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Day 113 – July 25, 2022

Mile 2148.2 (Cascade Locks, OR/Bridge of the Gods) to 2168.3

20.1 trail miles | 19.7 tracked miles | 4,742 ft elevation gain | 86 F / 30 °C

I began my last day in Oregon with a hearty breakfast. Ideally, I would have left at the crack of dawn to beat the heat—temperatures were predicted to reach 100°F around noon—but the hotel’s breakfast service didn’t start until 7 am. And breakfast is the most important meal of the day.

At 7:45am, I checked out of my hotel and crossed the Bridge of the Gods, entering the state of Washington. There was hardly any car traffic at this early hour, but I could picture how walking on the shoulder-less roadway during peak hours might be terrifying. My primary concern was not dropping my phone while taking photos!

Reaching Washington feels like a significant achievement, and I couldn’t be more excited for the journey ahead. I took a moment to take obligatory photos in front of the Bridge of the Gods and Welcome to Washington signs.

While I’m familiar with most of the Pacific Crest Trail through Washington, I’ve never hiked the southernmost and northernmost segments, and thus I was oddly eager to tackle the major climb north of Cascades Lock.

As I mentioned yesterday, Cascades Locks, OR, marks the lowest point on the PCT. The trail descends 4,000 feet into Cascades Locks in Oregon, only to ascend back up on the Washington side.

As usual, climbing with a heavy pack is a mental game. The demanding, sweaty, and relentless ascent ultimately felt much easier than I expected because I was excited for the challenge and in great spirits. Besides, the path was mostly shaded, the altitude offered respite from the heat, and breathtaking wildflowers adorned the trail.

The lower stretch of the trail was densely overgrown, often requiring me to bushwhack my way through. One of my hip belt pockets snagged on a branch and a strap broke. I took this as a sign that the end is within sight—my gear only needs to survive another three weeks!

While most of the path was under tree cover, I traversed a few small clearings and burn areas, and enjoyed glimpses of Mt. St. Helens and Mt. Adams.

A minor highlight was the remnants of an old Northern Pacific railroad near mile 2158. The tracks were destroyed in a forest fire in 1929, which further strained the company’s already challenging financial situation. Some speculate that this incident may have caused Northern Pacific to default on a loan, exacerbating the economic turmoil and ultimately contributing to the Great Depression.

Remnants of an old Northern Pacific railroad

Shortly thereafter, the trail gradually flattened and eventually began descending. Along the way, I was treated to fleeting yet magnificent views of Mt. Hood and Mt. St. Helens.

I decided to settle at mile 2168.3 for the night, at an idyllic campsite with a stream. While I only hiked 20 miles, the next reliable water source is 10 miles further north, and I’m not planning on dry camping in Washington! After a hot and sweaty day, a backcountry bath was pure bliss.

The Big Picture

3D path
3D video

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