Last week, Paul and I flew up to Redmond, Oregon, to hike through the Mount Jefferson Wilderness on the Pacific Crest Trail. When we hiked in 2017, a fire closed a 35-mile segment of trail, and we’ve been thinking about that missing segment ever since. We’re overdue for a backpacking trip, and this is the middle of thru-hiking season, so it seemed fitting to do it now. We hiked out-and-back, making our total journey somewhere between 75-80 miles.
The hike included a few glacial creek crossings, some small segments of snow, flows of volcanic rock, and the remains of 3 fires: the Whitewater Fire that closed the trail in 2017, the Puzzle Fire that burned in 2006, and the B&B Fire from 2003. There were also still plenty of trees, grass, flowers, and mosquitoes. It was interesting to see the different stages of recovery from each fire. Through the first, the conifer trees are slowly reclaiming the land, but they remain less than six feet high. In the second, beargrass and flowers were plentiful, and the conifer trees were just sprouting up. And in the fire from 2017, soot and ash still cover the trees and the ground, and the birds and animals still seem to be avoiding the area. If nothing else, the PCT is a journey across a land of fire, and it’s interesting to see
While this wasn’t our first time backpacking since we finished the CDT, it’s our first time being back on the PCT, and it felt a little strange to not be a thru-hiker. At the same time, we felt right back at home, and back with our people. We saw quite a few thru-hikers heading in both directions, but the best part is we saw someone we know! Red Feather, who we met last year on the CDT with her husband, is solo hiking the PCT southbound, and we crossed paths with her on the morning of our second day on trail. We were all so excited to see each other, we joked about how smooth and easy the PCT is compared to the CDT, and we talked about other trails we have/will/want to hike. Later that day we started hiking with a northbound hiker, and ended up camping together that night. We talked about gear and food and other typical hiker topics of conversation. In the morning we walked together for a mile before Paul and I reached our turn-around point near Breitenbush Lake. We stopped to commemorate officially walking every mile of the PCT before saying goodbye and parting ways.
The day before, as we neared Mount Jefferson, the clouds rolled in and obstructed our view of the mountain. Fortunately, the clouds were gone by the next morning. We had great views of the mountain we hadn’t even realized we were missing. On our last night out, we cowboy camped near a lake. There were about a dozen thru-hikers camped around the lake, but we still had some privacy as everyone was spread out nicely. The night was clear and dark, so we had great views of the stars.
We wished we didn’t have to come back to the real world, but unfortunately we did. We’re hiking the 165-mile Tahoe Rim Trail in September, so this trip really got us excited to be back in the Sierra and back on the PCT for a little bit again. Plus, we’ve got a lot of new gear. This was our trial run, but most of it will also be used on the TRT, so we should have more gear reviews and a few more recipes coming in the fall. In the meantime, we returned to Bend and spent a day in town enjoying the lovely summer weather and visiting some breweries.