Days 96-97 – big huckleberry mountain to trout lake
July 25-26 | NOBO Miles 2192-2229.4
A beautiful sunrise over Mt. Adams greeted me in the morning, but so did some 6AM chatting coming from two girls who camped close to me last night. I am becoming a weary and crotchety trail grandma lone wolf. Done with that, I packed up and was out by 6:30, feeling in the mood for a big mile day. Here is a photo I took from my tent because the horse flies were not letting me have a moment.
I stopped for breakfast 4 miles in after meeting a pair of cool sisters going SOBO at a piped spring. They told me they had been looking forward to it all morning. With my fresh water I brewed some strong coffee mixed with a Swiss miss packet (grabbed from the airport lounge the other day) and enjoyed it with a Complete Cookie. Power combo.
I was blessed this morning with miles on miles of flat, tree-lined cruiser trail that kept things cool for a while. The smell of the forest was intoxicating–like a scent that Old Spice would buy and bottle and make millions. It smelled like Irish Spring Soap mixed with pine and dust.
I sped through miles, feeling great and energized entering the Indian Heaven Wilderness boundary. The trail started to climb past little lakes and through Jurassic Park-like jungle foliage until it came up on a ridge lined with wall-to-wall huckleberry bushes and overlooking Mt. Hood in the distance. My pace slowed to a crawl as I got my harvest in.
Mosquitoes started appearing around noon–good incentive to move quickly. Lunch was short and afternoon breaks sparse as I kept moving to avoid their bloodthirst. The heat built to a crescendo around 4 as I made my way down a rather exposed portion of trail. Next to a dirt road, I found a tiny flat spot shaded by a single baby pine tree and there I collapsed on the ground, staring into space until my brain had a few moments to cool off.
The remaining miles of the day took me to a sweet window in the trees with a view of Mt. Adams, which gets closer by the day.
I then wove through some more shady jungle, even passing a woman peeing right next to a water source. Come on man, not cool.
Beat and a tad delirious as I approached my 13th hour of hiking, I cut bait just .5 miles short of a 30 miler.
I lazily picked a slanted campsite as I was too tired to go on. This would only serve to exacerbate my tiredness in the night as I slid consistently down my pad on the right side. Not even my balled-up raincoat underneath the pad could level my mattress. Coupled with that discomfort I heard some loud thumping and branches breaking very close nearby–an animal I prayed was a deer (I talked to a local at lunch today who suspected it was a Sasquatch).
After tossing and turning into the wee hours and laying listless for several more after the sun came up, I decided to leave around 8. I only had 8 miles to go to make the 11:30 shuttle to Trout Lake.
And make the shuttle I did. I sat shotgun and chatted with a couple of teachers from Oregon hiking the Washington section who were also big into biking. Somehow in this whole 30 minute span I didn’t even get their names…
My next town task was food. I grabbed a seat at the Station Cafe (which is also a gas station and auto body) and waited patiently as the two waitresses scrambled to serve a horde of hikers and weekenders alike. An hour later I got my garden burger with onion rings and a huckleberry shake–I’d say it was worth the wait. Oh and I also nabbed a huckleberry roll to go, which honestly put my cinnamon rolls to shame. I have much to learn in the way of the huckleberry.
The next order of business was finding a place to stay the night… which proved much trickier than I’d anticipated. All the lodging in town was booked up. My calls were fruitless. Until I got a call back from one lady, Steph, whose booked rental cabin was unavailable, but hearing that I was alone, she offered me a room in her own house. I was stoked and so grateful. I chilled in the yard of the General store and worked my way through a pint of Tillamook ice cream (Stumptown cold brew coffee flavor, naturally) before she was able to pick me up at 5:30.
We then drove to her home, which is a super cool ranch with a jaw-dropping view of Mt. Adams. Turns out she was born in Kent, CT and part of the reason she called me back was that she saw my CT area code! She’s also a badass mom, ultrarunner, and farmer, and she might just be my new role model. The Lord works in mysterious ways out here in Trout Lake.
She showed me to her son’s room and introduced me to the shower and washer/dryer before setting off for a friend’s birthday party. I amused myself for a long time checking out his library and shelves. Dude has good taste:
On display is a collection of vials of sand from all the beaches he’s been to, as well as rows on rows of books on organic farming, foraging, cheesemaking, fermenting, and wilderness medicine. And he’s working on a tiny house in the garage. Cool guy!
After my chores were done I promptly passed out and didn’t get out of bed the next morning until 8. Steph had left for the day, leaving me both a note welcoming me to stay another night and a yummy selection of breakfast goodies and coffee.
As I was scrambling some eggs, Steph’s son Lucas of foraging and tiny house fame came in and I got to chat with him. His girlfriend Siesta had hiked the PCT in 2016 and is actually in Goat Rocks right now! He’s a firefighter by day but wants to open a creamery/brewery in Trout Lake–he dreams of cheese whilst fighting wildfire. Pretty chill. He soon headed out to go save the town and I had the house to myself.
Full of coffee, berries, and eggs, I now set off back to the general store to catch the shuttle back to the trail. A climb awaits (up to and around Mt. Adams!) so I’m in no hurry to get back quickly and reverse the effects of my shower. Going to see how long I can drag my feet. Feeling blessed and grateful to have met this special family and gotten a peek into their life–gotta say I like it a lot!