Cascade locks – salvation spring
28.2 miles (although I took the Eagle
Creek alternate which is 4 miles shorter, but a lot more intense!) 8226ft up. 4328ft down.
I didn’t get to sleep until late as I was on my phone a lot today and my brain was wired. Shrek is a great guy and what he does for hikers is awesome. But his place is a state and that’s the fault of the hikers mainly. There is trash everywhere, empty beer cans rolling about in the wind, half eaten food strewn across the tables and everything is covered in thick layers of dirt. His yard is a dust bowl and the wind whips through and coats everything. There are a couple of dogs who piss everywhere, that’s nice for hikers to sleep on!
There is also a big drug culture there and while I’m not against anyone doing whatever they want I don’t want to be passively smoking it. So when I could smell it at 5:30am I was looking forward to getting out of there.
I pitched just the inner of my tent, most people cowboy camped, but I had seen a couple of snakes in town yesterday so there was no way I was taking that risk. It also might help keep some of the dust off. It was really hot and I didn’t need my sleeping bag covering me.
I packed up quickly and I waited patiently to use the bathroom while two boys went in there before me and had a big dump judging by the warmth of the toilet seat when I got in there. I saw one guy leave the bathroom and took my opportunity. My bum had barely touched the seat when there was a knock at the door. ‘Yep’ I said. I had a very quick wee and then went to the sink to clean my teeth. Just as I stuck my toothbrush in my mouth another knock at the door. I didn’t respond. I turned on the tap to wash my toothbrush. Another knock at the door. ‘What do you want’ I said, annoyed that I couldn’t even have 2 minutes in the bathroom. ‘You’re not having a shower are you’ said a voice from the other side of the door. ‘No, I’m cleaning my teeth’. ‘Well you could do that outside’ he said.
I opened the door and Lion King was stood there. The man I met the other day who finished up his hike a few days ago and has just been hanging around Shreks house. ‘I waited patiently for my turn while two boys went in before me and if I want to clean my teeth in the sink then I will’ I said. I was pissed off now. I walked away as he was still muttering something. I don’t care what he was saying.
I need to get out of here.
I hurriedly grabbed my stuff and just after 6am started walking down the road. I wanted to get an early start with the hope it would be a bit cooler. Nothing in town was open so I ate a cereal bar as I walked away from Cascade Locks. I had to make the decision to do the ‘real pct’ or the eagle creek alternate. The majority of people do the alternate because you get to see tunnel falls, which is a waterfall with a tunnel behind it. It is 4 miles shorter than the official pct route but it does involve a 1700ft climb over 1.9 miles if you’re heading south, which is intense. I remember it being intense when I was going down it. I decided on the alternate. I’d like to see tunnel falls again.
I stomped up the road to get the the trail head. I was feeling pissed off. I was hot already. My knees hurt. I didn’t want to walk on the road. I didn’t want to do the giant uphill. I was missing my friends and my family. I felt guilty for being so far away when my best friend was having a difficult time. I was missing a trail family. I didn’t want to see anyone. I was dreading seeing hundreds of nobos and hundreds of weekenders. I didn’t feel like making conversation.
Then to make things worse I went the wrong way. Twice. The first one I missed the sign to the trail, so I went back on myself. I should have just carried on along the road, I would have got to the same place and I would have gotten there quicker. Then I just lost the ability to read my gps, I kept going the wrong way and wondering why it said I was floating in the middle of nowhere. Eventually, after a lot of faffing about, I made it to the start of the trail. I hoped I hadn’t wasted too much of my early start.
It was nice and cool to begin with and the first 13 miles of the 15 mile trail are beautiful. You follow the creek on a sometimes very narrow and often very rocky path. There are lots of mini waterfalls and water formations to look at. I saw a lot of tents pitched, I’m up too early for the weekenders.
About 9 miles in you get to tunnel falls and it is impressive. It’s not exactly Victoria Falls, but it is cool that it has a tunnel behind it that you can walk through. I stayed there for a while and tried to get a decent picture of it. A nobo guy came past, I offered to take his picture. He declined. Suit yourself. My strop from this morning was loosening its grip and I was trying to let myself relax.
I carried on until I got hungry and I was nearing that big climb. I stopped and sat on a tree and ate this bit of cake I bought from the store. I inspected the packet. The list of ingredients was too long. This is really bad for me! Then I saw it had 400 calories. Four hundred calories in one slice of cake!! Well, let’s hope it boosts me up that climb.
While I’m there a group of girls came and sit with me (note how I didn’t say I was here first, this space is taken). One of the women was carrying a 6 month old baby. They were hiking from Timberline Lodge to Cascade locks (55ish miles) over 4 days. She said the baby was quite heavy!
I couldn’t put it off any longer and carried on walking up to the climb. It was obvious when I got there, it was a trail that went vertically up the hill. Ok. Slowly but surely. I wasn’t going to go fast but I wasn’t going to stop. And I only stopped once because I needed a wee. I saw a few nobos coming down when I wasn’t too far from the top. I think I got their respect. I was lucky because it was definitely cooler today and there were only a few exposed bits.
The climb was horrible because it was so steep but I eventually made it to the top (last years camp) and treated myself to my only avocado (the rest in the shop were rock hard) and Fritos.
It was about 1:30pm by now and time to get back on the trail, and the trail was a dream compared to this morning. Gently rolling and not too rocky. As I came round a corner I got a great view of Mt St Hellens, Mt Rainier and Mt Adams. I stood and stared at the impressive line up of mountains (all of which I would like to climb one day) and wondered why I didn’t remember this. Because I hiked this bit in the dark last year!
The trail continued to be beautiful and I saw a couple of people who were the only ones I had an actual conversation with today. One American lady who thought I was Australian, as an Australian man who is carrying on without his wife who had broken a bone in her foot and has gone back to Aus for surgery.
I dawdled along some of the trail and got distracted by some cell service for a while. I collected some water at Salvation Spring, and continued .2 of a mile to a tent site. It was only just after 6 and I could have carried on longer but I didn’t want to go another 7 miles today. This is advertised as a restricted area with no fires allowed, but when I got there I found a fire ring with a load of trash in it. Including a pct map. What is wrong with people? I also found shitty toilet paper and unburied shit near the camp site. Gross.
I don’t bother to cook. I just eat some Cheetos, goldfish and a cookie. I look at the maps and realise there is a better campsite in 4.3 miles. How did I miss that earlier? It even has a picnic table. But it’s now 8pm. It’s cold tonight, I’m all cosy in my sleeping bag and I don’t want to get up and move. I’ll just have to get an early start in the morning.
I’m walking thousands of miles for Just A Drop because everyone should have access to clean water. Donate here.