After a couple of zeroes in Bend, Dad dropped us back at the trail (after the solar eclipse, of course!) past the Whitewater fire closure on Mt Jefferson. Although it was early in the evening we were keen to get our tents up and get to sleep, because we had a plan.
A week earlier, while hiking with Double D and Kraken, we mentioned we were interested in trying to see how far we could hike in 24 hours. 50 miles might be doable, we thought. Sounds interesting, they thought. But, if we’re going as far as 50, why not a double marathon? No one said it was an objectively good idea, but we thought it was great one. We managed to drag Jukebox and Snackblock into it as well! What’s the worst that could happen, right?
Back at Olallie lake, our alarms set for midnight, we got into our and tried to sleep. Midnight came too soon (especially for those trying to sleep nearby) and we sprang into action. Headlamps on, we were ready to hike by 12:40 AM. A short walk found us back at the PCT and then we were off! We had decided to hike together during the dark hours for motivation. We rotated the leader every couple of miles so that we each had a chance to lead and breathe the air before it is filled with dust stirred up by pounding of twelve feet. By 7 am, we had managed 17 miles – so now, only a usual day of hiking left! No problem!
The next section we hiked separately, meeting up again near a road where a trail angel had a table full of trail magic spread out! A banana and a coke really hit the spot. A few miles later, we stopped at Timothy Lake for our lunch break. Water bombers cruised low overhead towards the lake every 10 minutes or so. We had managed 33 miles by 1300 and tried to cram as many calories as possible in before we set out again. Only 19 to go! We hiked together once again, switching leaders every couple miles to help track the passage of time and keep our motivation up. By the time we stopped for our dinner break it was after 7 pm. We had over 5 miles to go, and it was all uphill. We knew we’d make it at this point, but we were all starting to feel the fatigue. Luckily, food and short rest did the trick and we were off again for our final push!
Headlamps on again, we walked out into the night. The final 15 miles of our day were uphill, but the last 5 miles were the real struggle of the day. When we were about two miles out, I was relieved to think that in about 40 minutes we’d be done walking. And then we hit the sand. Climbing the shoulder of Mount Hood, we struggled to keep our forward momentum in the soft sand. It was the final hurdle of our day, and a very unwelcome one as we passed our 21st hour of hiking. And, after what felt like an eternity, we crested a hill into a small stand of trees and realized we had made it! 52 miles! An incredibly brief silent celebration ensued and then we quickly set up our tents. As I lay in my tent, I stuffed my remaining snacks into my face and then promptly fell asleep. What a day.
We woke with the sun and nearby hikers packing up. It was after 6 am, later than we would normally sleep. But today there was no rush, because we were only a short scamper from Timberline Lodge and their famous breakfast buffet! It wasn’t long before we were stuffing ourselves with eggs and potatoes and yogurt and smoothies and waffles and all the other wonders of the buffet. It was one of the best breakfasts of the trail and an awesome way to treat ourselves after the previous day.
Eventually we extracted ourselves from the buffet and comfy lounge chairs and hit the trail again. The hiking was beautiful, with amazing views of Mount Hood as we skirted around its west side. We took the Ramona Falls alternate as well, and took our dinner break right at the falls. We were able to hike another few miles for a total of 17 for the afternoon, but felt exhausted by it. We were asleep by 7:30, knowing we would be heading into Cascade Locks – the final town in Oregon – the next day.
We tried to wake at 4 am, but snoozed until 5. We had packed up and were moving by 5:30. It was weirdly dark, and once we hit a break in the trees it was clear why. It was cloudy and foggy, with only a small break on the horizon to show the contrast. It was blustery and the heavy moisture in the air was visible in the watery light of our headlamps. The moisture gathered on the bushes and trees and rained down on us when we were under forest cover. As the morning grew brighter, we basked in the beauty of this perfect Pacific NW day. It was absolutely stunning. We could feel the chill of autumn in the air, and noticed some of the leaves had already begun to turn colour; it was a reminder that the longest summer of our lives was coming to a close. It is a bittersweet idea to finish this trail, and I am trying not to give it too much airtime in my thoughts just yet. I just want to enjoy every last minute of this journey.
In the afternoon, the sun broke through the clouds and we were treated to beautiful views of Mount Hood and Mount Adams. Eventually, we headed into the final descent to Cascade Locks – the lowest elevation point on the whole PCT. After 32.5 miles, we reached town. After a quick shower we were off to meet some old friends (Martyn and Simon and Ellen) at the brewery for a catch up! It was great to see them!
Today, we took a day off to relax – probably our last zero day on this trail. We were happy to have our other friends, Tim and Sharon, come out for a visit and spent the rest of the day preparing ourselves for the rest of the trail. Tomorrow, we head across the Bridge of the Gods and into Washington. Only 500 miles stand between us and the Canadian border now!