Hi, my name is Isko Salminen.
I'm an adventure seeker and I love exploring nature with my camera and Australian Shepherd called Fire

Day 115: Oregon and all the fire closures

Date: August 22, 2017
Miles: 19.3 miles (31.1km) + 1.7 non-PCT miles (2.7km), from mile 1,782,4 to Sevenmile Trail Junction at mile 1,801.7.
Health: Feeling better but still need more sleep.

It’s a slow morning. We fill our water bottles up to full capacity as we’re heading into a long waterless section. Before the hike, I had this image that once we reach Oregon it would be all rainforests and waterfalls but somehow it feels more like the desert. It’s hot and dry with long waterless sections and we’ve had to start keeping a close eye on our next water sources – something we haven’t had to do in a long time.

Christi’s Spring – our morning water source.

We walk through big burn areas and the scenery is pretty miserable. The overhanging smoke and smell of fire are everywhere. I feel like the entire PCT section of Oregon has either just burned down, or is currently on fire. With the massive fires this year, I wonder how much of unburned trail is there going to be left in few years. Feels sad to walk through all these parts thinking this was probably a really pretty forest before it burned down.

Walking through many burn areas.

At one point I catch up to Sam as he’s sitting right on the trail, using the small spot with cell signal, to take care of some personal things. I walk a little further up and sit down to do the same. I check and reply to some comments and messages and check the trail conditions ahead. We can’t walk far today as the trail has been closed not far from where we are due to a new fire which started yesterday.

As we have no rush we walk on for a bit until we reach water and then take a long lunch break by the creek. Our mood is a bit down as we have to skip miles again and finding a way around the new closure is going to be another extra headache.

Keeping connected while on the trail.

Easy cruising along mountain-sides.

After lunch, the trail is pretty easy and we cruise down fast. I reach the 1800 mile marker and decide to wait for Sam to catch up. In a few minutes he comes by and we walk the last 1.7 miles to the trail closure. From there it’s another 1.7 miles to the Sevenmiles trailhead to get off the trail.

Another mile marker.

Sam catching up to me.

We get to the trailhead early and try to make some sense of the complicated instructions on how to get off the mountain. As there are few cars at the trailhead, instead of trying to walk the 10-mile road walk along a dirt road, we decide to do the next best thing: sit down and wait.

As we wait a car drives up with two guys inside, looking like they’re about to go hiking. We instantly strike up a conversation, hoping to somehow yogi a ride back down. As they realize they might not make it far with the trail closure, they start to think of a plan b. For over two hours we stay close to them and keep a conversation going, hoping they’d decide to turn around and we’d get a ride along with them.

PCT trail closed.

Finally, right before dark, they decide to head back and we get a ride with them. While driving down we’re happy we got the ride as there are several intersections and getting lost would’ve been a real possibility. Also, it would’ve been a pretty boring and long walk.

Once we reach the highway they drop us off and we thank them for the ride. Sadly it’s already dark and too late to hitch. With a quick scoping of our surroundings, we realize our only option is to sleep on the small patch of semi even ground right next to the highway. The patch is barely wide enough for our shelters.

Waiting for someone to pick us up.

Just as we’re getting our shelters up it starts to rain. While my shelter is not fully setup I dash in to take cover from the rain. Soon the wind picks up and I have to go outside in the dark and rain to properly stake down my shelter. Just as I get everything tight the wind really picks up and a thunderstorm swoops over us.

The lightning lights the sky around us and we can see every strike through our shelter walls. We’re happy to be down from the mountain but can’t help but to think if the thunder is going to cause more fires. I soon fall asleep with the sound of thunder and trucks going by every few minutes. Not my favorite camp spot along the PCT.