After yesterday's beautiful weather, it was only fitting that I woke up in swirling fog this morning. I panicked, thinking that rain was imminent and my sleeping bag would be rendered useless, but then I remembered that I'd be in town tonight, I'd be fine no matter what. Once I was packed up and got moving, drops began to fall, but I think it was only the clouds condensed in the trees, and the wind blowing the condensed water out of the trees.
We took the Eagle Creek alternate route down to Cascade Locks; far more beautiful than the PCT and a mile shorter. It follows Eagle Creek as it cascades from pool to pool, and goes through a tunnel behind a very tall waterfall along a sheer basalt cliff. It was pretty cool. It was also very rocky, and I was moving particularly slowly as I dealt with the tenderness of my feet and the slowness of my brain picking my way down the trail.
About four miles from the trailhead, I met a group of four women hiking with two or three men, out from Portland and elsewhere for Labor Day weekend. I tried to keep up with them because I knew my own natural pace just would not do, and when they offered to let me pass, I had to explain that I was actually jus mooching off of their speed and I could drop back farther if I was too close for comfort. Instead, we talked about the PCT and world news outside of the PCT, and before I knew it, I was at the trailhead saying goodbye to my new friends.
I asked another group of three women about the trailhead restrooms, and we started talking about the PCT and the High Sierra, and how two of them had just done the John Muir Trail a few weeks before. I complemented one on her super-cute boots as I simultaneously asked for a ride to Cascade Locks, and I was in. They even gave me Burts Bees sage oil spray-on deodorant!
Microburst, Sweet 16, and I met Jeff, a friend of a friend, at the Charburger in Cascade Locks. I had been really afraid that we were asking way too much by calling one week in advance, sending tons of boxes for him to pick up at the Post Office, and showing up expecting rides, showers, laundry, and probably food and beds as well. I got over my fears fast, probably faster than I should have. Jeff and his wife Lindsey were so cool and relaxed that I quickly forgot any semblance of manners thar I may have once had.
After much deliberation ("I dunno, what do you want to do?" "I dunno, what do you want to do?") we decided to stay in for dinner, which was an excellent choice. Lindsey talked herself down as a cook, but the food was truly excellent. We had a caprese salad (or at least I think that's the right name) with fresh mozzarella and tomatoes and basil from the garden, saffron rice, heirloom green beans, broccolini sauteed in olive oil and bacon (I ended up licking the pan clean), and salmon that Josh had caught in the Kasilof river. I ate a ton, but since it was good food rather than the gross stuff I usually gorge myself on, I never got sick. Between the shower, the food, the beer, and the company, I went to bed a very happy girl.