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PCT - White Pass WA to Columbia Gorge OR

Backpackers:  Carl Fisher, Ed Tucker, John Gundry, Mark Schedler, and Brian Lewis

July 29 2006 (no miles):Camped at Leech Lake - don't know about leeches but there sure were mosquitoes.

July 30 2006 (12.5 miles):Got an early start backpacking as we were all excited and ready to hit the trail.  The first 4-5 miles were all uphill backpacking, and that wasn't the worst part.  It started to hail "small" and then snow - large wet flakes.  We were damp for the entire day and of course there were no views.  We camped at Lutz Lake and went to bed early due to the cool, damp weather.

July 31 2006 (12.2 miles):  The day started with an immediate uphill climb and John nursing a sore Achilles tendon which he wrapped with an Ace bandage.  After going uphill for about 3 hours it became serious uphill in the Goat Rocks. We were taking frequent breaks and doing deep breathing.  The views of the surrounding valleys and mountains are stunning.  Unfortunately, clouds kept us from getting good views of Rainier and St Helens off in the distance.  We had several (many) snow field crossings but none were as exciting as crossing the Packwood Glacier.  We had to make 3 separate crossings and each had its own pucker factor.  Imagine walking on hard packed snow/ice that had been slightly melted by the sun.  Now imagine it being at a 45 degree angle and the bottom being 1000-2000 yards down!  Finally, imagine having to kick foot holds all while trying to not slip using two hiking poles for stability.  It was not a good thing to think about falling as it would be a fun ride to an abrupt stop at the bottom.  We stopped for lunch at 1 pm and only had 4 miles under our belt.  The next 8 miles were pretty hard ones made enjoyable by the magnificent displays of wild flowers where there were fields of violet lupine dotted with flame red Indian Paint Brush and the occasional yellow daisy.  We camped at Sheep Lake on ground that had not previously been used.  Due to the popularity of Sheep Lake and our late hour of arrival (6 pm) there were no sites left.  John decided that he needed to give his Achilles a rest so he and Mark made plans to hike out to a nearby lake to bum a ride to the car.

August 1, 2006 (15.1 miles):  Another day of excellent wildflowers as well as Mt Adams.  The weather was warm and sunny so we cleaned up in the creek and did laundry.  We stayed at a creek near Midway Meadows.

August 2, 2006 (18.0 miles):  Eighteen miles is the most miles Carl and Brian have ever hiked in a single day with pack.  Awesome views of Adams, St Helens and Rainier with wildflowers in glorious display.  These are the BEST wildflowers I have seen anywhere.  The pictures I took do not do them justice.  We had lunch at Killiam Springs.  There are nice campsites and a 30 foot waterfall.  The guidebook did not rate this site highly enough - well worth visiting and spending the night.  Today was the best hiking weather so far - highs in the low 70's - so we were able to hike in shorts.  We camped in Horseshoe Meadows in the exact same site that Ed and Carl camped in 2000 during their Mt Adams trip.

August 3, 2006 (14.5 miles):  Since it was only 6 miles to the car resupply we slept in till 7:30 and did not hit the trail till 9:00 AM.  Two of the past three days we have run in to couples in their 60's (maybe 70's) backpacking!  We arrived at 11:15 AM at road 23, where we were to meet John and Mark to await their arrival.  At the trailhead we met a psychiatrist and anesthesiologist couple originally from Appleton and Mequon WI.  They both graduated from UW Madison and were now living in Portland.  Ed and Carl made a strategic decision to leave Brian behind to meet the car and they would hike to Road 88 and wait.  On the way they met a 67 year old backpacker named "Billy Goat" sporting a long white beard.  According to another couple we met, Billy Goat is a PCT legend.  We chatted with him for a short while and learned that he retired at age 50 and started hiking the PCT each year.  By his calculation he has hiked more than 24,000 miles!  When asked about his favorite section he replied "They are all good miles and easy too!"  He did admit that he liked the Marble Mountain Wilderness Area in California.  Ed and Carl made it to Road 88 at 4 pm and John, Mark, and Brian arrived at 4:30.  John and Mark had a successful summit of Mt Adams and had no problems getting a ride to the car.  They brought a six pack of cold beer of local draft.  They were so good that Carl and Ed had two.  After a lot of good natured ribbing and Carl begging additional food from both Mark and John we (Brian, Carl, and Ed) hit the trail.  About one mile later we stopped and camped Steamboat Lake Camp where we met "John" a 29 year old chef from Boise ID who had been on the trail for 5 days.  He was headed north so we traded trail "intelligence" about campsites.  Oh... the hiking today was a viewless day spent in the woods.

