Day 123 – Return to Civilization

We both slept well last night and we were greeted with smokey skies again. The visibility was less that a quarter mile. We did some research online and there were lots of reports from other hikers that most of Oregon and Northern California has really poor air quality due to the huge fires that were still burning. We made the tough decision to leave Oregon and Northern California for another year. Hiking in the smoke is not healthy and it’s really not very fun. We packed up and headed to the road to hitch into Hood River and get a rental car. From there we plan on going to Southern California to pick up our truck and start our next adventure of finding a new town to call home.

When we started out on this journey, we expected it to be about being in nature and the breathtaking views.  While the views have been amazing, we were overwhelmed with the people we’ve met from hikers to trail angels.  The kindness extended to us in the trail towns. People along the way have restored our faith in human kindness.

Thank you all for following our adventure over the last four months. We are so blessed to have had the opportunity to hike over 1,500 miles of wilderness this year. Thank you to all the trail angels, fellow hikers, friends and family that have helped us in so many ways. We will be forever changed by this experience and hope to bring this new perspective with us as we return to civilization.

Day 122 – Zero in Trout Lake

We got up and quickly made our way to the cafe down the road. As we left the general store we were greeted with smokey air and low visibility. We walked the half mile to the Cafe and found seats inside with a lot of locals that were hanging out there. We ordered breakfast burritos and hung out for at least an hour talking with the locals about their town and listened to their complaints about the forest service and how they were managing the fires in the area. It was interesting hearing their perspectives on the area.

After breakfast we headed back to the General Store and discovered they did not have any available rooms for the night so we made our way to a local hotel a mile down the road. We made the walk and got checked in. The room was really nice and we planned on doing very little today. We needed drinks so I used the hotels loaner bike and headed to the store to get some drinks. The air was really smokey and it didn’t make the bike ride very enjoyable.

When I got back to our room I got lots of calls from friends and family wishing me a happy birthday. It was nice talking to everyone and getting caught up.

For dinner we decided to go to an old historic home that was now a restaurant. Monday night was Mexican food night and it sounded great. We made the smokey walk and the place did not disappoint. The  building was an old farm house and the food was really good. There was a good mix of hikers and locals there. After dinner we walked back to our room and relaxed for the rest of the day. 

Day 121 – Lava Spring 2249.5 to Trout Lake 2228.9

We are both excited to get to town so we got up at 5:30 and were hiking by 6:30. We were by ourselves most of the morning hiking on the easy flat trail through the green tunnel of trees. We stopped at 11:30 and had a lunch of tortillas and peanut butter. 

We continued on and ran into lots of NoBo hikers who had just left Trail Days. Trail Days was a 3 day fair in Cascade Locks celebrating the PCT. We decided to skip it as it would have cost us a week of trail time. After talking with the hikers that went it sounds like we didn’t miss much.

The majority of the NoBo hikers we talked with were really upset about the trail closure at the Canadian Border. Some of them said they would walk around the closure regardless of the fire or if the trail was closed. Most of them are two weeks from the border so hopefully the trail will be open or they will set up a detour to get everyone there safely. 

We finally made it to the road and were greeted with Trail Magic! There was a group of guys that hiked the trail 2 years ago and they were nice enough to share with us hot dogs and cold sodas. We hung out with them for about an hour and were lucky enough to get a ride to town from two of them that were headed home.

They dropped us off at the general store in the town of Trout Lake and we were able to get a room for the night there. We cleaned our clothes, took baths and ate lots of food. We were both exhausted and decided to stay here tomorrow and let our tired sore feet get a break before heading back out on the trail.

Day 120- Cispus River 2272.9 to Lava Spring 2249.5

We work up and the first thing I did was poke my head out of the tent and we were happy to see no smoke today! Today is Kimberly’s birthday so I wished her a Happy Birthday and we had our breakfast of granola mixed with protein powder. We have 43 miles to town so we decided to hike 23 miles today and 20 tomorrow. 

We started our day by hiking up to Cispus Pass and the views were breathtaking. It is so nice to have clear skies! I hiked a little ahead of Kimberly today and asked every northbound hiker to tell her Happy Birthday! I think there must have been at least 30 hikers and it was fun hearing them wish her a Happy Birthday. We were hoping to get cell reception today and at every ridge we tried our cell phones but had no luck. 

After Cispus Pass the views ended for awhile and we were back in the green tunnel for most of the day. The trees were incredible and provided us with shade as the morning turned into afternoon. As we got close to camp we could see Mount Adams and came upon a few lava fields. At camp there was a spring that flowed directly from the lava field and the water was ice cold. 

We rinsed our shirts out and set up camp for the night. We were joined by a hiker from Washington DC who was hiking NoBo. She had previously hiked the AT and her trail name was Hard Core. We enjoyed talking with her and learned she was originally from Taiwan and a friend of hers applied for the permits but was unable to get a visa so she decided to hike it by herself. She had quite the sense of humor and we enjoyed talking with her. She was doing 25-30 mile days and was close to finishing he trail. She also shared with us that there was another fire in Washington and the last 100 miles of trail before the Northern Terminus were closed. What a crazy Fire year this has been. We talked till about 8 pm and we all called it a night.

Day 119- Lost Lake to Cispus River 2272.9

We woke up at Lost Lake this am and the smoke was gone. The wind must have changed direction last night. This place looked like a different place without the brown smokey haze. The sky was blue and we could see across the valley.

We got moving at about 6:30 determined to get through the trail closure and back to the PCT. The trail was tough but the clear views and blue skies gave us the boost we needed. As we climbed a ridge and came around a bend we got a first class view of Mount Rainier. A short distance later we rejoined the PCT.

We joined the PCT just before a section called the Knifes Edge . It was a 2 mile section of the trail that followed the top of a ridge. Both sides of the trail were sheer cliffs and the views were as good as it gets. Off in the distance we could see the Miriam Fire burning and the smoke being blown away from us. The trail was sketchy here and had lots of loose rock and steep inclines and declines and we took our time as we took in the views.

The trail dropped down the next ridge and became decent again. A few miles down the trail we got a great view of Mount Adams as it towered above us covered in snow. We made our way towards Cispus Pass and found a nice little campsite with amazing views of the ridges around us. As we set up camp we could not believe our luck. What a perfect day to have clear skies.