Camping: Eagle Creek Trail Alternate mile 5.03 off PCT mile 2138.06
Making the decision to spend the night alone was good for the soul. I woke up feeling refreshed and ready to hike. Today was a big day of hiking, but now that my next destination is the Washington border and a few days in Portland I’m capable of big things. Motivated by home, but just for a taste, just enough to get things done and remind me of what I’m coming back to when I finish this trail. I can’t believe I’m at the point where the end is in sight, just barely over 500 miles to go. That’s it. We’ve come so far and I’m really starting to feel at the top of my game, like a true hiker.
This is all quite familiar terrain for me and it feels pretty right to be hiking through here. I keep trying to see it through new eyes like all of my friends who have never been here before, and it fills me with great joy. This is one of the most beautiful places in the world as far as I’m concerned, and today we get to start hiking through Eagle Creek. Eagle Creek has been my sanctuary away from Portland since I moved here, a hike I do at least twice a year. This time I get to go a bit deeper, and it is the last taste of Oregon so I know I will go out on a sweet note.
I hiked hard and enjoyed every moment finding a random campsite by the side of a forest road with a picnic table. I sat at the table appreciating the comfort, and broke out second breakfast. Soon after, Dimples came up and joined me at my break spot. We ended up hiking with each other until lunch, which was great because I’ve never spent time with her before. Turns out we briefly met early on in the desert, but she went by Birdie back then. Now, we are here in Oregon, and had a fantastic time chatting our way up the trail. At lunch, we found a nice clearing on top of a ridge and broke out our goodies. I somehow saved a fancy albacore curry pack and wrapped it in a flour tortilla. It is by far the best meal I have eaten on trail, one I only allow myself on rare occasions lest I become sick of it (and it isn’t dehydrated, so adds weight). That may not be possible but I’m not leaving it to chance. The wind picked up as soon as we sat and we both shivered our way through our meal. It is certainly turning to fall in the Pacific Northwest and it sure won’t be getting any warmer. I’m a little nervous about the cold, but at this point it isn’t enough to stop me from completing my goal.
Dimples ran off as I was discovering a cell phone signal, and I sat communicating with the outside world for a few minutes. I had to coordinate rides, places to stay, meals, etc … and check the weather. The cold breezes made me a little bit nervous as they felt like they’d be bringing rain along with them at some point. The weather forecast only spoke of sunshine so I tried to trust it, but knowing the area, I had my doubts. We are not known for trustworthy weather reports in this area of the country! I put away my phone and began walking along, excited to come up on Eagle Creek. The air held quite a chill and had me hiking in my down jacket as I walked along an exposed ridge; I hiked faster to get my body temperature up. I did a great job of that, as even going downhill I began to feel my body warm up. I never feel warm when I’m going downhill so I must have been tying on the miles this afternoon. My face felt hot, and I felt great.
I came upon the Eagle Creek alternate to find a spring at the top of the trail. I was happy to skip a timely session of filtering water and drank up while I had the chance. The trail down to Eagle Creek was extremely steep, and that is an under-exaggeration. It felt like walking directly down a vertical grade which was basically the case; I had to rely pretty heavily on my trekking poles. It was a full body workout, and my body temperature quickly rose. It felt wonderful. There is something about hiking here that I truly thrive on! When I made it to the bottom of the steep connector trail, I slid in the loose dirt and scraped my leg as I fell right down. It’s only the third time I’ve fallen all summer, and I laughed appropriately as I picked myself right back up. Now the trail became more level and I began to hike like I’ve never hiked before. I must’ve been going about 4mph, a full mile an hour faster than my usual fast pace. I passed several other backpackers, going fast and feeling great. Something inside of me wanted to slow down and enjoy my surroundings, yet I was taken over by the high I was getting from hiking so fast.
Walking through the lush green forest felt so refreshing and I felt lighter than air. It helps that my pack is as light as it gets at the moment; with the end of the state approaching as do my supplies dwindle. I saw my friends Karaoke, Doc, Dimples and SnakeCharmer setting up camp by the river and I decided to join them tonight. It’s a beautiful night in one of my favorite places and I loved the idea of sharing this with other hikers. It also meant that I’d get to see more of this hike with friends tomorrow and there are some of the best parts to come! We all sat around the fire ring (sans fire) and ate dinner together, sharing snacks that we have left after the trek. It’s a great sense of camaraderie and I look forward to hiking with this group tomorrow. For now I’m off to dreamland. Tomorrow I will be in Portland, and that about blows my mind!