Trip Report: PCT Oregon ...back to home

   

PCT Oregon
Photos: http://picasaweb.google.com/jman1963/OregonPCT

429 miles in 23 days on the Oregon Pacific Crest Trail essentially border to border (We got on the trail a few miles north of the California border where it crosses I-5).

After months of planning, packing and scheming, Myrna and I were finally off to hit the trail.  We took the redeye greyhound from Seattle to Medford.  Labor Day weekend made for a full bus load the whole way with lots of interesting people, each with very unique stories.  Riding the bus is an interesting experience all in its own and I could write a trip report on just that.  Myrna managed to get some sleep on the way down but I think I was awake almost the whole way.

When we got to Medford I found that my trekking poles did not make the last luggage transfer, so I was lightening my load already and hadnít even set foot on the trail.  From Medford we caught a shuttle that dropped us off at the I-5 trailhead a few miles South of Ashland near Siskiyou.   The weather was perfect and we were only on the trail about half an hour when the first thru hiker passed us; his trail name was ďGoatĒ and by the looks of his tan we believed him when he told us it had only rained once on him since getting on the trail in Mexico.  He was soon gone, but we continued to see his name in the trail log books at various places along the way.

The first night we camped below a reservoir just south of Hwy 66.  The terrain in this area is composed of low rolling tree covered hills and not very much under brush, pretty dry.  In two days we were at mile 53, Fish
Lake Resort, to pick up our first food drop, get a shower and do some laundry.  Although it was a nice and clean resort I think I picked up some cooties from the shower or maybe it was an allergic reaction to the laundry
soap.  For the next week I was fighting a rash on my feet and went through almost a whole tube of hydrocortisone.  The weather had been perfect and when we set off from Fish Lake my barometer watch indicated a nice day aheadÖ it was wrong.  By nine the rain was steadily coming down.  I had my umbrella and it was really working out.  We hike pretty late that evening looking for a good spot. I made a fire in the stainless steel wood burning stove I had made and had a hot dinner in the dark.  The stove is simply a flat four and half ounce piece of stainless sheet metal that rolls into a 5Ē diameter tube that stands on end.  There are air holes near the bottom and the top.  It would boil a quart of water in 5 to 15 minutes depending on weather and fuel conditions.

At mile 108 we were picking up our next resupply at Crater Lake and then on to Shelter Cove Resort for the next food pick up at mile 185.   About an hour and a half before we got to Shelter Cove I could smell dirty smoke, I followed it to a near by lake where a campfire had rekindled and spread out to a radius of about five feet burning the super dry underground roots.  We made about 50 trips to the lake with a quart pan for water, dug the burning roots out and pitched them in the lake.  When I got to the resort I called the forest service and they sent a crew to check it out.

The days were getting shorter and the nights were getting colder especially when we camped high near the divide.  One night when it was beginning to rain I was in a hurry and picked a spot for the tarp tent that allowed a small trickle of water to run in and soak about 30% of my down sleeping bag.  From then on keeping warm at night would be a challenge.  I would sleep in all my cloths and rain gear as well as take a quart bottle of boiling water wrapped in a fleece vest to bed.  At around 2 in the morning when I would wake up cold, the wrap would come off the hot water bottle and get me through until 5.  Most days we were up and on the trail by sunrise.

The last food pickup at mile 231 was Elk Lake where I had the best toasted ham and cheese sandwich of my life.  This would be the heaviest food load and would have to last us the last 10 days of the trip.  We managed to get a day ahead of schedule by not staying at Elk Lake and continuing on early that afternoon.  It rained and froze a few more times during the last leg of the trip.  In the Northern sections we crossed many burned areas. During one crossing we were high on the West side of the ridge in the clouds and howling wind.  What made it so unique was that the cloud/fog was blowing though at a very steady rate.  If I were to have taken a video it would have looked very calm like the fog was just hanging in there.  Most of the smaller branches were burned off the trees so they did not move in the howling wind.  When the trail would cross over to the Eastern side of the mountain crest everything would change.  No wind and we could see out to the brilliant sunshine of the East.

My camera did not like the cold and I didnít take nearly as many pictures as I usually do.  I could hear the worn out plastic gears grinding away each time I turned it on and occasionally it would refuse to come on until I
warmed the battery under my arm.  I knew before the trip its days may be numbered and estimated I have taken between five and ten thousand pictures with it in the last three years.  I did get a few pictures of Mount Hood near Timberline Lodge when the weather was clear; it was a spectacular sight that pictures donít do justice to.

We ended up losing the day we had gained earlier during the last leg of the trip due to the lack of daylight and not getting in the miles we needed to each day.  As it turned out we got into Cascade Locks about a half hour
ahead of our planned time of 6:00 on the 23rd.  We were in need of showers and headed to the campground at the locks.  The hosts were gone and the showers were locked so we got a motel room instead.

From there we got a ride into Portland the next day with the motel owner and his family where he was going to pick up his son, from there we caught the train (not nearly as interesting as the bus, but that was ok at this point) to Seattle and I was sleeping in my own bed by just after 10:00 that night.

Myrna did GREAT with hardly a complaint even though here feet were heavily blistered.  I could only pull away from her on the steepest climbs.  She did most of the planning, organizing and map procurement as well as giving me lots of extra food she sent to the food drops.  And thatís a good thing because she is much more creative than I in the good food department.

This trip was great and Iím glad we did it, but we both agreed it was much harder than the last PCT section we did from Stevens Pass to Canada a few years ago.  The days were shorter, the miles each day were more, it was colder and it rained more.  We were both happy to be home.  I didnít get a single blister and I attribute that to lots of preventative care and changing out my socks to dry every hour when it was hot.  Next time I do a
long hike Iíll check into some trail running shoes and leave the leather boots at home.  The boots I took were fairly light weight (as boots go) but didnít keep out the water after the second day of wet and took forever to
dry.  Also I have an idea for an improved wood stove that should burn hotter and faster.  The whole wood stove concept has been inspired mostly by my friend Skips interest in wood fire gasification and his enthusiasm.  12 hours a day on the trail makes for a lot of thinking time, I should have written down more of my ideas.  Next time Iíll bring more snickers bars and less Gatorade, I lost 8 lbs.  The tarp tent was a success, there were no
bugs except for carpenter ants, but they seem to tread lightly when they walk across my face in the night.  No bear sightings, but lots of sign.  No elk sightings but lots of sign and lots of bugling in the night near the
tent.  We saw all kinds of strange mushrooms, more than Iíve ever seen.  And of course there were the strange noises outside the tent in the night.  I didnít tell Myrna until we were back about how Google Earth has all of the
Bigfoot sightings along the trail documented.