Somewhere more than thirty miles north of the Colombian Gorge, we climb out of the car and take a look at the park’s map. The PCT trailhead for this area should be nearby. We look around a bit thrown off; this map doesn’t match our paper map. We take a bit to figure it out and realized that we have driven to the wrong trailhead.
We throw our stuff back into the car and head back the way we came. We need to find a bigger map to see where we went wrong and how to fix it. We have already been an hour longer than planned to get here. Our ten mile hike is going to be cutting it close for the day. We like to have our camp set up before dark.
Back on the main road, we see a Forestry office and pull in. Outside, they have a huge map. We get on our knees and look at our location. It is thirty miles north of where we planned on starting our hike. We are all very glad that we didn’t just get out and say goodbye to my husband. In fact, he’s the one who said we were in the wrong place. So we try to match maps again and see where we should get dropped off. At that time the Forestry agent walks out to see if she could help. We follow her back into the office and discuss our plans and the options. We find a place on the map where we could drive up within five miles of where we want to camp that night. It is now past noon, and we are miles away from any either drop off point. We head to town to get lunch and make decisions.
After lunch, we head to the new location with full bellies. We are going to be dropped off near our camping spot. The plan was to be dropped off 30 miles north of the Columbian Gorge on the PCT and hike southbound for three days. Now we are getting dropped off at 20 plus miles with two and quarter days to hike. It’s all good though, we are out to have fun. It is a girls’ weekend. Camazon, Korientice, and I are hiking together this time. We are leaving my cousin at home because my daughter planned this to be girls only. When we get out of the car, we are in the middle of a one lane logging road right next to a PCT sign. We are giddy with excitement to be on the trail. Donning our packs and grabbing the loose odds and ends, we gather together and get our pictures taken. Then we head down the trail getting swallowed by the forest.
It doesn’t take long before we realize that we need to watch our steps because there are a multitude of slugs on the trail. When we reach our first water crossing, I am glad that we took the extra hour this morning to go from one sporting store to the next to find one open to get me another pair of trekking poles since I left mine at home. The trail goes down a bank across some rocks and up the other bank. On the first rock, I slip because of the slime on my shoes and catch myself with my new poles before I land in the water.
The next water crossing is a good sized river for me and my desert experience, but probably more of a creek for Washington. It has a nice wooden bridge to safely cross. Right there on the water just after the bridge are the camping spots we were looking for. The first one is a little small for three tents unless we want to set up right on the beach. The next one is cramped but doable. We set up our tents and move them around until we are happy with the placement. Then we hike around a bit considering that we have plenty of time before sunset. In our exploring, we find a hill with a trail. Of course, we couldn’t let that go unexplored. So we climb up using stumps to help us. At the top is a large camp spot with the water on two sides and a large hill toward the end. This is our spot. We eagerly climb down and gather up our tents. Without taking them apart, we climb the hill again. On our second trip to get our packs, a couple stops and asks about camping locations. We tell them to take the one we were leaving. The first spot we saw was already taken.
We were able to spread out and each of us got choice locations for our tents. Once set up, we went down to the water to explore more and to refill our water bladders. I discovered that my really nice water filter was plugged. I tried back flushing and a few other things, but failed to make it work. So, I had to borrow Camazon’s filter the rest of the trip. But we had fun that day. Dinner and a long game of Uno finished the night for us.
Even with all the things that went wrong so far, this was a great way to start the warmer backpacking season. And a great way to spend time with my daughter and her roommate.