PCT miles 2129 to 2155.1 – Forest Service Work Center in Parkdale to Bridge of the Gods in Cascade Locks – Total PCT miles 2155.1
It seemed liked we’d just went to sleep when it was time to get up at 5:30. But our friends were also starting to stir, signs that we’d all committed to start walking by 6:14 am. (Goodness has something against multiples of 5.)
Our feet hit the road and we walked into Parkdale, stopping at the local cafe for cups of coffee and cocoa to go. We were an interesting sight to the locals who were sitting around the table on this sleepy-seeming Labor Day morning. We walked through the town and out to Dee Highway passing pear orchard after pear orchard. The road was quiet except for the occasional caravan of federal vehicles heading up to the Dollar Lake fire; for the fire crews it would be anything but a sleepy holiday.
The seven of us had formed a pack. Hiking together, playing games and telling riddles. It made these miles of road walking that much more bearable and actually pretty darn fun (if you think 20+ miles of road walking on 90-degree day is fun). We grazed on late season thimble berries. Appreciated a camper who stopped to give frozen bottles of water. And finally made it to Rainy Lake and the network of trails in the Mark Hatfield Wilderness that lead to Cascade Locks.
After a break and a dip in Rainy Lake, we were off. The Gorge trails felt familiar with their understory of beargrass, Oregon grape, vanilla leaf, inside-out flowers, sword ferns and canopy of Douglas-fir and western hemlock. We descended the steep, steep, steep Nick Eaton Trail and made it to the Herman Creek Trail Head. From there we had 2 more miles of road walking to make it to Cascade Locks. We made it to sidewalks just as dusk was fading and found sweet ripe blackberries. Treats of summer, gifts to savor. And soon we near the lights of town and the ice cream shop where we met a gang of PCTers. We were most excited to see Garfunkel in the group. He looked great and well rested after taking a few days off to wait for Mr. Fox and Rocklocks. Alas, our plan to head into Washington with them wasn’t going to work after the push we’d just made. Maybe we could catch them as we hiked north. Maybe.
Gabriel and I parted ways with our friends and walked the last few blocks to the Char Burger next to the Bridge of the Gods. Gabriel’s parents, Boni and Dave, were waiting for us, oh so patiently. So nice to be with family! They whisked us off to our much anticipated meal at Edgefield McMenamins for beer milkshakes and cajunized tater tots. We’d completed our hike to Oregon on the day we thought we would, though not the way we thought we would. Plans are one thing. The journey another.
Thank you Oregon for a beautiful two weeks. For great friends. For being home.