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Jo - Pacific Crest Trail Journal - 2008

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State: California
Country: USA
Begins: Apr 1, 2008
Direction: Northbound

Daily Summary
Date: Sat, Jul 28th, 2007
Start: Little Crater Lake
End: Zig Zag River
Daily Distance: 20.8
Trip Distance: 1,939.7

Journal Stats
Entry Visits: 328
Journal Visits: 73,683
Guestbook Views: 3,717
Guestbook Entrys: 9

Pacific Crest Trail Map

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Mt. Hood

Little Crater Lake to Zig Zag River

Kerry’s father and stepmother brought us here—it was 8:40 a.m.—a bit late after a slow beginning. We stood at the trailhead and took the traditional beginning photo of Jackson and Barbara in front of the trail sign. As Kerry snapped the picture, Jack raised his arms in a slow arc and when Kerry asked him what he was doing, he said, “if I’m a trail angel, I wonder how it feels to fly.” Immediately, I thought of Wendy, my high school friend who died a month ago, and who had been a trail angel for us in southern California, near Big Bear. I had a strong feeling of her being there and smiling at us. It was a fleeting moment that touched my soul. Our route would take us to the Bridge of the Gods in three days. There we would meet Kerry’s parents again with a resupply before we moved north into Washington. This meant that we would not have too much weight to begin our journey, a huge help. From Little Crater Lake, we walked the quarter mile to the Pacific Crest Trail where we said our good-byes to Jack and Barbara. At the junction, a group of people sat with water and food, apparently a supply point for a couple of charity runs that were happening on the path we would take. One was all the way to Mt Hood (and back) 18 miles away and the other was to Frog Lake (and back) about half that distance. For most of the day runners over took us and then met us again on their return. For fun we counted them like sheep the way wakeful sleepers do. Many of them would stop and ask about Cody—they would comment on his size, his breed and say things like, “what a beautiful dog.” It surprised us that they stopped. As usual, I had not really checked the route before we left. Reading topo maps has never been something that I have much talent for, so mostly I rely on Kerry who frequently doesn’t look at the map until we are on the trail. Consequently, I didn’t realize that Timberline Lodge was so close and that we would arrive there before the end of our first day. Had I done so, I would have planned to stop there the first night. Needless to say, this, our first day was uphill all day, starting at 3,200 feet we rose to almost 6,000—not a severe climb but a constant one. We walked mostly through trees catching glimpses of Mt. Hood from time to time. We grazed on the wild blueberries, commonly called huckleberries by almost everyone. Real huckleberries are smaller and have slightly different leaves. They also taste different, but the misnomer was so prevalent we just accepted it. There were wild strawberries too, which Kerry particularly enjoyed. They were tiny little berries but sweet as only the sun can make them. We would not go hungry on this trip! Sometime in the afternoon, we became aware that we were on Mt. Hood. We had walked a long way on an upward traverse but since we could not see the mountain ahead of us, it caught us by surprise to find ourselves on it. We came out of the trees and quite suddenly there was the mighty mountain before us and around us. I found myself thinking about the people who have died on it including several in the past winter. It is a vast and impressive sight and it commanded my respect—even in summer, I sensed that it was not a place to be taken lightly. There are many Indian stories about the mountains in the Cascades and one about Mount Hood that illustrates some of the ambivalence it evokes. In the old days the people that lived here were very tall, as tall as the pine trees on the mountain. Their chief was the tallest and the strongest among them. One day he had a dream that he must conquer the evil spirits that lived in the mountain to protect his people so he climbed the mountain alone. At the top, he found a great hole, a crater where the spirits lived and he threw huge boulders into the hole but this only aroused the spirits to anger and they spewed huge molten rocks. A mighty battle between the chief and the mountain waged for days and in the end, when the chief rested he saw that his land was ruined and his people had fled. He sat down on the mountain and wept. In time the people came back, but their children had been hungry for so long they never grew as tall as they once were. They say you can still see the face of the chief in a hollow half way up the North side of the mountain. We had crossed Barlow Road and the path had become somewhat more steep and increasingly soft and sandy. In fact, the ground had become quite difficult to walk on; it felt like for every two steps forward we took one back as our feet slid back in the soft dense earth. Now, the sun beat on us as the trees became few and far between and we grew hot and tired. Eventually, we crossed the gray and silty headwaters of the Sandy River where Cody plunged in and lay in its shallow, freezing waters gulping down the water as though it had been weeks since his last drink. We were very close to Timberline Lodge and although it was getting late (perhaps five o’clock), we felt we should stop and get something to eat. I sat down on the patio on the backside of the lodge while Kerry went to get some food and fill our water bottles. I sat there enjoying the view when a maitre d’ came up to me and explained that a wedding reception was planned there and that I should move along. She was very nice but there was really no where to go so I asked her if I could take Cody, a service dog, into the hotel. She said that would be fine and I went in search of Kerry. Meanwhile, he had purchased food and come looking for me. Eventually we found each other and we sat down to eat in the Ramshead Bar. The food was a little passed it’s peak, but it was tasty and an unexpected treat. We considered having a glass of Oregon Pinot but decided it would probably put an end to our hiking day and we needed to go a few more miles before the sun set. It’s funny how choices change things. The day was tired and well passed its prime but that hour or two we walked into the sunset was unusually lovely. Had we stayed at Timberline Lodge we would have missed the honeyed light that evening brought to the mountain that day. We crossed little streams and walked high on the mountain, passing a few straggling day hikers, presumably returning to the lodge for the night. Eventually we came to Zig Zag River where we planned to stop for the night. It was getting dark and there weren’t a lot of flat spots upon which to sleep, but we found a sand bar on higher ground in the now dry river and pulled out our sleeping bags to sleep under the stars. We were just thinking about lying down when we heard movement and Cody let out a “woof.” On the other side of the river a woman was walking with a backpack and two dogs. She had no walking sticks and the river was too high and fast for her to cross unassisted. Kerry loaned her his walking sticks and when she reached our side she explained that one of her dogs had playfully knocked her sleeping bag over a cliff and into the canyon. (At this point I was thinking, “What was she doing with an unpacked sleeping bag near a cliff?”). Her trip was over and she was returning to Timberline Lodge and the associated conveniences. After she left, we settled down to what would be one of three nights under the stars on this trip, but we didn’t know what was to come and now we just enjoyed the clear starry night and imagined Portland not too far afield and yet a life time away to the west.

Entry 126 of 174
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Journal Photo

Confessions Of A Serial Hiker

The Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) is a 2,650-mile national scenic trail that runs from Mexico to Canada through California, Oregon and Washington. The PCT traverses 24 national forests, 37 wilderness areas and 7 national parks. The PCT passes through 6 out of 7 of North Americas ecozones. Learn more:


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