PCT Washington – White Pass

White Pass to Cascade Locks Oregon 7th July The next stage in our trek involved a long section of 147 miles to the Oregon border on the Columbia River at a small town called Cascade Locks. This meant carrying 7 days food initially so we braced ourselves for heavy rucksacks! Our mail arrived at 11am and after a bit of sorting and reposting we hiked out past the ski slopes and upwards towards Goat Rocks Wilderness – covering a healthy 15 miles. We settled down high up on the mountainside at a point our guidebook described as a ‘bleak alpine campsites’ at 6,320 feet to, ironically, one of the finest camps we had experienced so far with lovely views to Mt Rainier!

Mt Rainier

We were off hiking at 7am the next morning along the jaggy crest of Goat Rocks amidst magnificent scenery- we felt like we were afloat that day! Martina spotted around 40 mountain goats below us in a snowy coire bowl and we sat and watched them for a while- Martina was ecstatic at having seen these elusive creatures. Continuing onwards we rounded the snow slopes of Old Snowy Mountain into a beautiful alpine cirque before descending green meadows to forest. The Goat Rocks area was fantastic but short lived.

From here it got hotter and the mozzies reappeared so we solved this problem the best way we could- we kept on hiking! We eventually made it to a small creek down at 4,690 feet after 25.5 miles at 19.45pm- a long day.

10th July There was some thunder and rain as we awoke and our tent was still besieged by mozzies so we scrambled our gear together and departed each with our own personal black cloud hanging above our heads. Our next goal was to traverse round the side of volcanic Mt Adams but first we had to travel for a couple of hours through fairly dull new growth forest. On the way we stopped to drink water straight from Lava Springs at the foot of an old lava flow and admired the meadows and flowers at the foot of the glaciers dropping from Mt Adams.

Although we were well into July, the season up here was definitely still spring and we had to negotiate many swollen streams and melting snow patches on our route round the mountain. The PCT descended back into forest after the delightful section past Mt Adams and we were relieved to be able to camp without our friends the mosquitoes that night after making 23.3 miles that day. The forest was our companion for the next two days, however the trees are mostly old growth with ‘gothic like’ hanging mosses and lichens and provide a pleasant backdrop to our hike. The trail is littered with fallen trees from the winter storms and these keep us occupied scrambling over, under, along and through a spaghetti like barrier of branches. 

We put in two more 25 mile days of forest hiking before camping near Wind River next to a lovely golden meadow – with Oregon and the Columbia River gorge only 34 miles away and within our sights. We passed two other PCT hikers Alexis and John who skipped some of the earlier snow sections and have an enjoyable chat with them – other than that there is no one else around. Two stiff climbs near Table Mountain await us before we reached Oregon and we stopped between them to cook some rice for lunch for some extra energy. At our camp 8.5 miles short of Oregon we were quite exhausted 6 days out from town and after averaging 25 miles per day for the last 5 of those days.  We both dreamt of good food, showers and a clean bed tomorrow at Cascade Locks.

Our trail descended easily down to the Columbia River at 200 feet above sea level here, the lowest elevation on our trail. That could only mean one thing- our next hiking would be uphill!!

To cross the river we walked over the road bridge ‘ Bridge of Gods’ with an air of triumph and a skip to our steps. We had traversed Washington, our first complete state and had done so through adverse heavy snow conditions where many others had turned back and we felt justifiably proud of ourselves. A doubt still lingering though was that despite taking medication, Martina still had Giardia symptoms and that wasn’t good at all. Strangely enough, the bridge had a toll booth on the Oregon side and I laughed when the woman attendant asked for a fee for us to walk across the bridge- when I told her we had hiked from Canada to get here she gracefully let us through for free!

Next, Oregon……!

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