for the same spots, and I keep on going up the mountain, which seems to only be getting steeper. When I hit the campsite the South African is there, just about to set up. He’s hiking the desert and the Washington sections of the PCT and we chat for a little while. I decide to move on. The others could probably just about squeeze there tents in here, and it’ll be easier for me to find a spot for just one tent.
So I keep on going. There’s a power line with a camp spot but it looks horribly rocky and I wouldn’t want to be right underneath those whirring power lines, so I keep on going, the trail going higher and the path more overgrown and rockier. I realise the next campsite is right before the ridge, and that would mean I would’ve done the entire 10 mile climb today after all. I guess it’s inevitable – this is where I’m going. When I get there I couldn’t be happier. The site is next to the trail, perfectly covered by fir trees. It’s like a hole in a wall, it’s a dream.