The rain was gone. We were dry and very happy to be back on the trail. I think we were all very happy to be back on the trail. We had all successfully lightened our packs a bit, dried everything off and gotten a good night’s sleep. I even ran to REI and got a new pair of shoes as my hiking boots I started out with would not have been dry in time and were doing horrible things to my feet. Good for day hikes apparently, not so much for backpacking.
It was still a bit chilly starting out but we quickly warmed up. Today was going to be a shorter day as we only had 6 miles to get to Paradise Park, but that worked out since we were getting a bit of a late start having to drive back up to the mountain that morning.
Most of the fog had blown away and we were able to get some pretty nice views of Mt Hood and surrounding areas at times. We finally got the to the section of the trail that went down the ZigZag River and were greeted with this amazing view.
One of the best parts about this section of the PCT is the stunning view you get of rivers down in canyons. One of the worst parts is that, usually, after you get this jaw-dropping stunning view, you get to take the trail down to that river, cross it, and then climb back up the other side. Well, ok, it’s not really that bad. I honestly enjoyed every grueling minute of it.
We began our descent down to the river. It was a very pretty trail and the further down we went the more beautiful it got. It reminded me a lot of the Eagle Creek Trail but steeper.
When we got to the bottom of the trail we decided that it was a good time to take a break and eat something and just enjoy the view for a while. We had a bit of a sketchy river crossing but it wasn’t too bad and we all made it across unscathed.
There was a pretty nice waterfall upstream so Stalker and I decided to go up and check it out. We sloughed off our packs and headed up to the falls. Stalker got there first, took some pictures and then took to stacking rocks. My foot was bothering me a bit from the previous days hike in my crappy hiking boots so I was a bit slower but made it up to the falls.
While at the falls I found some awesome sunglasses. They seemed to fit our trip, and I don’t like leaving trail garbage so I decided that the trail had gifted them to me. They were pretty stylish for trail glasses I think.
We hung out at the river a bit longer. Stalker and I tried to make the crossing a bit safer by adding some more rocks. We helped a few people across while we were there and also watched as some people just walked across downstream not caring about wet feet apparently.
Finally it was time to start back up the hill out of the canyon and head to Paradise Park. After so much downhill I was actually glad to head uphill some. Not that uphill was great the way my foot was feeling but my legs were glad to be using some different muscles.
At the junction to Paradise Park we met up with a guy who was doing the whole PCT. He told us he was the surly guy in the poncho the day before that had passed us up shortly after Barlow Pass. He seemed much happier today since it was not pouring down rain.
We also ran into a guy and his wife who we had started out the hike with at the beginning of the day, and how very quickly left us in their tracks. He had told us that he was doing all of Oregon one section at a time. They were just coming down from Paradise Park. He told us it was great up there and that he had gone all the way to the top, done a few cartwheels, flips and decided to come back down.
At this juncture we had the option of heading straight up to Paradise Park or continuing on the PCT and either backtracking to get up to where we were going to camp or coming up the back side. Stalker said that there was a really cool waterfall if we stayed on the PCT. I was torn. My foot was killing me, but I really didn’t want to miss the opportunity to see another cool waterfall. Eventually my foot won out and I was grateful at the end of the day that I had chosen what I had.
As we got into Paradise Park and crested the hill we came upon the perfect little campsite. We were near water, had a great view up a little canyon. Were secluded from the trail just enough, there were trees for Stalker to hang his hammock and it had a built in fire pit. (Even though there are no fires allowed in Paradise Park, and we didn’t use it, it was still cool that it was there.)
As we set up camp we realized a few things. First, it was pretty chilly up there, and second it was quite humid. As you can see in the above picture not all the cloud cover, or fog, or whatever had really burned off so there was quite a bit of moisture in the air. The moisture and the chilly factor made it quite cold where we were, so we decided it was worth it to build a small little fire. It was foggy enough that nobody could see the smoke and we threw up a tarp to trap the heat in.
Building a fire was not really easy as all the wood we could find to burn was damp and there was not much of it. We managed, however and were able to huddle around our tiny little fire that night and keep fairly warm.
Eventually some of the clouds blew away and we were blessed with a breathtaking view of Mt Hood. It seemed so close that we could just walk up there with little effort. Unfortunately our window for viewing the mountain was brief and soon the clouds blew back over we were once again only graced with a foggy blanket all around us.That night at some point we were awakened by the sound of passing hikers in the dark. I could see their lights moving up the trail on the other side of the little canyon that we had camped on. I quickly fell back asleep but was informed the next day that there was quite a party that night. There were drums and noises and possibly some human sacrifice or something. (Ok, we cannot prove that there was human sacrifice but it does make the story more interesting.)
Tomorrow’s blog post – The best cup of coffee I have ever had… Ever!