Day 143 – Eagle Creek

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Day 143: ( 28.75 miles)
mile 2126.25 – 2155

We awoke to a very brisk morning.  Seems that even though the calendar says “Summer”, Fall is definitely in the air.  Today we get to see the fabled Eagle Creek and we’re pretty excited. 

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Salmon berry

We walk on a narrow path that hugs the mountainside which is covered with huckleberry and salmon berry bushes. 

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The trail is mostly shady and we bask in the ribbons of sunlight that burrow in through the trees.  The wind is crisp and conjures up memories of Baden Powell. 

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As we near the Eagle Creek alternative route the trail opens up onto a color field of rock and growing cairns.  From here we see off in the distance, Mt. St. Helens, Mt. Rainer and Mt. Adams.  We reach the alternative apex point and lunch with “Acorn the Elder”, who lives in Washington and tells us the Indian tale of the three mountains.  He has been to Eagle Falls, so he will be taking the “official” route to Cascade Locks.  We take the “short cut” to the Eagle Creek Falls trail.

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It is beautiful, but knee and hip jarringly steep.  Eagle Falls is everything it’s fabled to be.  Pictures can not capture and/or convey the magnificence of its water features. 

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Eagle Falls Creek is a rock lined river worn from hundreds if not thousands of years of earth moving water  Loud, crashing waterfalls, make the air moist and misty.  The trail is lined with vegetation that is thick, green and wet with over spray. 

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Parts of the trail have been cut into the steep rock walls, with steel cables afixed to their walls to provide some measure of “safety” for those not sure of foot…aka. Me.  When we get to Tunnel Falls we meet a 2009 PCT thru-hiker, Joe, who is on a road trip with his girlfriend.  This is his first time back and was his favorite site when on the PCT. 

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Tunnel Falls. Can you find the tunnel opening?

We cajole him into taking our picture, as we are rarely seen together…photographically.  I walk toward the tunnel, hugging the wall and grasping the rusting steel cable from time to time.  The air is wet and if you had a bar of soap one could have had a semi effective shower. 

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The roar of the waterfall is near deafening, like standing on the edge of a commercial airport runway, and is exhilarating. 

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Paul at the mouth of the tunnel

We feel like little kids, who have just entered the gates of Disneyland.  Once through the tunnel, we decide to make a break for Cascade Locks.  This will make for long miles for the day, but it is “early” enough and there are enough day hikers on the trail we are confident we will be able to yogi a ride to town.  The trail to the parking lot is brutal on our feet.  As we are nearing over 25 miles, we feel every jagged rock, (of which, there are many), beneath the soles of our shoes.  We make it to the parking lot and meet up with Joe once again.  Joe offers to take us into town, once he finds his car.  We walk with he and his girlfriend in search of his vehicle, and who should pull up behind us, but Fresh, who has yogied a ride of his own from Ammie, who we saw on the trail as well.  Ammie offers us a ride, Joe too.  We all cram into her car, and promptly put the windows down.  Turns out that Joe’s car was a few miles away on the other side of the Bonneville Dam. 

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Ammie drops us off at the Best Western in Cascade Locks with Fresh who is meeting his parents.  As it is late, and there is only one place open for dinner now, we drop our gear, switch to our Crocs and hobble off to non-rehydrated food…and a beer.  The only place open is the Cascade Locks Inn (diner), and who do we see, but Joe and his girlfriend (for the life of us we can’t remember her name, sorry).  They invite us to dine with them.  We talk about trail experiences and share stories.  They have both finished law school and had just taken their California Bar exam.  They decided to travel through Washington and Oregon while they wait for their results. When dinner is complete, we part ways, but not after they give us a ride back to our hotel.  We consider taking a dip in the jacuzzi, but decide on a hot shower and soft bed.  We will soak and zero tomorrow.

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2 Responses to Day 143 – Eagle Creek

  1. Carl Lifeguard San Clemente says:

    Where would u begin a day hike to Eagle Creek and how far would it be to see the creek and tunnel? Thanks thinking of future hikes..

    • I would start at the Eagle Creek Trailhead, 3 miles west of Cascade Locks. Its about a 12 mile round trip if you want to a little past the tunnels falls, which we recommend. Another hike would be to Buck Peak. The view from their is magnificent. This can be accessed from the Lolo pass trailhead parking area and traverses the PCT

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