Home Pacific Crest Trail PCT: Gaining the High Country

PCT: Gaining the High Country

by Lisa
DAY 4: Panther Creek to Lava Bed Camp

I had my first properly solo night on the trail, however I’m not entirely sure it counted with a full campground 0.2 miles away… either way I slept well and was awake with first light.

I was a bit slower getting out of camp. The biggest amount of time was taken up bandaging my feet. I was nursing 7 blisters, 3 of which had already popped on the trail. Not awesome. I was also getting into more of a morning routine, including some much-needed stretching in my tent to work out the kinks of the day before.

Crossing Panther Creek

The first few miles on trail that day were a slog of switchbacks. I counted out eight switchbacks on the map and turned it into a “drinking game” for myself. Every time I reached a turn I’d stop, count out the switchbacks left, and reward myself with a good drink of water!

Thankfully the grade eased out a bit once I gained the ridge. The next couple miles were a gentler climb, rolling along the ridge and slowly gaining elevation. The forest also became more varied, with wildflowers to add pops of colour to my journey.

For lunch I made it to a beautiful campsite on a high shelf with a view south of Mt. Hood. I gave myself a good hour’s break there to relax, eat, and to dry out my sweaty socks and boots.

Great view of Mt. Hood

The miles passed by a lot more slowly after lunch. I put on a podcast to alleviate some of the boredom. My high point for the day was Big Huckleberry Mountain. I had gained over 3000 feet through the day. On the north side of the summit, I was rewarded with my first view of Mt. Adams.

My first view of Mt. Adams

A couple miles on I stopped for a break at a large empty campsite. I refilled my water and had a snack.

The last couple miles were tough ones. My feet hurt and my muscles were tired. I put on a podcast and kept trudging along through the forest. Eventually I spied the weird lava rock that indicated I was getting close to camp. I’d be hiking alongside the Big Lava Bed for the next few miles, a massive jumble of lava rock formed when a nearby cinder cone erupted.

Stunted trees growing in the lava bed

I made it to my campsite by about 4 pm. It had been a tough day, and also a bit lonely. I had seen a grand total of five people all day.

My evening was quiet. I explored a bit around the edge of the lava bed and then made dinner. I tucked in early but the evening sun wasn’t letting me fall asleep as early as I want. These long summer days are a blessing and curse!

Eventually I drifted off, allowing my body to rest and recuperate in hopes that I could keep going another day.

1 comment

sheila marples July 17, 2017 - 3:45 pm

I have been around Mt Hood and that is gorgeous scenery there. We have been to the lodge with and without the kids. The lodge is a favourite place of cousins of Norm\s–my husband. Norm used to fly back and forth to Portland a lot so over the years, we have explored Washington and Oregon a fair bit. There is some gorgeous scenery. I just came back from being up to Birkinhead lake up past Pemberton. It is absolutely a paradise up there. I saw some really interesting gardens and yards. Everyone decorates with rocks and weird shaped pieces of wood. Right up my alley. I did come home with some pieces of rock a piece of driftwood and also we made a few goodies which I shall use as gifts. Happy hiking and keep safe . I love the pictures and hearing from you


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