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PCT 2015 Day 128: Magical Mountain Roads

  • Start: 2,226.6
  • End: 2,263.4
  • Miles: 37 (minus 24 for closure, plus 4 miles hiked on the road)
  • Camp: After Walupt Lake turnoff

We had a steep uphill first thing, which I’m getting to like as it is pretty chilly in the mornings and I need the exertion to warm up. As we came over the hill, we came out into the sun and took a pause at Forest Road 23 to dry off condensation on sleeping bags and tents. Hannah Solo’s parents were there and gave us orange juice and peanut butter and banana sandwiches before hiking up the trail to meet her. I’d just been talking about town food cravings of hamburgers and orange juice, so the timing was perfect!

The road is the place most people hitch to Trout Lake so it’s a gathering point as people leave and return to the trail. More so now, as it is also the point from which the trail is closed northbound due to the Mount Adams fire. The detour is a road walk around the same length as the closure; around 25 miles. Sounded horrendous to me! Cinderfly and Kyle came by having decided to go into town. Soon after, Fancy Feet, Baggins and Wu-Tang came along and also stopped to air out tents and say hi. They thought they might be lucky with the closed section reopening possibly tomorrow. Too late for us though. 

We decided to start the road walk with thumbs out ready for any cars that might be heading up the small forest road. Andy pulled up after a mile or so and took us almost half way to the turnoff for Takhlakh Lake. We felt sure that our chances of hitching on the even smaller road that led past the lake would be slim, but I was resolved to remain hopeful as we still had maybe 12-15 miles to hike. Plenty of time for someone to drive by. After stopping for a snack, and for me to get stung by a wasp again (just flew up, stung me and flew off again – why??) we hiked on. The first couple of cars didn’t stop, but after a couple of miles, Stargazer drove by in a car with his sister and brother in law. Joan and David were delightful, and we realised we’d met David briefly at the campsite just before Indian Springs where we started the Eagle Creek alternate.

Just a mile from the trail, we stopped to cram in Smiles who had road walked the whole closure until we picked him up. Joan and David invited the three of us to have lunch with them and Stargazer, and set up a picnic table and camp chairs right there in the road. We ate a wonderful lunch of sandwiches, soda, and salads, a fantastic unexpected bit of trail magic.

We hiked just 7 miles up the hill after lunch to camp and entered the wonderfully named Goat Rocks Wilderness. I’ve heard a lot about the beauty of this part of the trail and I’m looking forward to tomorrow.

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