Miles: 2026 to 2058
It was a cold morning up on the ridge. I started with gloves, ear cover and hood up. A cloud sat on our ridge throughout the night, so the tent was wet and heavy.
The day started with a long downhill, so I spent a few hours covered up. The sun provided a lovely warmth, but much of the morning was spent under the cover of large conifers.
On the way down, I felt a new pain in my feet. Sharp, but not strong. Just in between my big and second toes on both feet. I ignored it and kept walking.
We passed a few section hikers and overnighters on our way down to Milk Creek. It was our first silty water source as we headed north to Mt. Hood and its glaciers. It was an interesting crossing as the water was running fast and deep, covering most of the rocks. It took some challenging foot work, but we both made it across with dry feet — the ultimate goal!
On the other side, a trail angel was taking a break with her two sons. She said she usually brought snacks for thruhikers, but there were so few in northern Oregon in July that she hadn’t brought any this time. Instead, she offered us some of her own food. It was okay, I said, we have enough right now.
Later we passed her again and she offered to take our trash. That, I accepted. Anything to lighten the load, even slightly. I doubt a change of an ounce or so makes much difference to my body, but my brain sure likes to think it does.
After we crossed the silty Milk Creek, the big climb of the day started. Eight miles of uphill. We started in the shade. We stopped at a clear-running creek to refill water and rinse socks. The trail has been unbelievably dusty. The ultrafine dirt went straight through shoes and socks and caked to our feet. I took off my shoes to investigate the weird pain between my toes. As it turned out, the constant dirt between my toes had sliced identical cuts at the base of my second toes. Blast. I rinsed them out with a sigh. If my feet could only last a few more days…
About halfway up, the trail entered an open alpine meadow. Lots of false trails took off from the PCT on either side. It was obviously a very popular area that people had walked all over, making their own trails as they went. The fragile alpine grasses were striped.
From there, we kept going up. There were many false summits to the pass we headed toward. More than once we gained a ridge that turned out to be just the shoulder of a higher ridgeline.
Finally, while I was scarfing peanut M&M’s to fuel the climb, we hit the border of the Mt. Hood Wilderness. We were more than halfway to our goal for the day and making fine time. The sun was bright; not many clouds; and we were seeing southbound thruhikers all day long.
The second half of the day seemed long to me, despite our excellent pace. We were on schedule to be at Jude Lake over an hour before dark, which is such a treat! The pain between my toes was getting worse, but I didn’t want to deal with it until we were done walking for the day.
We made it to Jude Lake and had the large campsite to ourselves. We could hear male voices coming from the other side of the lake. Richard made dinner. It set up the tent and cleaned my feet. I love sleeping near water. It’s so nice to be able to rinse my body and clothes of salt and dirt. The cuts weren’t deep or terribly infected. The underlying problem was the dirt dried out my skin so badly that it just cracked like dry skin in winter. I smeared Vasiliene on the cuts and put on clean socks.
The mosquitoes joined us for dinner. We had lukewarm Stroganoff. The fuel canister for our stove ran out. We knew it was getting low and had planned to replace it at Elk Lake. Despite our guidebook saying the resort stocked canister fuel, we found none there. Dinner was edible, but less than pleasant.