• Tenley Lozano

Pacific Crest Trail, Washington (Day 1, August 2016)

Updated: Mar 27, 2019

The start of an 80 mile section hike from near the Oregon border to White Pass, Washington, August 2016.

Day 1: Driving to the trail and hiking in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest, lands of the Chinook and Yakama people.

The summer air was cold on my face as we sped into the state where I’d be spending the next 6 weeks backpacking and camping. As we crossed the Columbia River, the bridge grating of the highway rumbled underneath the car. I leaned out of the passenger-side window toward the rushing blue water that separated Oregon from Washington and my anxiety turned to excitement. I saw Elu’s furry face in the side mirror, her blond snout sniffing enthusiastically, and I grinned at her reflection.

The photo is taken from the passenger side of a car as they are about to drive on the two-lane grated road under the gray steel beams of a large bridge.
The Bridge of the Gods from Oregon into Washington.

I'd made the last minute decision to skip a 23-mile section of the PCT from Panther Creek Road to FR8851. I didn’t have enough time or energy to physically train as much as I knew I should, and didn’t trust that I could make the climb out of the Columbia River gorge at the Oregon border and up the Washington side and still get to the food resupply in time. I was feeling out of my depth, even though I’d just given myself the flexibility to rest and stretch the mileage out. I hadn’t planned any more than 15 miles for any day, making it an 80 mile trip in 6 full days and two half-days.

A young and thin white person is standing at a trailhead wearing a bulging blue pack and holding hiking poles. A blond dog wearing a red pack sits at her feet.
Me and Elu about to start our section hike.

We arrived at the spot where the PCT met the road by a muggy lake in the late afternoon and started off on the trail as shadows were beginning to cool the forest route. That first night, we hiked 5.3 miles from road 8851 and camped at Trout Lake Creek, MP 2221. Elu and I reached the campsite at dusk shortly after three men, Dozer, Double Double, and Pegs. The first two were near the end of their thru-hikes, having cranked out 25 mile days since spring in southern California. Pegs was hiking south from Canada and near the end of his state-long section. We chatted a bit by the campfire before settling into our tents for the night.

A blond dog walks at the edge of a road toward the camera with one ear up and one ear flopping and wearing a red pack. A young woman wearing a big pack walks behind the dog.
Elu leading the way for a week of hiking on the PCT.

Day 1: hiked 5.3 miles from road 8851 and camped at Trout Lake Creek, MP 2221.

Elevation change: up 419 ft/ down 1023 ft

Campsite elevation: 3318 ft