Day 128: Stevenson to Seattle

Day 128, September 8, Stevenson to Seattle.

I am sad. My hike is over. The pct in Washington is closed in too many sections. There is the Eagle Creek fire, which prevented me from crossing Bridge of the Gods over the Columbia River. The section between White Pass and Snoqualmie Pass is closed. There’s a fire that is making it’s way south from Canada into the US. This means that the most northern part will probably also be closed in a few days. This will result in hikers not being able to cross the border between America and Canada.

All this, and the fact that I had a return flight ticket in about five days, made me decide to not deal with all the logistics to hitch, bus and / or train ride around all the closures. I have a flexible flight ticket so I could easily rebook my it but the idea of walking for a day or two before needing a day or two to get to the next spot did not sound attractive at all. And there would have been no views anyway. Skies are hazy and filled with smoke.

I know I took the most obvious choice but still I feel sad because I wasn’t ready to leave the mountains and forests yet. 

But I guess I will have to come back to fully enjoy the beautiful state that Washington is. 

After two buses and a three hour train ride I was in Seattle. I went over to the Green Tortoise Hostel and booked myself a bunk for two nights. 

In the evening I walked around the city for awhile. What a change of scenery. Big buildings, loud cars, tons of people and an insane amount of homeless people.

Welcome back to society.

Day 127: Campsite to Timberline Lodge to Stevenson

Day 127, September 7, Campsite to Timberline Lodge to Stevenson, 2.6 miles (4.3 km)

My day turned out to be completely different from what I thought it would be when I broke up camp this morning. I planned on hiking to Timberline Lodge, indulge myself with their amazing breakfast buffet and leave the lodge to hike another 16 miles to a campsite. In these miles I would have been able to walk to the Ramona Falls which, I heard, should be a very beautufil waterfall. 

But the only thing that happened was the walk to Timberline Lodge, just over two and a half mile, to enjoy their breakfast buffet, which was indeed over the top amazing! 

I walked around the lodge afterwards. It is an amazing building! The exterior was used in Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining opening shot. Anyone remembers?

During my little self guided tour I saw a paper saying: PCT closed. I read it and it said that the trail is closed all the way to Cascade Locks. Cascade Locks is a town in the Columbia Gorge, which is the border between Oregon and Washington. People have been evacuated, roads are closed, nature in the gorge is destroyed,.. It’s a mess over there. And to think that the fire was started by some kids playing with fireworks. Sad!

The closure paper mentioned some possibilities of getting around it by using public transportation. First up, the Mt Hood Express bus to Sandy where I could take another bus to Gresham. From there I had to take three more small bus rides to Stevenson from where I hopefully can continue the trail. I’ve spoken to different American pct’ers and most of them decided to go back home and do Washington and the remaining part of Oregon in another year. 

Anyway, most of the buses connected fairly good, waiting for a maximum of half an hour to jump on the next one. Except for the last one. I got to Fisher’s Landing, close to Vancouver (Washington, not the Canadian one), and there I had to kill almost five hours. I checked Google maps and spotted a Sports Bar & Grill. I went over, had a little snack and a couple of soda’s. Uhm, I mean beers.

By 7.30 in the evening I was in Stevenson, a town on the north side of the Columbia River. 
I went over to the Red Cross evacuation ‘campground’, where locals from Cascade Locks were brought to.

I spent the evening talking to some of them and tried to figure out how and if I can still continue hiking. Tomorrow will be decision time.

Day 126: Mount Hood National Forest to Barlow Pass to Campsite

Day 126, September 6, Mount Hood National Forest to Barlow Pass to Campsite, 3.1 miles (5 km)

We left our little haven in the forest around 8 this morning. We stopped for gas, I bought a burrito, and by 9.30 I said my goodbye to the boys at Barlow Pass. The trailhead had a little pic- nic table and I decided I needed some sleep first. The last two nights we often had too much fun so there was barely any sleep at night. My body felt like it could use a few hours of napping. I decided I would hike a few miles in the late afternoon so I would be closer to Timberline Lodge, where I will be tomorrow. That’s for then.The three miles were spent entirely in the forest. Beautiful forest. Oregon definitely has charm!

I came to a little creek, saw a nice, flat spot to camp, had my tent up, ate some pasta (pesto flavoured) and updated my blog. Time for a night of quality sleep in the quiet forest. 

Day 125: Crater Lake National Park to Mount Hood National forest

Day 125, September 5, Crater Lake National Park to Mount Hood National forest, 0 miles (0 km)

Day two of my little roadtrip was mostly spent in the car. Makes sense for a road trip. We drove all day, now and then stopping for gas and drinks. We also had a nice half hour at Odell Lake.

As the day was getting shorter we started looking for a place to camp for the night. We found a great spot in Mount Hood forest, just next to a creek. We are only an hour away from where Nick and the guys are dropping me off in the morning so I can hike the next days through the most Northern section of Oregon.
Just what I wanted! Great how this hitching, that began in Burney, turned out in an awesome few days on the road through beautiful Oregon.

