Mile reached: 2147.1 (+28.4 + 0.5 bonus)
High: Lots of free beer in Cascade Locks
Low: There were so many huckleberry bushes along the trail, but none of them had any berries on them!
Huckleberries consumed: 0 🙁
I was one of the first ones out of camp next to the spring and dashed though the swarm of mosquitoes back to the trail. The gradual descent into the Columbia Gorge continued through the dense forest that occluded most views of the surrounding mountains. However, it was evident that there was quite a bit of smoke in the air, which also happened to make everything hazy. Before too long, I ran across a side trail for Buck Peak, the highpoint of Multnomah County. So, I quickly tagged that and was rewarded with a good view of Mount Hood above Lost Lake.
As I continued toward the Columbia River, the descent was annoyingly roundabout. Some idiot teenager threw a firecracker into the forest the previous year, which resulted in a fire that severely burned much of the forest in the area. Historically, most hikers descend to the town of Cascade Locks via Eagle Creek, which is both direct and scenic. But, due to the fire that trail was closed, and instead I was forced to hike through burnt out forest along an undulating ridge before dropping down steep switchbacks.
Eventually, I crossed under I-84 and entered the tiny town of Cascade Locks. Almost immediately, I found “Gandalf” sitting on the concrete sidewalk in the shade out front of the grocery store. He had left Timberline several hours before me, so I hadn’t seen him since then. My new shoes had been mailed to the Cascade Locks Alehouse, so we wandered over there. It turned out that they ran a very hiker friendly operation even giving us our first beer on the house. They also served us a special hiker trash burger, which had an 8 oz patty and two personal pizzas for buns.
As chance would have it, “Gandalf” had a highschool friend from Sweden show up. Of course, he brought candy and sweets from Ikea. But, he also kept buying us beer until he needed to continue his road trip. A local informed us that the brewery in town also had free beers for thru-hikers, so we went over there too! The rest of the evening was spent in a hotel parking lot with beer where we washed our clothes. I even got someone to pop a bag of microwave popcorn for us that I had found in the hiker box!
As it happens in town, we also hear news about other people on the trail. Some people that we hiked with were only a little more than halfway. Others like “Scooter” and “Puma” had decided to get off trail. That in particular was difficult, because part of me wished I could have been back there to tell them, as with “Freebird”, that you’ve come too far to just give up. But, then again there were even a few hikers in town that had just decided to quit only 500 miles from the border!
We concluded the night by stumbling down to a campground across the railroad tracks and camping on the grass next to the Columbia River with a large contingent of other thru-hikers.