170802 – Wildfires

Day:  101
Date:  Wednesday, 02 August 2017
Start:  Camped by the trail at Mile 2112.1, 3622 ft
Finish:  Camped by the trail at Mile 2136.7, 3287 ft
Daily Miles:  24.6 PCT 
Total PCT Miles:  1596.4
Weather:  Hot, sunny and hazy
Accommodation:  Tent
     Breakfast:  Pop tarts
     Lunch:  Candy bars and peanuts
     Dinner:  Rehydrated lasagne with meat sauce.
Aches:  Nothing new
Highlight:  None really
Lowlight:  The day was marred by wildfires in two ways.

Fiŕstly, my preferred route (guide book recommended) into Cascade Locks would have been via the Eagle Creek and the famous Tunnel Falls (also 3.5 miles shorter), but there has been a wildfire in the valley for a month which has recently become worse and the trail is closed.  There was a ranger stationed at the trail junction to make sure hikers did not use the closed trail, and she also told me that Lake Wahtum, where I had planned to refill my water bottles, was also closed because it was being used as a water source by the water-bombing helicopters.  Fortunately there was a spring nearby and I refilled there.

Secondly, smoke from the wildfire I just missed back near Mt Jefferson, and from wildfires in British Columbia,  Canada, blew in overnight and views were obscured all day by the thick haze, and the air quality was noticeably poorer.  The wildfires, high temperatures and wind caused the Oregon Governor to declare a State of Emergency late today, but it shouldn’t have any impact on me.

Pictures:  Click here

Position:  Click here.
Map:  Click here for Google Map

I overslept a little and didn’t start walking until 6:45am after a very warm night.  There was already a haze in the air (see above) which made everything a little orange as the sun rose, and the views were obscured.

I was hoping for a relatively easy day, despite the forecast heat, and Oregon did not disappoint.   For most of the day, the trail followed a series of ridges northwards, some narrow and others broad, sometimes on top, but often just off the crest on one side or the other. It oscillated between 3500 ft and 4500 ft, but the climbs were mostly gentle, and apart from a few rocky sections, it was in the forest, which provided relief from the sun.  There was also an occasional cooling wind.

The trail circled picturesque Lake Wahtum in the early afternoon, but the peace was disturbed every few minutes by the helicopters visiting the Lake to refill with water to be dropped on the nearby Eagle Creek fire.  The haze and forest was so thick it was hard to get a good view of the lake anyway.

I made good time and at one point late in the afternoon toyed with the idea of hiking all of the way to Cascade Locks tonight, assuming I could get a room at the motel already booked for tomorrow night.  In the end, I decided that it would be after 8:00pm before I could get there, and I would be super tired, so I camped at my intended spot around 6:00pm on a very warm and smoky night.  I’m now about 7 miles from Cascade Locks, so should be able to get there in time for a latish breakfast, to which I’m already looking forward.  From my camp, I can hear the distant rumble of freeway traffic and the occasional train whistle from 3000 ft below me in the gorge.

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