Day 108 – July 20, 2022
Mile 1997.1 (Big Lake Youth Camp/Santiam Wagon Road) to 2001.0 (Santiam Pass Trailhead)
3.9 trail miles | 3.9 tracked miles | 292 ft elevation gain | 66.2 F / 19 °C
This morning, I walked just four puny little miles to the PCT trailhead at Santiam Pass, the northernmost exit point before the Lionshead fire closure.
Along the trail, I witnessed an incredible explosion of beargrass—a beautiful sight to behold.
But the highlight of the day was reaching mile marker 2,000!
This accomplishment feels a bit surreal, and I’m still processing my emotions. Time seems to bend incredibly in my mind. It feels like just yesterday I passed mile 1,000, while mile one already feels like ancient history.
I’m incredibly grateful that I’ve made it this far without any injuries. Not everyone has been so lucky. I believe I’ve lost over 20 pounds, which is par for the course, but I’m otherwise in fantastic shape and great spirits.
With the fire closure ahead, I now have only approximately 500 miles to go until I reach the PCT’s terminus at the Canadian border.
The fire closure, which requires hikers to skip 150 miles, presents an interesting logistical challenge. Hitchhiking is always an option, but it’s time-consuming and unreliable. After some research, I found a bus company that operates a route between Sisters and Portland. While their route goes through Santiam Pass, they don’t typically stop there. I decided to reach out and ask if they’d be willing to make an unscheduled stop at the trailhead to pick me up. They promptly agreed—it’s amazing what you can get in life just by asking!
Returning to the trail from Portland will be even easier, thanks to public transit links between Portland and Timberline Lodge, just north of the fire closure.
I was a bit apprehensive about being forgotten, but my VIP pickup happened right on schedule, and I was promptly on my way to the City of Roses.
Aside from food, the ability to shower was my main motivation for the short detour by Big Lake Youth Camp yesterday. I felt that my fellow passengers would appreciate the courtesy 🙂
The ride to Portland was uneventful, but it felt odd to see signs to Seattle on the freeway. After spending 2,000 miles in the wilderness, being back in the Pacific Northwest, so close to home, was an awkward feeling.
As I got off the bus outside Portland Union Station, it occurred to me that I could have purchased a round-trip train ticket to Seattle and stayed home for a couple of days at a fraction of the cost of a hotel in Portland. But that just wouldn’t feel right, and besides, Portland is lovely at this time of the year.
I walked to my hotel, the Residence Inn Portland Downtown, situated a stone’s throw away from the train station. The elegant lobby contrasted sharply with the modest accommodations that I’ve stayed at since the beginning of my journey.
I checked into a spacious suite with a full kitchen—a special treat to celebrate 2,000 miles on the trail, and also a convenient option to cook and eat lots of fruit and vegetables in an effort to undo the damage of last month’s diet, which was heavy on Knorr’s rice sides.
Returning to civilization felt nice and surprisingly natural, though I couldn’t shake off this odd feeling of living parallel lives.
My first priority after dropping off my pack and showering was to get some Japanese food. I found a really great Japanese-Korean fusion restaurant in the neighborhood. I would return anytime just for the bibimbap, though perhaps my empty stomach made it taste extra delicious!
Then, I did laundry, went shopping, and prepared resupply boxes for the upcoming hike through Washington. I also bought enough food to cook for an army (of one) for the next 36 hours.
By staying in the Pearl District, I was able to walk as little as possible: the grocery store, FedEx, the post office, and REI are all within a 5-block radius. It’s amazing.
Then, I finally put my feet up and relaxed in the comfort of my suite!
After enjoying a few snacks, I felt that it was time for dinner, and proceeded to cook a five-course feast. The thought of cooking has never been so appealing in my life. I’ve literally been dreaming and making up recipes while hiking.
If I might pat myself on the back—my dinner was delicious.
Tomorrow I will take a zero in Portland, prior to returning to the trail in two days.