Thursday, August 21, 2014, Mile 2154: Hitting the Trail

At a small campsite, Mile 2154

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Early sunrise, and I can’t wait to hit the trail!

This is it! We got up before dawn, and had breakfast next door to the hotel. Then Steve and I walked up to the bridge. He took a few pictures, and I was on my way, a little teary with excitement, at 7:30. Mile 2144!

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One last picture before crossing the bridge.
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Almost halfway across the bridge, where I enter Washington.
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Across the bridge, and ready to go.
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The beginning of the Washington PCT, at mile 2145.
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Only 507 miles to go…although Halfmile’s GPS survey in 2014 shows it to be 515 miles. Details, details.

So my pack is heavy! I pounded out four miles by 11:00, but as the grade increased, I slowed way down. Wondering if I estimated food consumption correctly.

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Coming out of the trees, just up from the river.
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Looking down at the river and the dam.
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Crossing a small stream, with an appropriately labeled bridge.
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Prickly Lettuce. Even at the end of wildflower season, there were little gems like this.
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Greenleaf Creek

I was counting on loading up with water at Cedar Creek, so I had skipped Greenleaf (2150). Cedar Creek was way down a ravine, on a dirt road, with no proof of its existence. Reluctantly, I pushed on.

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The Bonneville Dam spillway.

Fortunately it’s been wet lately, so a mile after the missing Cedar Creek junction, I crossed the seasonal stream which becomes Cedar, at approximately 2152. Loaded up on 3.5 L because there’s no water until an iffy spring at 2160 (Three Corner), and no guaranteed unto Rock Creek at 2164. That gave me just shy of a liter for every three miles. This is the water ratio I need to work out, given weather, exposure, hiking speed, and elevation gain. And for medical reasons, I need to always have extra water on hand. Running out isn’t an option, and that makes the ratio even harder to compute.

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Stopping at the seasonal upstream portion of Cedar Creek, to fill up on water.

This entire section, Cascade Locks to Panther Creek, consists of two ridges/ravines, and relatively little water. As a new section hiker, it has been hard to judge my water consumption. There’s a balancing act: pack weight vs pace vs water need vs water availability vs food requirements vs estimated food requirements. My pack weight is high, my pace is low, my water need is high, the water availability is low, and I’ve got a full load of food. The lesson here is to try and find a sweet spot, and make that sweet spot an easier and easier place to find.

Met Slacker at the spring. He was really cool, and said he hopes he can do something great for his 50th. This will be awhile 🙂

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Heading NW after getting water
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The Columbia, with just a hint of late-summer color in the foreground.

Called it a day at the campsite at 2154. Nine-plus miles, 3300 feet of elevation gain, with a bitch of a pack. Tomorrow I should start about 4 lbs lighter, and I won’t have a dry spell nearly this long again. Spent an hour or so reading, and then bed before 6:30.

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Setting up camp
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Because every good hike starts with a selfie in the tent.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014, Mile 2144: Cascade Locks

At the Best Western Hotel in Cascade Locks, Mile 2144

Steve and I drove to Cascade Locks, with my excitement building. This is definitely a hiker town, with thru-hikers everywhere, carrying their resupply boxes, and a big advertisement for Shrek’s, in the grocery store. Shrek is a trail angel who hosts any and all hikers coming through. He’s known for his oversize green bandannas. I met Mountain Mamma, who commented on my Philmont t-shirt. She works with Scouts and Venturers in Michigan. And she chided me for saying I “can only” do a section hike. The correct phrase is I *am* doing a section hike. We’re all on the trail. Mountain Mamma, Steve, and I shared milkshakes and had a great time hanging out. Love it!

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The view from our hotel room…tantalizing!
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Bridge of the Gods

After shakes, we hit the grocery store and ended up at the pub, for one last burger. Then we strolled around town, checked out the old locks, and generally had a great time before heading back to the hotel. Tomorrow!