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PCT 2015 Day 121: Eagle Creek and the end of OR

  • Start: 2,121.4
  • End: 2,149.3
  • Miles: 27.9 (minus 4 for the shorter Eagle Creek alternate)
  • Camp: Cascade Locks

No surprise that this morning began windy and chilly again. I’m expecting more of this the further north I get. Luckily it makes the actual hiking part of hiking a lot more fun, because I don’t feel like I’m about to overheat with every step up a hill. The first few miles of today therefore passed very uneventfully and rather quickly.

At the Indian Springs junction, we headed away from the PCT on to a side trail which would lead into Cascade Locks via the Eagle Creek gorge, meant to be incredibly scenic, as well as a couple of miles shorter. The Indian Springs trail descended almost 2,000ft in 2 miles and it reminded me that hikers on the PCT are spoiled by the gentler grade needed for horses.

The Eagle Creek trail itself passed through mixed forest with some deciduous trees, and I noticed a distinct change in the quality of light. The light passing through the tops of the pine trees gets stopped high above the forest floor and the trail is a shaded grey green underneath. The sycamore trees are smaller, with thin leaves that allow some light to pass, bathing the forest floor in yellows and oranges. The leaves have started to fall, and the day without rain has allowed some of them to remain crispy as they fall. I had fun drawing a trekking pole through them, poking holes and flicking them into the air. Even more fun were the sycamore seeds, watching them flutter to the ground like little helicopters.

Soon we came upon Tunnel Falls, a tall waterfall with a rock tunnel behind it where you can hear the water thundering overhead. We passed several waterfalls today, as well as pool after pool of crystal clear water. 

As the day wore on we saw more and more day hikers, reminding me that Portland is not all that far away. The earlier ones had hiked nearly 7 miles by the time we saw them, and I think that Portlanders must be quite outdoorsy people. 

At the trailhead, we were directed by a volunteer host to a bike path which would spit us out at Cascade Locks. In just 2 short miles I had my first view of the Columbia River and the Bridge of the Gods. Oregon, done.

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