Sunday, August 30, 2009

Sisters to Cascade Locks

It was 11:30 am, we were all packed up, and it was time to check out of our Sisters Inn. As I was putting on my 2nd shoe, I hesitated. Em noticed and asked me what I was thinking. I looked up and said to her "Wanna take a zero?" A smile appeared on her face, and I knew at that instant we had just decided to take the day off.

Sisters is a faux-western touristy town, but a great layover for a thru-hiker. It has all the amenities we need and love: a motel with a hiker rate ($50), a huge grocery store complete with foods (trail mix) sold in bulk, a microbrewery, a movie house, and a little downtown with many restaurants and pizza places.

Along with fun things like window shopping, taking in a movie, and lazing at the motel, we did have some errands to run as well. We had to find denatured alcohol for our stove. Before the last section, we were almost out so we were forced to build fires to cook. How primitive! Also, Em had to get herself an eating utensil. She bought that spork back in Ashland but lost it somewhere on the trail, probably during lunch one day. She spent 3 days eating with a spoon (more like a spatula) that she whittled from a stick. My wife, she's pretty crafty. And lastly, we needed to figure out a way to treat our water, since I had broken our filter a few days prior. Broke the handle right off the thing. We ended up researching it online and found out that bleach would do the trick. Until we can get to an outfitters, that's how we're treating our water.

Tuesday morning, we caught a ride back up to the trailhead with a Bend trail angel named Lloyd. He's hiked the entire PCT, but in 45 years! During the 20 minute ride, he educated us on things like the forest fire that came through here last year, why Three Fingered Jack, a local mountain, was named that, and even some interesting stories of the Lewis & Clark expedition. I must say that one of the great things about hiking this trail is the people we've met.

It was 148 miles from Sisters to Cascade Locks... 6 days of hiking. Mt Jefferson (10,497 feet), named for President Jefferson by Lewis & Clark in 1806 as they were headed back east, and Mt Hood (11,249 feet), were the focal points of this section. Along with beautiful vistas of these, we walked again through dense Oregon forests, on a trail that got a bit harder as we moved north. We dubbed the miles between Mt Jefferson Wilderness and Mt Hood National Forest the Little Sierras, as the gradient steepened, and we even had a snow field to traverse... in August! Huckleberries lined the trail at times, so we noshed on these as we made our miles, again having our biggest day yet at 31.6 miles. We got lucky too, with our camping spots, setting up our tent 3 consecutive nights along the shores of a lake: Shale, Jude, and Timothy respectively.

On the 4th day, we came to Timberline Lodge (setting for "The Shining") and the start of the Hood to Coast relay. Instinctively migrating to the Clif Bar booth, Ty the Clif Bar rep unloaded dozens of these bars on us when he found out we were thru-hikers. Sweet! Dinner and pitchers of microbrews at the Rams Head bar in the Lodge that night, and an all-you-can-eat breakfast buffet the next morning filled our bellies. Rooms were too expensive here so we stealth camped up the slope a little ways with our pals Willie and Hungry. 2 more days of walking, and we found ourselves in Cascade Locks, directly across the Columbia River from Washington. Holy cow, 2 states down.

So, here at 2155 trail miles, we have only 500 to go. As is obvious, we surpassed 2000 miles in the last section (Em forgot to mention this in the last entry), which makes us feel pretty good. Making it to Washington also gets us excited. Some mileage math I did in my head recently on the Trail:
  • It took us 66 days to walk the 1st 1000 miles. 51 days to walk the 2nd 1000.
  • To hike across California: 101 days. Oregon: 23 days.

Into Washington we go.


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