Date: Wednesday, 09 August 2017
Start: Where the PCT crosses NF Road 23 at Mile 2226.4, 3849 ft
Finish: Camped by Lava Spring at Mile 2247.0, 4522 ft
Daily Miles: 20.6 PCT
Total PCT Miles: 1706.7
Weather: Very warm, sunny and hazy
Breakfast: Fruit, waffle with syrup, bagel & cream cheese
Lunch: Candy bars and peanuts
Dinner: Mexican rice and tuna
Aches: Trying to manage the blister site on the back of my left heel with limited success.
Highlight: Much of the day was spent hiking along the shoulder of Mt Adams at around 6000 ft. The terrain was park-like with wildflower-covered meadows, interesting volcanic rock formations, and babbling streams, all backgrounded by the massive snow-covered Mt Adams and one of its spectacular glaciers.
Lowlight: Fording the glacier-fed Adams River (?) was no fun. It was grey with silt meaning there was no way to judge the depth, and flowing very fast. Rather than spend time hunting upstream for somewhere to cross, I decided to replace my boots with my camp shoes and wade across using my trekking poles to test depth and provide stability. Half-way across, with my feet literally freezing, I decided it would be safer to go upstream a little which I did while still in the water, and then crossed in a quieter part of the rapids. It was all accomplished safely, but when I got out my frozen feet were incredibly painful as I dried them off and tried to defrost them.
Pictures: Click here
As usual, it was hard to leave the luxury of my motel, but after a filling continental breakfast I was ready and waiting outside when trail angel, Doug, arrived to pick me up at 8:00am and take me back to the trailhead. We made a quick stop at the town store to check if there were any other hikers needing a lift (no) and I took the opportunity to buy some blister pads which I later found to be pitifully small.
We got to the trailhead soon after 8:30am, and I began hiking northwards through the quiet and dark forest on what was a beautiful morning apart from the persisting smoke haze. The towering Mt Adams was barely visible at times, but became much clearer as the trail climbed gradually up onto its shoulder. The distant views may have been marred, but the local scenery was idyllic (see above). Apart from some discomfort from the blister site on my left heel it was very enjoyable hiking and I took too many photos.
One interesting thing throughout the day was the varying colour of the water in the streams flowing down the mountain. There might be a crystal clear one, then 100 metres later, a milky one, and even late in the day a brown muddy one. The ford across one of the milky ones (see above) was challenging, and cost me about 30 minutes, but the others were easy, or bridged.
The last few hours involved a slow descent through the forest and I found a campsite around 7:00pm next to the crystal clear Lava Spring which literally flows out the bottom of a massive old lava flow about 100 ft high. There are a number of other campers here and I’ve seen a lot of hikers during the day, though none going my way.