Distance hiked today: 16.6 miles / 26.7 km.
Last day of the Oregon Challenge! With 16.6 miles left, we'll be done by noon, successfully hiking the state in 12.5 days (with the 49 mile closure skip).
My clothes were crusty with dried salt and dirt in the morning. For sunrise we could see Mt St Helens, Mt Adams, and Mt Rainier all at once in the distance among the orange and pink glow of the sun.
We took the Eagle Creek alternate trail down the mountain. It started out ridiculously steep downhill, then it completely disappeared and I bushwacked down over trees and thick bush until I got back to a trail. It was extremely humid here, and it felt like a jungle. I was drenched in sweat and humidity from head to toe. My consolation prize were a few berries growing along the trail - blackberries, thimbleberries, and purple raspberries.
Tunnel Falls was the coolest thing I've seen on trail so far. The trail was cut into the side of the canyon cliff, winding around the edges up to a waterfall, and then going BEHIND the waterfall through a mossy green tunnel in the rock. So. Freaking. Cool. (See video.)
Later in the morning, a flood of day hikers were coming up the trail to visit the falls, a relatively short hike from town. We couldn't help noticing how clean they were, and how good they smelled. The lingering smell of shampoo from their morning shower or deodorant wafted by with them. Our noses, unaccustomed to the smell of cleanliness, pick it up distinctly.
One nice man walking by noticed how dirty Giggles' legs were, and was genuinely concerned about the condition of the trail ahead of him and whether he would be getting this dirty. "Is this from the trail??" he asked with slight alarm. "No don't worry," Giggles told him, "we've been walking since Mexico and I haven't showered in 18 days." I think this sent him into even more of a headspin.
Then we made it to Cascade Locks! Sitting right at the border of Washington, it's the end of Oregon. What a time!
We checked into the motel, got snacks, and headed for the shower. Then promptly had a 3 hour nap before dinner, and I tried to stay horizontal as much as possible.
Total trail mileage: 2148 miles / 3456.1 km