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Jack and Barb
Begins: Apr 17, 2011
Date: Sat, Sep 3rd, 2011
Start: Mile 2107
End: mile 2117
Daily Distance: 10
Trip Distance: 2,101.7
Entry Visits: 1,863
Journal Visits: 384,597
Guestbook Views: 167,210
Guestbook Entrys: 482
Kicked off the PCT!
It's 8:30 am. I am back at Timberline Lodge. Barb and I had a great time yesterday but all these miles did a number on her. She is having problems with her IT bands and some of the Glute muscles but should recover quickly. Yep, she pushed the envelope a bit too far over the last week (now with 1,050 PCT miles).
The downhike yesterday went quickly. We were at the road by 3 pm. Again, the hitching looked hard but another wonderful person, Regan stopped and gave us a ride to Government Camp. We stayed at the Huckleberry Inn and, of course, we tried the Huckleberry shakes while we were staying there.
Barb is off today for Portland and flys home tomorrow. We said goodbye at Govt. Camp and I was off with Franz the owner of a ski shop at the hotel (Yogi'd the ride yesterday).
I restart at Timberline Lodge. It is windy today and the wind is blowing from the East. Soon, I expect to be in some smoke from the Dollar Lake fire.
It is 47 miles from here to Cascade Locks. I should be able to do that in two days.
I am anxious to put on some miles.
I got into the smoke at about mile 2110 (three miles in). It was light at first then progressively got worse. Mt. Hood had this eerie haze surrounding it. When I reached the Sandy River (mile 2117) it looked like it was snowing but it was ash from the fire. I was wearing my bandanna over my mouth and nose. It was quite effective but it was hot.
I could tell it was not going to be a fun day. I had a big climb ahead of me and the smoke seemed to be progressively getting worse. I came around a corner and came upon a group of about 8 young guys, posing for pictures. I looked over, it was the PCT with big branches covering the trail and a sign that said "PCT Closed due to fire".
WHAT? Closed? I talked to the guys. They said that a ranger just closed it about 15 minutes ago and she was in there right now evacuating all those on the loop.
Boy was I ever bummed. 15 minutes I thought. If I had just skimmed 15 minutes from anywhere in the day, I would be well ahead of the ranger and on my way. I almost couldn't believe this sign. What now?
Yesterday, Barb made me promise her that I would not jump any trail closures. I might have jumped this one and hid in the bushes for a bit before resuming my hike but Barb seemed to know what might happen and what I might do - so I couldn't even think about it. I followed the guys out to the parking lot on some trail that veered off to the left of the PCT.
I didn't even know where I was going, only that I was getting further away from the PCT with every step. Boy was I bummed!
I started chatting it up with the oldest guy in the group. He seemed to know his way about the area. He told me I might be able to reconnect to the PCT at Lolo Pass. "How do I get there?" I asked. He replied with a fairly convoluted answer that required going down this road then turning right on this road then looking for power lines etc. He seemed to think it was about 5 miles away (via a road walk). I said "Hey, do you want to make some quick cash? Take me to Lolo Pass, Ten bucks!" He was in.
We got to the parking lot, jumped into his car and along with another car of guys, were off. We went down this small road for about 5 miles then came to an intersection, "Lolo Pass Road" the sign said. "We go right here," Jeff said. But on our left, down the road about 2 blocks was an NFS truck with flashing lights.
Jeff looks at me. "Let's go for it and see what happens." He waited for his friends car to come up alongside on the left side. He told his friend to run cover for him and try to engage the NFS guy down the road. We both pulled out together. Jeff blasted up Lolo Pass road. After about a minute, we could see the flashing light bar behind us. The NFS guy was chasing us down. Jeff looked at me again. "Shall we try to get you to the pass before he catches us? We are very close." I said "No, by the time I jump out and get my pack on, he will be breathing down my neck and I suspect he will be quite irritated. Best to pull over and I will try to present my case."
We pull over. The NFS truck pulls up alongside. "Turn around and go back" He barks at us. "I'm a PCT hiker" I say. "If I can get on the trail here, I will be long gone in a matter of minutes. I have about 15 more miles to do today" "No way" He says, "You have to exit now, the trail is closed, Lolo Pass Road is closed"
So, that was that. There was no way I was going to get back on the trail today. Jeff drove me to a small town called Zig Zag. I had no idea where I was. I was well off Halfmile's maps but there was a ranger station there. I was dropped off at the ranger station. Jeff wanted nothing for his services but I stuffed a 5 in his pocket anyway.
The rangers at Zig Zag were extremely kind and helpful. One gave me material to write a hitching sign. Another offered a ride at 4:30 when he got off work. I decided to take him up on the ride offer.
Mathew, the ranger lives in Portland and drove me to Troutville, a suburb of Portland on the East side. From there a nice young lady, Sara and her daughter, picked me up and took me right into Cascade Locks. I arrived about 5:45.
I am staying at the Bridge of the Gods Motel - highly recommended. Sharon, the owner is most helpful and they give PCT hikers a discount.
So what am I to do?
There is a trail called the Eagle Creek Alternate that heads up the hill from here. It is supposedly a most wonderful trail. I will hike that tomorrow. If I have time, I plan to do a big 30+ mile loop and come back down the PCT (which very few people take).
I am now coming to grips with the situation. It would have been a very miserable time, climbing that hill and continuing on today in all that smoke. It could have even been detrimental to my health. It would not have been fun. Even if it is only a "smoke" closure, it is a closure nevertheless and there is nothing I can do about it.
So, the journey must go on. I am going to hike some miles out of here tomorrow, spend tomorrow night here (as originally planned) then move on to Washington.
Oregon is done, well, mostly done, well, I think it may be done anyway (you know how I must feel!). I may return here after Canada and knock off this section, it is still kinda bugging me.
It is hard to comprehend being kicked off the trail that you have been attached to for so long. But today, I was kicked off the PCT.
Jack And Barb Take On The PCT
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