Day 115 mile 2109.5 – 2135.7
Elevation: ascent 5,296 ft, descent 4,409 ft
The days are definitely getting shorter which means the sunrises are occurring later in the mornings. Having our camp set up in a dense forest, only adds to the darkness. This means we are using headlamps to get ready as we breakdown camp. Muddy Fork provided a lot of white noise so we didn’t have to be extra quiet as we got ready for the day, not wanting to wake the section hiker camping near us. When leaving camp we had a glimpse of some great colors through the trees.
The first three miles were uphill, and the grade was steep. The air was cool but both Double Down and I were sweating like it was 90 degrees out. After climbing the almost 2,000 feet is when our day started to get interesting. We came across some open vistas looking towards Mt Hood but with the clouds rolling in we couldn’t see much of the mountain. The clouds made it look like smoke rising from the forest below.
Double Down spotted a Snowshoe Hare. From the looks of it this rabbit has been around too many hikers who are willing to give it free handouts. I got a great picture of Double Down doing her best to have a conversation with the rabbit.
We then started to see a lot more new plants of Oregon that we had not seen yet. This included the Devil’s Club, which you definitely don’t want to walk though, due to its thorns. We also started to see a wide variety of fungi. Some were growing on trees while others sprouted from the ground.
We then came across a ton of berry producing plants. One was a Salmon Berry which neither of us have ever seen. It looked pretty but didn’t have much taste. This is in contrast to the handfuls of Black Huckleberries and Blueberries that we stopped to pick. The tasty berries definitely slowed the pace down a bit.
One of the most interesting things we came across was a yellow mold that was growing on the ground in several places along the trail today. This yellow mold is called Dog Vomit Slime Mold. With a name like that you don’t want to get too close.
The morning continued to be mostly overcast and we knew there was about a 50% chance of rain today but were hopeful it would stay dry. We ran into Sweet Roll and Stop Sign again. They were telling us how they threw away their tent because a pole broke and the doors were no longer zipping. They are hoping to get a new tent in their next town. So needless to say they looked a bit concerned when we told them rain might hit today. The rest of the morning was spent hiking through dense forests that were shrouded in clouds. We did come across a banana slug and a Spotted Orbweaver spider, which had spun a huge web right above the trail. Glad I saw that before walking through it and having it attached to me.
Right when we got to the spot where we were talking about having lunch the skies started to release rain. It was light at first but it was enough that the duck packs went on and the rain jackets followed. With the moderate amount of overgrowth along the trail that caught a lot of the rain our legs ended up getting soaked. There was no way to avoid this.
As the afternoon progressed the rain intensified and the views we thought we would have today never materialize. Due to a fire in 2017 the Eagle Creek Alternative trail was still closed. This meant we were not going to be able see Tunnel Falls. Prior to starting this adventure this was one of the top things both Double Down and I were excited to see. We had thought about trying the trail but we heard it was really overgrown and that hikers will get a $300 fine. So I guess we will have to make a special trip up here to check it out in the future. With all of the overgrowth and continued rain we decided to take a dirt road down to Wahtum Lake. The walk down the road was nice as we could walk side by side without our legs being soaked even more. Once at the lake we had 6 very steep flights of stairs to take to get to the waters edge. This didn’t really help out my shin very much. It had been feeling better the past two days but the combo of fatigue and steep stairs kind of set it off. Not horrible but didn’t feel great.
Once at the lake, Double Down went to get the water we needed to dry camp again. While collecting water Double Down saw two huge crawfish, but they scooted off before she could get a picture. We had done 21 miles to this point and could stop here but I felt getting a little closer to Cascade Locks to start resting was a good idea. So we loaded up our packs and got back on the trail hoping to get in another 5 miles. The rain had let up and we were hoping it would stay that way. As we left the lake we came across a Rough-skinned Newt. Neither of us had seen a newt before!
After leaving the lake we entered a pretty large burn area from that 2017 fire. It’s definitely not the most relaxing hike when you walk through an area of dead trees while the wind is blowing. Right before we got to our camp spot we entered healthy forest again, otherwise it would have meant an additional mile to the next tent site. Of course as we started to set up our tent, the rain which had stopped, picked up again. So we now had a mad dash to get everything up and get ourselves into the tent before we got our sleep clothes wet.
Now that we were in our dry tent it was time to get warm. We made a hot coffee and then cooked up our dinner in the tent’s vestibule. Most of our gear is wet from the 5+ hours of rain so we are hoping it doesn’t equate into rain inside our tent tonight.
My shin is holding up fairly well and I’m confident that with some time off I won’t have any concerns about not making it to Canada. Thanks for following our blog!! Link