Editor’s note: This is the second part of Jeffrey Winchester’s second hike of the Pacific Crest Trail. Part I covered the California portion starting at the southern terminus. Here, in Winchester’s own words, is his trek through Oregon and Washington.
Special to the Democrat
California is a whole lot of trail miles. I was excited to be in Oregon and see the wonders it holds. The highlights for me were: Crater Lake, Mount Theilson, Cowhorn Peak, Obsidian Falls, Three Fingered Jack, Mount Jefferson, and the tunnel falls detour.
I met a hiker named “Professor” on July 27 and we completed the remainder of Oregon, 230 miles together. Our styles were very different as the “Professor” was very disciplined with his trail time and I am extremely chaotic. We both adapted to each other to some degree. Professor started waking me up early in the morning and I convinced him to do some night walking.
A memorable day for us was July 28. The previous evening we had discussed an attempt on our personal records for miles walked in a day. We were on trail at 5:30 a.m., and the scenery was inspiring. Gorgeous volcanic formations and big views spurred us on.
We had done 20 miles by noon and had a nice lunch break at Obsidian Falls. We took a dinner break at Lava lake and by the time we were crossing the highway at Sisters pass it was dark. The trail from here has several miles of pure lava. We had to take our time in the dark walking on black lava chunks.
Around 2:30 in the morning we reached mile 2,000 and the side trail to Big Lake Youth camp, a scheduled resupply point for both of us. We decided to call it a day and had covered 52 trail miles in 21 hours. I continued to hike with Professor to the Washington border and we arrived at the Bridge of the Gods on Aug. 3.
I had arranged to meet my wife and long-time hiking partner in Oregon to finish a multiyear goal of hiking the length of California together. I was back in California. The remaining segment runs from Etna summit to the border, about 80 miles. This was a fun time for me and I ate very well. We celebrated at the border with a cake my wife brought. A few days later I was back at the Bridge of the Gods and ready to walk in Washington.
The Pacific Crest Trail crosses the Columbia River on the Bridge of the Gods. This is the lowest elevation on the trail at 140 feet. Lots of elevation gain from here. Highlights in Washington are the Indian Heaven, Goat Rocks, Alpine Lakes, Henry Jackson, Glacier Peaks and Pasayten Wilderness areas.
There will be rain or at the least moisture in Washington, however my trip proved to be drier than 2011. I had excellent weather through the Goat Rocks wilderness and managed to see several goats this time around. Washington offers the most continuous beauty of scenery along the trail.
On Sept. 4 I left the trail town of Stehekin at mile 2,574. I had a great day and continued to walk late into the evening. The night was clear with a multitude of stars and as I moved towards Granite passes the Aurora Borealis started to flash brilliant purple that lit up all the surrounding mountains.
The next day I was met by two friends I met on the PCT in 2012. Gourmet and Cool Ranch had driven to Harts Pass from Seattle to walk with me to the border and back to Harts Pass. They brought great food and we had lots of fun walking the final leg of my trek together. On Sept. 7, I finished my walk of 2,660 miles.
I met so many wonderful people on the trail and would like to thank all those that helped me complete my hike.