August 4, 2006 (16.5 miles):  We hit the trail at 7:15 am and made good time along a fairly flat section with no views.  We decided to make a side hike from the PCT to go up 500 feet to the almost top of Sawtooth Mountain.  Weather was sunny and clear with haze in the distance.  The remainder of the day was viewless and generally downhill and easy.  We camped at Blue Lake which was a haven for mosquitoes.  Despite the mosquitoes Ed and Carl did laundry and cleaned their bodies.  Carl went to bed early to force himself to stay off his sore feet.  All day long we hadn't seen any hikers until near Blue Lake.

August 5, 2006 (15.4 miles):  Initial hiking today was mainly downhill.  We met (actually they overtook us) two ladies doing trail running.  They started about 20 miles north of our location earlier today and were planning to finish at the Bridge of the Gods yet TODAY for a total mileage of about 65 miles!  For lunch we camp upon an unmarked campsite with a table.  We all took a refreshing nap before starting to climb Huckleberry Mountain.  We were disappointed with the lack of huckleberries.  Near the top we met a couple of hikers and the man was wearing a side arm for protection (we asked).  We camped at Cedar Creek which is short distance from the top of Huckleberry Mountain and 350 feet down a steep, steep trail.  It was a nice campsite where Ed spilled his chili supper.

August 6, 2006 (13.2 miles):  We hit the trail at 7:15 and re-visited the 350 feet down from yesterday and got our heart rate up first thing.  After that it was mainly downhill with no views. All miles are "good ones and easy".  Around 11:00 am we hit Wind River road where a sign said "Stabler Store 1 mile".  We had also been advised three days earlier by a couple on the trail that the best strawberry shortcake could be had at a small roadside stand just before the store.  We dropped our packs (hidden, of course) and headed for the store with visions of shortcake dancing in our heads.  About half the way there a bit of trail magic happened when a trail angel stopped to give us a ride.  The car driver's trail name was PED (short for pedestrian).  He hiked the PCT last year and we had talked to him on the trail so he took mercy upon us. Then tragedy struck, the shortcake stand is closed on Sunday and Monday and today is Sunday.  All was not lost however.  At Stabler's store we embarked on a junk food binge.  Carl had 2 bottles of Gatorade, 1 Big Grab of Cheetos, ½ tube of Fig Newton bars, some Pringles, and an ice cream bar while PED regaled us with stories of this trip.  PED was very gracious and gave us a ride back to the trail.  With bellies full of junk food we completed the remaining 3 miles to Trout Creek, which had a gentle uphill.

August 7, 2006 (9.5 miles):  The day started with an immediate 1800 foot assent that was totally viewless except for one side hike we tookEd and Brian before crossing Bridge of the God which got us views of Adams, Hood and a little of St Helens.  Then we came down 1500 viewless feet to Rock Creek.  We arrived at camp at 2:00 pm so we had plenty of time to rest and clean up.  We met no PCT hikers today and only 5 or 6 day hikers.  Lots of huckleberries but we are about a week too soon.

August 8, 2006 (21 miles): Our plan for the day was to camp at a lake about 4 miles from the Columbia Gorge. The campsite was not very good and we arrived at 3:00 PM. We decided to go ahead and hike out.  During the last two miles we were treated to in-season blackberries along the trail.

We had a meal at the Char Burger Restaurant after we crossed the Bridge of the Gods to Oregon and called a Green Cab taxi company to take us to Portland.