Day 1: Bridge of the Gods to Table Mountain
It was a gorgeous day to start along the Pacific Crest Trail.
Hubs and I reached Cascade Locks around 11 a.m. and had a brief look around. It’s a pretty small town and was still sleepy on a Friday morning. However I imagine it’s a bustling place when the main bulk of the PCT hikers are on their way through the area late in the summer! Cascade Locks is also the host town of Pacific Crest Trail Days in the middle of August. Many PCT thru-hikers will jump off trail just to attend the festival!
As for us, we parked at the Forest Service parking lot on the curve to the bridge, geared up, and headed north.
Crossing the bridge was it’s own unique adventure. It’s a steel truss, two-lane bridge that’s over 90 years old. No sidewalks were built on it, so we were asked to cross on the west side facing traffic. It’s about 100 feet above the Columbia River and has metal grating as it’s surface. Don’t look down!
The trail followed a hydro corridor alongside the road for about a mile and then turned north into the forest. From there we started our climb up, up, and up to Table Mountain.
We took a late lunch break at little lake and then continued onward, crossing through meadows, over creeks, through clear-cuts and under power lines. After about 4 miles of this variety we really started into the forest. It was surprisingly humid under the big trees and we struggled a bit to gain elevation. We did however enjoy the lushness of the forest, and especially the variety of wildflowers along the trail.
We crossed into the Table Mountain Conservation Area and stopped to fill up our water bladders at a small creek. Finally in another two miles we reached our camp for the night, a small site but high on the ridge and catching a bit of a breeze. We had covered 9.6 miles in the heat of the afternoon and were glad to set up our tent and put our feet up in the hammock that Dan had very nicely thought to pack along for us.
Around 8 pm a group of three backpackers came along the trail from the north and begged to share our rather small site. They had been on trail for about a week, and had just hiked a 20-mile day. They were pretty exhausted and looking forward to heading out to Cascade Locks and for home the next day. In chatting with them I learned that there was some snow up ahead, in the Indian Heaven Wilderness. However I knew it was 4 days ahead of me and I decided not to worry about it until I got there.
Eventually we tucked in and enjoyed a comfortable first night on the trail. I was grateful to have my husband along for those first 10 miles, and was especially looking forward to getting out on my own and heading northwards in the morning.