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PCT Hiking: Wind River

As I sit here on a very cold day in December, writing this post had me smiling – of good memories but also of how the years make the memories better 😉

June 8, 2008.

After flipping back and forth watching the sad cold weather in Washington, Steve and I decided to take a chance and go for it. We would try to grab another section of the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT). This one being Wind River, heading Southbound, towards the Oregon Border with Washington State and Bridge of The Gods. We had no idea what awaited us, but we had a feeling it wouldn’t be pretty. We had been wanting to do this section for a couple of years to get it done and didn’t want to do it in August when it was hot and dry. But maybe a heavy snow year wasn’t the best choice……

Well, I suppose we were not disappointed 😛

To ensure success, pie was had the night before:


We had stayed with relatives the night before, and they dropped off onto FS road 43 not long after dawn (the Trout Creek Trailhead) and we headed South on the trail over the massive concrete bridge.


The first mile was quite easy. Nothing to impede hiking. You get great views from here, and can see where you will be soon enough. Our cloud cover started to break up here and soon we had solid blue skies above us.


Looking down way below:


Not long after that we hit the first major mess. It was a climb down into a gully, then a mud/moss/slime covered climb back up. Then hands and knees climb under trees.


The trail got better for a while after. It was pretty in this section, newer forest, open and airy.


At about 2½ miles in we encountered snow. Ford and I went low (Ford in photo) where the snow was thickest in this gully.


As we crested the first old road crossing at about 2900 ft the snow was steady, a couple of feet or more thick. It stays chilly in here, and the snow sticks around.


The trail road walks for a little bit then heads back into a dense forest. The secret is to never lose sight of the PCT logos or the white diamond reflectors nailed into the trees up high. We never got lost in the forest of snow – we looked for cut trees from years past and often spread out a bit to spot reflectors.


Steve standing above a tree well showing the depth of snow at 3000 ft.


The traversing was side-hilling snow, crossing long fields of it all the while jumping under and over falling over Vine Maple. Well, it was at this point we were doing a painful 1 mph. If it wasn’t snow, well? It was a ton of blow downs. Ford went to wearing his gloves so he could move faster.


There was more fun along the way, stream crossings in tight ravines with washed out walls where one hopped across then pulled themselves up.

Even as the trail started to drop in elevation the snow did not stop. We didn’t lose snow till about 1500 ft! And as we lost snow….the blow downs became worse. All of us got leg injuries from trees gouging us.

We ate lunch and said “this is not going so well”. We were not making the miles and we realized that within a couple of miles we would be going back up. So we decided to find an out and grabbed the maps.

Selfie time (Steve was into taking closeups for a while apparently, well before selfies became a “thing”) – I had braces that year put on.


After that we enjoyed the really pretty forest and watching the North Fork creek below us.

Ford in the forest.


There were a lot of flowers opening up along the way from Trilliums to Avy Lilies.


We came out on a spur road right before Rock Creek and headed downhill till we met up with FS road 2000. Then we turned onto it and headed downhill. We were painfully hoping we would meet someone who would at least give one of us a ride so we could get cell phone receptionm and be able to call for a ride. Road walking is brutal to the feet and we were dying. For a beautiful Sunday there was nearly no one out and we didn’t see anyone for miles. We came around the corner to this waterfall and saw a small SUV.

Waterfall pouring into Rock Creek along FS road 2000:


The couple was incredibly nice and gave all of us lift to back to Washdougal. We’d have sucked it up and been happy with Stevenson, Wa but they wanted to help us out. And did they! They dropped us off at our car which we were so happy to see.


It was 6 pm – we decided to run for home 3 hours away. After having a spirit restoring pig out meal we hit the road.

Snow free this trip would have been easy and we would have made it to the Columbia River. But….we knew it would be even harder on the second uphill. The fear of where to put our tarps – there was no flat areas on the snow. So a backpacking trip became a long dayhike. Someday I will try to finish this small section. It was just hard to realize that a section that isn’t necessarily “PCT scenic” held snow so long at a low elevation. We had wanted to finish it in shoulder season, so we could have fun doing the alpine sections in summer.

2 thoughts on “PCT Hiking: Wind River

  1. I still have the scars on my shin from that trip! I’ve completed that section since this trip (in the summer) and it’s actually pretty nice, with GREAT views beginning about 3 miles south from where we bailed.

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