Day 111 – July 23, 2022
Mile 2107.8 to 2131.6 (Wahtum Lake Campground)
23.8 trail miles | 23.9 tracked miles | 4,043 ft elevation gain | 71.6 F / 22 °C
I approached today’s stretch with somewhat low expectations, knowing that the highlights of Oregon are now behind me. Central Oregon was glorious, and my excitement from seeing Mt. Hood for the first time yesterday was hard to top. Today was likely going to be tame in comparison.
To spice things up, I decided to follow the Ramona Falls alternate, a short spur trail between PCT miles 2108 through 2110, which happens to be the old Pacific Crest Trail. The new official PCT route has been redirected away from the falls to make it more suitable for stock, but at the expense of views.
The Ramona Falls are interesting from a geological standpoint as they cascade over a series of basalt columns, but I must admit that I wasn’t overly impressed. Iceland has spoiled me forever!
Upon rejoining the PCT and crossing Muddy Forks, the trail promptly started to climb, gaining over 1,500 feet of elevation across 2.4 miles—an unmistakable sign that I’m approaching Washington.
The ascent was shaded and didn’t offer much in terms of noteworthy views, except for the magnificent sight of Mt. Hood near the top.
Then, I descended back into the “green tunnel”—the defining feature of Oregon—for the remainder of the day.
Just as I was starting to think that this section of the trail was exceptionally smooth, blowdowns appeared. A few were difficult to cross and required me to crawl under.
In the late afternoon, I caught sight of the unmistakable profiles of Mt. St. Helens and Mt. Adams in the distance—auspicious sights that reaffirm that I’ll be entering Washington tomorrow!
My plan for the evening was to spend my final night in Oregon near the picturesque Wahtum Lake, only a few miles from the Washington border as the crow flies.
I probably should have studied the map more carefully. There’s a road leading to the Wahtum Lake area, and on a Saturday evening, the lakeside was bustling with car campers.
I mean no disrespect to car campers, but in my experience they bring the kitchen sink; they use space inefficiently, and often not being particularly welcoming to hikers—sometimes even coming across as territorial or aggressive. Plus, they frequently play music late into the night. In contrast, thru-hikers can play tent jigsaw to fit in the tiniest space, and usually want to sleep at 8pm. It’s a bit of a culture clash.
I scanned the lakeside campsite and quickly realized that luck wouldn’t be on my side. I spotted a USFS developed campground further uphill, near the parking lot, and I rushed up there in hopes of finding an available spot.
Needless to say, the upper campground was also fully occupied, but considering that the next water source was nearly 10 miles ahead, I was determined to stay there. I pitched my tent at the edge of the parking lot, near the smelly pit toilet. My last night in Oregon—in the lap of luxury! I was half expecting a ranger to come by and kick me out for camping in a non-designated area, but no authorities were seen or harmed.