Hiking the Pacific Crest Trail
Editor’s Note: Serena Becker and Jeramy Vallianos are avid hikers who work for Walk for Wildlands, a company that raises awareness for preserving the environment. Serena and Jeramy have also participated in a program that educated troubled teens in the wilderness of Scio, Silver Falls State Park etc. Read below to hear about their hiking experience on the Pacific Crest Trail:
Our first stop out of Ashland was one of the most incredible places in the world, I believe. Crater Lake. Massive, peaceful and breath-taking. We were able to spend a day walking along part of the rim of the lake and spent the night on a bluff overlooking it. In the morning we woke as the sun was rising. One of the most beautiful sunrises I have ever seen. The clouds quickly moved in though and the rest of the day was spent getting glimpses of the lake through the clouds as we stood in the frigid wind.
The wind rippling across the water combined with the clouds and sunlight trickling through created a surreal picture. It was hard to leave that place but the cold wind kept us moving. We hiked on towards Mt.Thielsen, tall, rocky and pointed. We decided against climbing it as it was covered in clouds and probably about 30 degrees on top.
As we approached Central Oregon I began to think back to my childhood spent at Waldo Lake in the summers and Odell Lake in the winters. The PCT hits the south shore of Odell lake and we spent and evening at Shelter Cove Resort. The next day we hiked up to Willamette Pass were Jeramy had been hoping to get some pizza for lunch at the ski lodge. Unfortunately they weren’t serving food that day and we had to resign ourselves to eating the same old tortilla and cheese wraps for lunch.
The PCT does not pass directly by Waldo lake so I was unable to go swimming at one of most beautiful lakes in Oregon. However it does pass by a myriad of smaller lakes just east of Waldo that I had never seen before, the three Rosary lakes, Bobby Lake and others that I can’t remember the names of. Our hike between Odell lake and Santiam Pass (Highway 20) also took us past the Three Sisters. WOW! I had never hiked near those mountains before, only seen them from a distance. What gorgeous mountains. South Sister with its red rocks we were able to catch the best views of. It turned out to be quite cold and stormy as we hiked passed the Sisters, but still absolutely amazing. We saw a rather large coyote carrying what appeared to be a rabbit in it’s mouth, a huge buck running across a meadow and a grey horned owl.
Luckily we made it down off the Sisters before the worst of the storm hit. As we descended toward McKenzie Pass, sleet and small snow flakes began to come down. We stopped by the Dee Wright Observatory and checked out the few mountains that weren’t immersed in clouds than pressed on through the lava fields and passed Mt. Washington. We were on a mission to meet my mom at Santiam Pass that evening. The cold aided us in getting there, as it was too chilly to stop for long. Just long enough to stop at the 2000 mile marker and celebrate! I told her we would be there at 7pm and we rolled in at 7:06 pm. It was such a blessing to see her there walking out on the trail to meet us. We went into Bend for the night, got warm, ate some good food and got cleaned up. As seems to happen often in town we ended up staying longer than expected. We visited with some friends who lived there and Tuesday evening (Sept. 2nd.) got back on the trail.
This last stretch in Oregon we hiked passed Three Fingered Jack, Mt.Jefferson and Mt. Hood. All three mountains that I have also seen from a distance but never up close. Jefferson still had quite a bit of snow on it and we hiked over snow banks for the first times since we left the Sierra’s way down in California. I imagine there will be more of that to come in Washington as it was such a big snow year. Unfortunately when the snow sticks around so too do the mosquito’s. And there were a surprising amount of them for the Cascades in late August.
Our hike between Jefferson and Hood was relaxing and warm. The sun had decided to show her face again and we’re hoping to have a few more of these days as we finish this amazing journey though Washington. We stopped at Timberline Lodge on Mt. Hood. You may remember the outside of the lodge from the movie “The Shining”. The inside is even more incredible, built some time in the thirties and still looking very much the same. Our good friends Jody and Eli met us up there, brought our food box and hiked out with us for a night, we had a huge feast. It’s always wonderful to have friends join us out here.
From there we hiked around Mt. Hood than began our decent to the Columbia River gorge. Down we went walking along the ridge with the wind whipping by as the sun set. It was a warmish wind but it was strong and camping was minimal and not too appealing with tall trees swaying above us. So we walked later than usual until we found a semi flat spot out of the wind to sleep.
The next morning we hiked into the gorge and took a detour from the PCT, down the Eagle Creek Trail. One of the most astounding trail in the gorge. Countless enormous water falls, some over 100 ft. tall splashing down into huge clear blue pools below. The trail itself in unbelievable. It was literally blasted into the side of a vertical cliff so at times you are walking next to a ledge that drops off 100 or more feet into the water. They have installed a cable to hold onto as you walk the most dangerous part. And the tunnel blasted through the rock behind a waterfall! Amazing. If you ever have the chance, check it out. And with that to finish up Oregon we hiked into the small town of Cascade Locks, where the Bridge of the Gods spans the Columbia River. Soon we will walk over that bridge and begin the home stretch of our hike: Washington. Only 508 miles to go.
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