Day 124: Lake Shastina to Crater Lake National Park

Day 124, September 4, Lake Shastina to Crater Lake National Park, 0 miles (0 km)

Tash, my driver from New Zealand, and I left Lake Shastina around 7.30 this morning. Next up was the two hour drive to Crater Lake. 

Although the sky was filled with smoke the views over this huge volcanic lake did not disappoint. 

We took some pictures at the rim when I suddenly heard someone shouting: ‘Tom!’. There were Nick, Matt and Woody. I had seen these guys through the desert and the last time in Mammoth. That was when Nick got off trail to buy himself a car in Phoenix. Back in Mammoth they had told me that they were gonna drive north to Portland. But what are the chances that I saw these guys again when I just got dropped off by Tash five minutes earlier. 
They told me I could jump in the car and that they would drop me off in Northern Oregon in two days time. In the meanwhile they were planning on checking out Oregon.

Ofcourse I took the offer and soon there were four people in the car!

We drove all day through the National Park, stopping at Diamond Lake, where we sat for a few hours at a beautiful, little beach after stuffing ourselves with pizza and chicken wings in a little pizzeria closeby.

Meet Nick, our driver.

In the evening we went over to the campground in the Park. We had some beers and a good night overall.
When driving through the Park we could clearly see a new fire building up. In the morning there was just a little smoke but as the day progressed, the fire grew. Scary how fast a whole area is up in flames.

Day 123: Burney Mountain Guest Ranch to Burney Falls to Lake Shastina

Day 123, September 3, Burney Mountain Guest Ranch to Burney Falls to Lake Shastina, 10 miles (16.1 km)

A mixed day of hiking, checking out the crowded Burney Falls and two hitches. It keeps on being an adventure!

Progress of the day:Left the ranch this morning in the company of Bill. Soon we each had our own pace and walked on our own. After a few miles I came upon the Wild Bird Cache where some trail angels stocked some lemonade and pretzels. I enjoyed both and soon Bill arrived. We sat together for a few minutes until we continued our way to Burney Falls. 

The hike went pretty much all the way through forest.

I got to the falls and damn, there were so many people, too many for my comfort. My mood turned into a not so great one, it reminded me of my day in Yosemite Valley. I walked down between the herds of people to see the falls from below and took some pictures. I made my way out of there pretty quick. Too much of a contrast with the quietness of the pct. But the falls were beautiful! It was well worth it.

There is a store in the Burney Falls State Park and I went over there to get a cold drink. When I was ready to go inside, Bill showed up. He was not too happy to be in this crowded place too. We bought some beers and went over to a pic-nic table in a quiet corner of the park. We talked for over an hour. The last few days I always had a nice time with him. The man is 64, just retired and was ready to spend a long time in the woods. He started early April at the Mexican border but went home for a few weeks to wait out the harsh conditions in the Sierra’s. His plan, so far, is to hike to the northern end of California and continue his hike next year.

The man was also part of the people that introduced Yosemite to the world as a mecca for climbing. In the beginning of the 70’s he lived in the infamous Camp 4 for over two years. I mentioned it before but I’ll do it again, if you have Netflix, check out ‘Valley Uprising’.

Around 2pm we said our goodbye’s to each other. Bill was gone hike a few more miles and I was heading over to the road to start my hitchhiking adventure to Crater Lake. I got picked up by a guy, his girlfriend and a visiting friend from Peru. The driver is working for Facebook in Silicon Valley. All three of them are Peruvian but only the visiting friend still lives there. They drove me all the way to the little town of Weed which was way further north than I thought I would get today. I changed my plan from hitch, train and bus into a complete hitching adventure.

Soon I was back on the road with my thumb in the air but this time it took me almost two hours before I got picked up by a girl from New Zealand that is on a two month holiday in the US. She said she planned on camping near Lake Shastina but was willing to drive me to Crater Lake in the morning. That was more than ok for me! Instead of buying train and bus ticket and arrive there tomorrow late afternoon I will now be at Crater Lake well before noon without spending a dollar. I love how things can work out!

By now it’s well past dark and time to close my eyes. Crater Lake tomorrow!

Day 122: Burney Mountain Guest Ranch

Day 122, September 2, Burney Mountain Guest Ranch, 0 miles (0 km)

A lazy day at the ranch. 

In the morning I had breakfast and used the computer for awhile. I figured out how I would be able to get to Crater Lake after walking to Burney Falls. It will take a hitch, a train and a bus ride. Let’s hope the info is correct.

Afterwards I played a game of pool against Bill. I won. 

The afternoon I took some small naps and watched a movie.

Dinner consisted of chicken huli huli, hawaiian style that is, and it was delicious!
That’s about it for today.