Our message for this post is simple: the Pacific Crest Trail section through Washington is special. At least we think so. After five years of living in this state, there’s no place we’d rather be… except maybe somewhere warm and sunny during the thick of winter, but that’s beside the point. As soon as our feet crossed the Bridge of the Gods on the OR/WA border, we felt at home and excited to see new areas of the Cascade range.
Goat Rocks Wilderness
Even with our love for Washington in mind, we’re still able to admit that things start out a little underwhelming considering the hype of this section. But you’ve got to have faith! As you climb out of the Columbia River Gorge and towards Mount Adams, you’re mostly in the heart of a forest. Everything is green and lush. Streams are abundant but the views are limited. That is, until the trail takes you around the base of Mt. Adams, where you catch frequent glimpses of the 12,280 foot volcano. It’s easy to then think, “Huh, the guide books weren’t kidding.” Best of all, you’re just getting started.
Once Mt. Adams is in the rearview and you continue north, the next big landmark is Goat Rocks Wilderness. If you ask a PCT Thru-hiker what their favorite section is, 9 times out of 10 (maybe more! This is a made up figure after all) they will chant Goat Rocks – Goat ROCKS! Rather than over explain the spectacular nature of this place, I will shut up and let the pictures say it all.
This stretch has some of the best ridge walking on the entire PCT. Three volcanoes can be seen from one place, two of them looking equally massive from your vantage. Doesn’t this just make you want to dance?!
When a Pacific Crest Trail thru-hiker reaches Oregon it’s like putting on a fresh pair of trail runners. The air feels full of fresh oxygen (no stinky foot odor), the trail itself seems smoother, and the uphills are no big deal. Hikers that reach Oregon usually have one thing on their mind: it’s time to cruise! Remember, the mornings are meant for cooking miles, not oatmeal! When thru-hikers talk about hiking 30 or 40 or 50 or 60 miles in a single day, they’re usually bragging about some stretch they did in Oregon. There are two well-known trail challenges that some people embrace. The first one is to hike the entire state (450 miles) in 14 days, and the second challenge is to hike as many miles as possible within 24 hours.
We did neither challenge. But ended up hiking Oregon in a casual 16 days.
Sure, this is a state for hiking big miles, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t beauty along the way. Crater Lake is one of our most memorable experiences on trail. To get to the viewpoint, you trudge uphill through a green tunnel, wondering when you’ll finally catch a glimpse. Once you break out of the trees, there’s this sandy walk to the caldera rim and GASP – before you is the bluest blue you have ever blued.
Tuna Butter hates walking on sand, absolutely despises it, but he was able to set that aside to walk the Rim Trail, catching amazing views of the lake. If you follow this alternate route (which you should), you’ll find yourself falling into step with national park visitors and day hikers. Can they smell you? Yes, most definitely. But at this point into the trail, what others perceive of you no longer matters.