Location- Cascade Locks
Elevation- 79 ft
Distance Traveled Today- 28.4 miles
Distance Traveled Total- 2,144.5 miles
Weather/Temp- rain, rain, 40s 50s, 60s
Injuries- pruney fingers
Pain level- low
Days without shower- 3
Last night was rough, but could have been much, much worse. At around 1am, I awoke to a torrential downpour, and half my sleeping bag completely soaked. Water had pooled up in the bottom half of the flat spot that I was camped on, subsequently swamping the bottom half of my ground sheet, sleeping pad, sleeping bag, and all of my backpack. Surprisingly, I wasn’t as annoyed as I thought I’d be waking up to this situation. Looking back, I handled it exactly how I should have.
Before I did anything, I assessed the situation. My sleeping bag was what essentially was keeping me alive, so long as it stayed warm. It was wet, and so was I, but I wasn’t cold. Had I been freezing with a wet sleeping bag, I would have just packed up and hiked until morning, or civilization to stay warm. That wasn’t a necessity just yet; I simply needed to remedy my flooding issue. It could have been avoided all together if I’d had a bathtub ground sheet, but I honestly didn’t think I needed one.
I took off my dry layers and stuck them in their drysacks. Then put on my shoes and crawled out from under the tarp. I dragged the ground sheet with all my gear on it about a foot further out of the puddle, but still under the edge of the tarp. Then I gathered up a bunch of large rocks and tossed them beneath the tarp near the puddle before crawling back under. I pulled my sleeping pad out and shook it off, before lifting the second half of the ground sheet up to drain all the water back into the puddle. Before setting the ground sheet back down, I laid out all the rocks around the perimeter of where the edge of the sheet would go. This kept the edges of the ground sheet curled up in a bathtub like style, forcing the water to run under it, instead of over it. Since it’s waterproof, it can get all the water in the world underneath it, it won’t leech through. In reality, I should have done this when I first made camp, but I didn’t think it would rain as hard as it did. Another lesson learned the hard way, and a mistake that will never be repeated; blessings in disguise. It could have been much worse.
The situation was salvaged, and although my bottom half stayed a bit damp, I was still warm. I fell back to sleep and got an early start around 6:30am.
I wanted nothing more than to finish the day as quick as possible and be done with the weather. It was freezing, windy, and rainy in the morning, but I knew I was hitting town today, so I went ahead and threw on some extra layers. I didn’t care if they got wet and became useless, because I wouldn’t need them to keep me alive tonight.
Despite the deplorable weather, today ended up being one of my favorite days out here, if nothing but for the sheer awesomeness of the terrain and vegetation.
It was so green and alive with plant life and moss, that it was almost blinding. Such a contrast to what most of the trail had been so far; I was literally walking in a rainforest. My favorites were the ferns and moss that grew everywhere.
I ended up taking another official alternate trail called Eagle Creek Trail. It was easily some of the most beautiful hiking I’ve ever done; waterfalls and cliff ledges aplenty! The highlight being a tunnel that was blasted behind a gorgeous waterfall back in 1909, that was part of the trail; absolutely awe inspiring.
The most challenging aspect of the day’s hike was the trail itself, which seemed to mostly be made of basalt rock that felt like it was putting your feet through a meat grinder.
The rain held light but steady all day, only picking up heavy when I finished a 3 mile road walk to the Bridge of the Gods. On the far side of this bridge, across the Columbia River was Washington; the final chapter. It wasn’t as climactic as reaching the final state on the AT, but damn did it feel good to hit the official home stretch. The final 500 miles…
I managed to get a ride into Portland with some other hikers named A-game, and Undercover. Undercover’s mom had come up to meet him, so they offered me a ride into Portland, which is exactly where I need to be to meet my mystery guest tomorrow…