I planned 4 nights from Trout Lake to Cascade Locks, but we did it in 3. Last year I learned that a nero with a pack fully loaded with food works best for me on the first day out of a resupply spot. We hiked 14 and pitched our tents in a scrubby second growth patch of trees, which left 20-21 the next day to a “WACS” according to Halfmile’s maps. That’s Water Campsite. A sweet spot under big trees uphill from a clear, cool spring. We met a couple SOBOs, southbounders, in Trout Lake, Deadman and Couch Man, and along with Andy, a sweet guy with a bum ankle, and new to us, Old Big Feet, there have been familiar faces in this stretch to balance the flood of NOBOs we cross trail with every day.
Slide Rule examined the maps and decided we should do 16, 17 and 13 mile days to get us to Cascade Locks on schedule. But when he saw the, literally, shitty condition of the WACS at 16 we opted to pack water another 4 miles uphill to an abandoned dirt road that Guthook describes as a campsite in a pinch. It was perfect and 3 NOBOs joined us later on in this lovely high point with a slight breeze that kept nighttime temps relatively cool in the heat wave we are in.
That 20 left just 26 to air conditioning. I called the Best Western at 6:30am and secured a room for that (third) night. Game on. Dan was noncommittal about making the miles, having never hiked that far. In fact, this whole hike has been a series of “most miles ever hiked in a day with a backpack” for him. 13, 18, 20. To get to the Bridge of the Gods, there was an 11 mile water carry, with a lot of uphill, and temperatures that rose from overnight 70’s to over 100. When I got to the hotel 11 hours later, I nearly passed out. I hate the heat almost as much as I hate being cold. Why am I not back living in Hawaii? I could walk around each of the islands as a hobby.
Anyway, I took a shower and went to The Bridge restaurant and watched for Dan. See photo from inside. I was too tired and it was too hellishly hot to go back outside to take a proper photo. Plus the nearby NOBO would probably have taken advantage of my french fries.
Dan, Slide Rule, walked the entire State of Washington! Not bad for an old guy of 68 with a pig’s heart valve in his chest. “Better not let him eat pork anymore, he might be eating a relative,” said some random fisherman on the trail. And his last day was huge, 26 miles! Now he gets to go home, kick some cats, deal with a kitchen remodel and plan the fall moose hunt.
Me, I get to keep hiking south. I think I have the better deal.