9/8: (5.9 miles) Because of the bad weather I experienced in Oregon, I decided to jump up to Cascade Locks and start Washington. I spent the night with my aunt in Portland, then headed out the next afternoon to Cascade Locks. At around 5pm I hiked over the Bridge of the Gods (a freaky, all-metal bridge with no room for pedestrians). I started my hike out of the Columbia Gorge and it was beautiful! I was more or less hiking through a rainforest (minus the rain). It was the most lush, dense, and "undergrowth-full" forest I think I've ever seen! Around 8pm I set up camp and went to bed.
9/9: (14.2 miles) It's SO HARD to get up early when the sun is muffled by the thick tree canopy. The light is dim and the air is still cool (even around 9am). Because I did part of today's miles yesterday I didn't have quite the rush this morning (so I got up at 9). Unfortunately, getting out of the gorge isn't just one big hill and you're done. Washington is notorious for its big ups and downs. For the next couple days I'll be going up and down 2000 feet at a time (it's like the Sierras but at a lower elevation). Fortunately most of today was spent in the shade thanks to the dense canopy (see above), but Washington still gets plenty hot (it's pretty humid). I camped tonight at a nice creek but got "attacked" all night by tiny mice. Eventually (about 1:30am) I threw my food outside my tent (it's in a rodent-proof bag) and slept. Now I probably have close to 10 half-dollar-sized chew holes in my tent. Yay.
9/10: (19.7 miles) More up and down today. In fact, until lunch I had about 2000 feet to go up then down the other side. On the way I met up with a hiker I've known for a while- Pudding. We hiked together down to the bottom of the hill and had lunch down there where Pudding's hiking partner Shameless met up with us. We leapfrogged the next 5 miles or so to the Panther Creek Campground and I left them to continue up the next hill (but not before filling up an extra 2 L of water for the night). I set up next to a dirt road and put my food bag outside this time. I then proceeded to sleep like a rock tonight!
9/11: (21.9 miles) About 45 min after leaving my campsite this morning (I got up around 8 and left around 8:45) Shameless and Pudding caught up to me again. Which is good because I can pretty easily slack off when hiking by myself. Pudding and Shameless hike pretty close to my pace but they take way less breaks than I do. We met some people from Portland out on the trail with their llamas (I uploaded a picture to the Google Drive of them). They were just out for the weekend. We had lunch at a dirt road and "parking lot" where there were picnic tables and a pit toilet (locked, of course). After the nice long lunch I headed up the next hill by myself and fortunately this one I didn't have to go all the way down the other side (we more or less stayed up). I met lots of weekenders from Portland (no one from anywhere else- strange) around Blue Lake and Lemei Lake on the way to the campsite. I pushed past my campsite and camped with Shameless and Pudding at Deer Lake.
9/12: (10.0 miles) Again, hard to get up this morning. Shameless and Pudding left just before 7am and I didn't get out of bed till 8. Today was town day and I had 20 miles till the "proper" road to hitch into town. But since I'm a little lazy, I went 6.2 miles to a "parking lot" and gravel road. After an hour I'd had a couple cars stop but no one going to Trout Lake. 3.8 miles later I stopped at a paved road for lunch. After half an hour I had seen only one car going my way (not far enough) but they said there were a few cars at a parking lot next to a lake a couple hundred feet down the road. I walked there and there was one woman who said they were mushroom hunting for the next couple hours and were all going down into Trout Lake! So I sat and read my kindle for the couple hours and during that time one car pulled up and gave me a chocolate bar! The group got back and the leader (a retried mycology professor who does these outings a couple times a year at $50/person- donating the money to charity) gave me a ride down to pick up my box and find me a place to stay. All the rooms everywhere were booked for an event this weekend but a woman named Mary who bakes the desserts for the Country Inn put me up at her barn which is fully renovated for barn dances, weddings, and other parties. It was marvelous! Back on trail tomorrow...