7 miles of the PCT

This hike started at Dee Wright Observatory, and went about 7 miles south on the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT). The wind was blowing at 20-50 mph depending on location and time of day, the temps were in the 50’s, and it was foggy and overcast with occasional rain and hail coming in horizontally. It was glorious! I love being out in the weather.

I took a full pack load with shelter and an extra day’s food, in case something went wrong. Also, it got my pack weight up to 30 lbs for training purposes. This will be a standard practice for me.

My goal was to just spend half the day going south and the other half walking back. Since I got to the trail-head at 9am and needed to drive away by 5pm, I had 8 hours. My turnaround time was 1pm.

This area is in the middle of one of several large lava flows in the area. All you can see for miles is fractured lava piles. And if you’re not on top of a pile you see whole lot less. Here’s the trail-head on the side of Old McKenzie Highway:

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The camera work is shoddy. Sorry. The camera I used (Samsung S850) is not waterproof, the light was pretty low, and once I got going I couldn’t hold the camera still to save my life. The ‘Advanced Shake Reduction’ is worthless. I’m looking for a better camera.

I hiked 1.25 miles over the lava bed, then the trail dropped down into forest between the flows for a while. There was a good stream running down the center of the path thanks to the rain. Right off I saw the only creatures larger than a squirrel that I would see the whole trip: deer. First I took a pic of this one. I was shaking from the exertion, so the pictures came out pretty bad:

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Then I carefully packed my camera into a ziploc bag to keep it dry, and put it away. Only after doing that did the second deer pop out on the left, and then both joined 6 other deer that were hidden off-trail about 30 feet to my left. Of course, I didn’t have enough time to get the camera out before they were gone.

Here are 4 pics taken in that section:

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Then I met a couple guys at South Matthieu Lake. They were only crossing the PCT and had some off-trail lake in their sights. I got a picture of one of them. I tried to remember their names, but I’m really bad at that and I promptly forgot them. I should have wrote them down.

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Then the trail crossed over the lava flow again. These pics show the transition from forest to lava rock. These lava flows are downright surreal:

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Here are a couple shots I took while on the lava:

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These next two are pictures of Yapoah Crater, a large cinder cone I skirted. In the second picture, you are looking up a smooth slope climbing 500′ in elevation to the crater up there. Not a fun walk, no thank you:

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After I got back off the lava flow, more hiking:

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Here’s the same place as a short video clip:

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Then I got to the meadow where the Scott Trail comes in from the west and intersects the PCT. It was beautiful there, and the weather was nice for a little while. There is a nice little creek flowing north:

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Here’s video of the creek:

Just after I crossed the meadow and started up the hillside, it hit 1pm. My GPS odometer read 7.1 miles. I turned and walked out the way I came for a total of about 14 miles.

Here is a KMZ file for this trip.

This hike went well for me. My knees held up great. My calves and big toes felt beat up. I think this is because I tend to push off with my toes on every step. I’m working to limit that kind of motion.

The weather was exciting, with great gusts while up on the shoulder of Yapoah Crater and stinging hail coming in sideways from time to time. I have a plastic coated nylon raincoat. It doesn’t breathe, but I find that I can manage by venting with the zipper. I do need some rain pants though if the weather gets any wetter. And being the Pacific Northwest, it most assuredly will. I could also use a rainhat. My packed gear stayed nice and dry.

I really need a better camera that doesn’t fail when it gets damp or cold.

Finally, if you let the rain get into your ziploc bag of M&Ms much, they get pretty messy.

One Comment:

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