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Jack and Barb
Begins: Apr 17, 2011
Date: Sun, Sep 4th, 2011
Start: Cascade Locks
End: Cascade Locks
Daily Distance: 8
Trip Distance: 2,109.7
Entry Visits: 1,669
Journal Visits: 385,602
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Guestbook Entrys: 482
Yesterday I was pretty perturbed about being kicked off the PCT. Today, I hiked the Eagle Creek trail out of Cascade Locks and I have a whole new attitude.
I just came to grips with skipping (on a previous journal entry) and a fire forces me to skip part of the PCT. Why did it tick me off? The way I see it, if I choose to skip a part of the trail, it is ok because I choose to do that. But in the case of yesterday's closure, I didn't choose to skip that part. I was planning on hiking that part, smoke, ash and all. So, I think it wasn't the fact that I would be missing this part of the PCT, but rather the fact that someone else was making this decision for me.
Today, I am over it. In the big picture, to me, it is meaningless. I left the trail yesterday at mile 2117. I would have hiked to the Eagle Creek "alternate" trail at mile 2136. Then I would have continued on to Cascade Locks, where I am now.
I figure I missed about 19 miles of PCT. And what would those 19 miles have been like? I can only guess, in the smoke and ash, plodding up a big hill. I now think the NFS guys did me a big favor.
The PCT, like all trails is dynamic. It is ever changing. A tree falls and blocks the trail. A wood cutter come in and clears it. A river goes from impassible to a summer trickle. A fire changes the landscape forever. People choose to take a particular "alternate" path, even if it is a detour around a mud pit. That path then becomes the new PCT.
I view the Pacific Crest Trail as really two trails. There is the traditional PCT and the contemporary trail. The traditional route would not include the Eagle Creek alternate nor would it include off shoots like the Oregon Skyline Trail. But, when large numbers of PCT hikers choose to follow these off routes, then these routes become the new (contemporary) PCT.
As an example, let's look at the Eagle Creek alternate trail. It is estimated that 95% of all PCT hikers take it. By taking it, one skips miles 2136 to 2155, 19 miles. But anyone who does not take it is really missing out. I hiked this trail today, both up and down and can only say that it was a high point of my whole PCT experience thus far.
If you are someone going for a PCT record, like Scott Williamson, you better be on the traditional PCT 100 percent. You know if you skip even a tiny bit, someone will question your record. For us mortal thru-hikers, I believe we should be able to pick and choose, up to a point and, as I said earlier, if most everyone chooses a particular alternate route then it becomes the defacto trail.
Planning a PCT thru hike? Make sure you leave the trail at 2136 and head down the canyon. The Eagle Creek trail follows this canyon and the trail is hewn in volcanic rock. It is very narrow at places (2 feet wide) and has vertical drop offs on one side. Metal cables are provided for the acrophobic.
Coming down, after about 5 miles, you will find some beautiful pools of water, then not more than a quarter mile further is Tunnel Falls. This is a very unique waterfall as there is a tunnel that you walk through to pass behind it. I was amazed at the beauty of this whole area.
The trail continues to wind through the narrow canyon and you pass other falls. After about 10 miles, you will reach Punch Bowl falls. There is a side trail that goes down to the falls. Take it. Even if you are in a hurry to get to Cascade Locks, take it!
Soon, you will be trucking along the bike path to the Locks.
I originally thought about hiking up the Eagle Creek trail then looping around on the PCT but why? I have no need to prove anything. Yeah, I missed 19 miles of PCT, ash and smoke and all. But today, I hiked the most wonderful "alternate" route.
Oregon is checked off ! I feel good about this statement. I feel I hiked the state. Tomorrow, I take on Washington.
Jack And Barb Take On The PCT
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