Day 117 (August 15): PCT Mile 2,147.6 – 2,157.1

Crossing the Bridge of the Gods

Beginning Elevation = 125 (Off PCT)
Ending Elevation = 2,500
Weather: Sunny, windy, high of 75°F

To start this post off, I feel I need to ask a few questions to the audience…phone a friend if you’re following me…

Some of you (the very few who look at my little daily elevation/weather section) may have noticed that the elevation of Cascade Locks, which I’ve noted as my beginning elevation (125 feet) is quite low. To me, it feels like the lowest I remember writing on here and thus, the lowest I’ve been on trail. My question is, how can it be that it’s that low of elevation when I’m not all that close to the ocean and the Columbia River is here flowing down all the way to it? Wouldn’t the water of the Columbia drop more than 125 feet over its pathway to the sea? Is the oceans water level actually at the elevation that we call ” sea level?”.

Ok, now that I we got that out of the way, I shall continue…

Last night wasn’t my most sound sleep due to a few loud late night talkers and some even louder trains. Even so, I was awake around 6:00am or so. I stayed in my tent for about an hour and then walked over to the Thirsty Coffee Bar. When I arrived there were two other hikers, but by the time I left it was full of them, including Snickers. I spent my time there charging my battery pack, enjoying a breakfast burrito and coffee, uploading some posts, and chatting with a few other folks. Coffee shop for the win once again!

My original plan for the day was to take the bus to Hood River, the next town upriver, and ship back the tent my father had lent me. Yesterday, I’d thought the lady at the Cascade Lock post office told me they couldn’t ship anything because their system was down, but when I checked it out today all was well. Needless to say, I sent it home and didn’t end up going to see Hood River. Would’ve been cool to see, but this new plan allowed me to focus on finishing my other tasks.

The post office was quite full of hiker packages and bear cans!

I spent some time in the park doing phone stuff and then made my way back to the tents to pack up. Snickers took off around 12:30pm I think. I was engaged in some phone communications and tasks, so didn’t get going until 2:00pm. Before leaving, I also ran into Monica and More Food! I chatted with them briefly, but there was a lot of distraction going on with them setting up their tents and me getting going. Still, very nice to see them again.

Prior to starting my hike I’d hoped to grab something quick to eat. I stopped at the Bridgeside Restaurant thinking it’d be fast. Nada. Took quite a while to get my food actually. At least I had a lovely view of the bridge though…

Finally, I started walking again around 2:45pm. The trail was not really a trail at this point. Instead, I followed the road, went through the car toll check point, and then began my walk across the Bridge of the Gods, passing from Oregon to Washington!

In the PCT thru-hiker world, this is a big moment of the journey. Not only is it the end of Oregon and the start of Washington, but there seems to be something more than that, a definite sense of accomplishment similar to that of reaching Kennedy Meadows. I think part of it is that both locations had dramatic scenes in the movie Wild that so many of us, even those out here who seem to have negative views about the film, are effected by. I was feeling it. Was being filled up by the moment!

Once across, I paused for a photo op of the more picturesque side of the bridge (no toll booth over here).

And then, I continued my walk through Washington. Turns out that Sumi is afraid of heights and so he stayed within the safe confines of my pack whilst journeying across the bridge. Thus, he posed for his first Washington photo where the trail continued after a short road walk…

I knew I was in for a rough climb. It was now about 3:30pm, I was full of food and feeling sluggish, and my phone was nearly dead so no tunes or podcasts to help motivate me up the mountain. I persevered.

The beginning of Washington didn’t seem to have the grandeur that I’d built up in my head. I went cruising along parallel with the road for a while, went by some houses, and then it went up through what looked like a logged off area. There were a few very nice spots though like a 50′ wall of moss covered rock that the trail turned just before, and a nice wooden bridge over a babbling Brook, and this view which were the only photos I took due to my low phone battery.

Around 7:00pm I reached a camp site and saw Snickers chatting it up with some folks. I’d hoped to get further, but sheesh o Pete was I was ready for it!

Our fellow hikers were a guy from New Zealand with the trail name of Papa Kiwi I think and a lady from Florida and her daughter. Neither of us did get their names despite chatting for a while with them.

Snickers did me a huge favor in going down to the stream to fill up water for us! It was apparently super steep and a long way down, but we needed it since it’d be about 13 miles to our next source starting out tomorrow. I owe him one for sure!

4 thoughts on “Day 117 (August 15): PCT Mile 2,147.6 – 2,157.1

  1. Luke Medema

    That is a very interesting question about the river. I have no idea, maybe Scotty-too-hottie the river expert will have some light to shed on that situation for us. Congrats on getting to Washington, you’re crushing it!

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Scott Prins

    Wahoo! Way to go Stephan.

    So the bridge of the gods is ~140 miles upstream of the ocean which means that the gradient of the Columbia River downstream of you is ~0.02%. This is pretty flat, but makes sense for the tail end of a large river like that – to put it in perspective, the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon has an average slope of 0.15% and the Mississippi River gets down to only 0.001%. I certainly had to do some research for my answer and i was indeed surprised to learn you were at such a low elevation.

    Peace be the journey my friend.


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