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ALONG THE PACIFIC CREST TRAIL -- September Section Hikes in Oregon and Washington --

ALONG THE PACIFIC CREST TRAIL -- September Section Hikes in Oregon and Washington --

ALONG THE PACIFIC CREST TRAIL -- September Section Hikes in Oregon and Washington --

Pacific Crest Trail Washington Mt Adams thru hiker
We had a genuine Northwest September this year.  The first fall rains came the first week, bringing out mushrooms like we haven't seen in years.  Then a return to warm and summery weather to remind us how friendly our climate can be.  There were some showery days with sun-breaks mixed in there, and now the snow has returned to the mountains, blanketing them white.
Mt Adams from Indian Heaven Wilderness along PCT
I was out hiking sections of the PCT in Washington and Oregon for much of August and September.
Most of my August Pacific Crest Trail adventures in Oregon have already been documented,
(see "PCT Thru-Hikers at Wapinitia Pass" & "Hiking the Pacific Crest Trail: Oregon & Washington Sections" blog postings), but here the story continues.

PCT Washington hiking in the rain  Mt Adams and gentian flowers along the PCT

Ten consecutive days on the trail, four wilderness areas (Douglas, Goat Rocks, Mt. Adams & Indian Heaven), twenty-five thousand feet of elevation gained, one-hundred-fifty miles hiked, dozens of thru-hikers encountered (yet solitude and nature found), the full range of northwest weather (from storm-tested gear to bright starry nights), plus it was the longest section I'd ever hiked in one go ... What more can I say?  It was simply an amazing Pacific Crest Trail experience.
Midway Campsite near Mt Adams along the PCT in Washington
I was heading southbound, so I ran into many different thru- and section- hikers, some I even encountered more than once.  So many different approaches to the trail, each one hiking their own hike.  The one thing that they all had in common was a respect for and appreciation of the trail.
Family from Seattle with Next Adventure Bandanas  Thru Hiker along Washington PCT with Sawyer Water Filter
Some highlights include:
- Camping under the stars at elevation on Mt. Adams
- Huckleberries galore along the trail in Indian Heaven
- Running into northbound thru-hikers that I had met at Timberline Lodge the week before
- Talking to stoked Thru-hikers that had resupplied at Next Adventure in Portland
- Meeting hikers that had been stoked-out by Rochelle and Don's Next Adventure Trail Magic
- Seeing thru-hikers I had met along the trail show up at PCT DAYS in Cascade Locks
Lobster mushroom along Washington PCT  Pika Rock Rabbit by Pacific Crest Trail in Washington  Admirable Bolete in woods along Pacific Crest Trail

PCT DAYS - CASCADE LOCKS (September 6-8, 2013) --
PCT Days Cascade Locks evening raffle

Wow, what a way to come off the trail!  A festival focused on hiking and the many outdoor recreational activities in the Columbia River Gorge.  Andrew rolled up with the booth, banners and swag from Next Adventure, and I met him on Thunder Island for the event.  A record crowd came out, hundreds participated in the gear raffle and other events, including stopping by the Next Adventure booth for a free t-shirt or pack-fitting.PCT Days Cascade Locks Andrew fits a pack

Shuttles had been arranged to bring thru-hikers back, and much of the pack was passing through that weekend, so there were over a hundred thru-hikers at the event, too, including a number I had met on the trail days before.  Thanks to all of the volunteers that helped pull off this great success!  If you missed this one, put PCT Days on your calendar for next year!

There was certainly a buzz on the trail and at PCT Days about Reese Witherspoon and Nick Hornby filming Cheryl Strayed's WILD in Cascade Locks, Oregon. Anyone who didn't know about the Pacific Crest Trail and thru-hikers after the book's media frenzy will be hearing about it when the movie comes out!

Mt. Hood Timberline PCT sign with new snow
My last visits to the PCT came the last week of September, as I was out guiding a NW Discoveries Road Scholar tour.  We day-hiked different trails on Mt. Hood, saw lots of mushrooms, spawning salmon, old growth trees, waterfalls and other northwest natural wonders.  Plus we hiked sections of that good ol' PCT, along Timothy Lake to Little Crater Lake, and up behind Timberline Lodge on Mt. Hood proper.
Pholiota Mushrooms on Mt. Hood National ForestThere were still thru-hikers at the Lodge, and the Road Scholar participants were fascinated by the thru-hikers' stories.  I even ran into a thru-hiker I knew as a former Next Adventure employee, Matt Margiotta.  He had taken a few zero days in Portland, and was just getting back on the trail (after enjoying a cozy night at Timberline Lodge). It was good to see him, and I wished him and his friend, Cocoa, a good hike.

Looks like they weren't moving fast enough to escape this early dump of snow in the Cascades.  I read in the Oregonian that they had been air-lifted out by the Coast Guard somewhere north of Trout Lake.  It was raining when they went to sleep, and over two feet of snow on the ground when they awoke the next morning.  Yikes.

It's good and all that thru-hikers travel light - faster can be safer.  And I am sure they get spoiled by all of the good weather for the first 2/3 of their Mexico-to-Canada journey in California and Oregon.  But mountains are mountains, and they make their own weather.  If you are venturing up to the higher elevations, be ready for four seasons this time of year.  Carry your survival essentials, including your map and compass.  A trail may seem easy to follow, but cover everything with snow, and trails can disappear, just like that.  Be prepared.

If you'd like to bone up on (or learn for the first time) your orienteering skills, come on by the Next Adventure Grand Store the evening of Tuedsday, October 8, 2013, at 7 pm, for a FREE CLINIC covering basic map and compass skills.

If you are curious about mushrooms you see growing by the trail and would like to learn more about them, then attend a FREE MUSHROOM PRESENTATION on the evening of Thursday, October 17, 2013, at 7 pm, again at the Next Adventure Grand Store in southeast Portland.

See below for listings of upcoming clinics and trips with Next Adventure.
New snow on Mt. Hood in September 2013
More snow is accumulating at higher elevations as I write this, the first week of October.  I must confess the promise of an early snow-pack has me itching to get out my skis and bring them in for a tune.  The Next Adventure Tune Shop opens on October 10th.
And Next Adventure's Winter Kingdom is coming!

Next Adventure Outreach Free Clinics & Activities
Tuesday, October 8       - Intro to Map & Compass Free Clinic
Thursday, October 17    - Mushroom Identification Free Presentation
Tuesday, November 12 - Snowshoeing & Cross-country Skiing Free Clinic
Learn more at NextAdventure.net/Community/Outreach

Next Adventure Outdoor School Hikes & Snow Trips
Saturday, October 12   - Mushroom ID Hike
Sunday, October 20      - Salmon Hike
Friday, November 22    - Snowshoe & XC Ski Trips
Saturday, December 7 -  Snowshoe & XC Ski Trips
Find out more at NextAdventure.net/Outdoor-School
Chinook Salmon spawning on Mt. Hood National Forest
Greg Hill is Lead Guide and Program Manager for the Next Adventure Outdoor School, based in Portland, Oregon.

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