July 27, 2016
Muddy fork (mile 2106.4) to bushcamp (3.3 miles on Eagle Creek Alternate trail)
Miles:22 (18.7 PCT miles + 3.3 miles on alternate trail)
Today started out with an adventurous stream crossing. Andy went across Muddy Fork last night to get water and knew it would be more challenging with packs on.
Laurie saw this crossing for the first time at 6:15 in the morning.
Muddy Fork is murky, which makes for a tricky ford. But there are two large trees one can use to get across. You ‘simply’ step on one of the trees that is about 5 feet above the water while holding onto a rope rigged on the other tree.
We got across just fine by taking our time. Laurie chose to hold onto the tree rather than the rope and kept asking andy if her feet were on the log as she took steps.
It looks like Oregon isn’t going to let us go without a few more surprises.
We climbed for a few miles under the canopy of tall trees.
Half way up our climb we came upon huckleberry bushes full of burgundy dots. Unfortunately they were sour, probably because they don’t get much sunlight.
We carried on, slightly disappointed.
Having walked only a half mile, we were stopped in our tracks again by more huckleberries. These were in the sun and delicious!
We dropped our packs and got to pickin. After 15 minutes we had purple lips, purple tongues and purple hands. We also had a Talenti jar full of delicious huckleberries.
At this point we decided we should make a huckleberry pie when we get to Portland tommorow. So we kept picking (and eating).
Fifteen minutes later we pulled ourselves from the bushes, shouldered our packs and got hiking. We had hoped to hike at least 24 miles today to leave only 10 miles for tomorrow morning into Cascade Locks, but after hiking only 2.3 miles in the first two hours, we knew this was going to be a tall order.
We hiked down the trail with happy bellies fantasizing about the pie we would make in town.
The trail was more of a rollercoaster today, but it didn’t matter whether we went up or down. We had huckleberry bushes teeming with ripe berries waiting to be picked.
“I can’t pass these up” Laurie said as she stopped for the umpteenth time.
“How could the others pass these up?” Wondered Andy as he dropped his pack to join in on the feast.
Because we set reasonable mileage goals for ourselves everyday we can afford to take multiple breaks and still get to camp on time.
After filling another Talenti with huckleberries we hiked again. Our bodies don’t like stopping and starting because they get stiff, but today it’s worth it.
“Looks like we have to eat lunch as we hike today” Laurie said.
“Yeah, not too many shoes off breaks either” said Andy.
“I have to pee” he continued.
Andy stopped to pee, but was mumbling to himself. As Laurie got closer she realized he was picking and eating huckleberries while peeing.
Ha! Very classy.
From camp last night it was 18.7 miles to the junction with the Eagle Creek Trail. We figured we’d be there by 3:30, not bad considering how little it felt like we had hiked.
Around 130pm the trail opened up and we were treated to more views of Mt. Hood, this time looking south. It was hot and we were sweating buckets but we didn’t care. We stopped for a few moments to appreciate this mountain’s beauty.
Within a week we had walked to and around Mt Hood. This hiking business is pretty amazing. Laurie keeps scheming to find a way to make a living while thru hiking.
A few hours later, we once again escaped from the thick forest and walked along a rocky ridge. Looking north into Washington we could see Mt. Saint Helens, Mt. Adams and Mt. Rainer. It was simply incredible.
We are realizing that even though the Pacific Crest Trail doesn’t go up and over many peaks, it offers grand views of many of them.
At 3:15 we got to the junction to find Paul and Lois setting up their tent, and Ben and Nate hanging out alongside them.
We told them we were going to continue on a few more miles and that they were welcome to join us.
Paul and Lois were done for the day but the boys came with us.
The trail was very steep at first. No switchbacks, no mercy. Just knee crushing downhill.
The heat today didn’t help either, especially when we crossed over onto the shade less side of the ridge.
After about a half mile we reached a junction and the trail improved. It was gently graded, smooth and wide. It felt like we had entered a temperate rainforest. We were moist, the air felt moist and we were walking amidst a sea of green.
We coasted along until we reached a campsite not on Guthook’s maps (Halfmile doesn’t list any camping options or water sources on his maps or app).
The boys were ready to stop but we wanted to keep moving at first. It was only 5:30pm and we had a goal in mind.
After doing the math and realizing we have 12.5 miles left for tomorrow we decided to call it a day.
This place is beautiful and we are happy to stop early. The trees are tall, it’s very green and not very buggy. Oh, and the creek is only a tenth of a mile away.
Tonight is the last night on trail for Ben and Nate. They are going to be seniors in high school and have other plans before going back to into the classroom.
Nate has hiked all of Oregon with several partners while Ben has hiked over 200 miles. We are very proud of these guys. They are strong hikers and have done an amazing job. It’s a pleasure to share tonight with them.
It really goes to show that everyone out here is ageless. Paul and Lois are in their 50s, we’re in our early 30s and ‘the boys’ are in their teens. It’s one of the aspects that makes this trail very special.
After eating dinner and getting clean in the lukewarm river, we lay in our tent admiring our surroundings.
The sun penetrated through the tall trees, coloring the forest in many shades of green. Staring up we admired the pattern of the branches spiraling out of the trunk. All of this with a nice blue backgtound. If only we were artists, we could try to recreate this image.
It’s truly fabulous here. There is no noise other than that of the creek. And us of course, as we shift on our pads until comfortable.
Once again it’s passed hiker midnight and time for bed, our last night on the trail in Oregon.
Tonight we are grateful for giant trees and shade.