Hiking the PCT in 2020: Taking what we can get

It goes without saying that 2020 did not go as planned. I started the year with two big hikes on the calendar and ended it glad to have gotten out at all. Our Washington follow up to last year's Oregon PCT section didn't happen. We chose not to do that because we never camped alone on the PCT in 2019. Hiking the PCT can be quiet for long stretches of the day, but people tend to pile up at camp. That was redisovered on an overnight in early July to Wahtum Lake from Cascade Locks. Camping with other hikers is one of the fun parts of the PCT usually, but maybe not quite what you're looking to do in 2020. We probably could have chosen more undeleveloped camps to avoid crowds this year, but beyond that we just didn't feel comfortable doing long stretches of the trail in 2020 with on-trail resupplies and town stops. When we did get out this year we did overnights or day hikes - mostly day hikes.

We came up with a good 2020 idea on one of those day hikes though. The first roughly 140 miles on the PCT northbound in Washington from the Oregon border have no real easy options for resupply which makes for a pretty long food carry. And probably the first half of that are miles that are not really new to us: the Gorge and the southern regions of the Gifford Pinchot National Forest. We'd never hiked most of those miles, but they'd be fairly familiar looking terrain most likely and they weren't the parts of Washington that I was most excited about. So in sticking close to home in 2020 we decided we'd hike the first half of that 140 mile section as out and back day hikes to cross it off the list. Maybe this sounds boring, but it was actually a great trip to look forward to each week and I enjoyed it far more than I expected. And it will make our 2021 section hike in Washington much easier logistically by halving our food carry. You take what you can get in 2020. Here are a couple of pictures from our PCT walks this year.

  • Oregon miles on an overnight in July between Cascade Locks and Wahtum Lake
  • Indian Heaven Wilderness: the northern end of our Washington section begins at Forest Road 23 just south of Mt. Adams.
  • Lemei Rock: just off the PCT
  • A lovely, unexpected open peak above the trail between Trout and Rock Creek.
  • This isn't the PCT, but we walked right up to it in the Goat Rocks Wilderness on an overnight in August.
  • Almost to the Gorge. There's a fire in the distance that would end up being one of the ones that choked Oregon in smoke a week later.
  • Bunker hill on a day where we were linking up two short sections between longer stretches.
  • Walking down to the Bonneville Trailhead on the last stretch of trail. I've probably walked it a dozen times but Angie hadn't.