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2 Triplogs
Sep 30 2015

 Guides 34
 Routes 249
 Photos 2,196
 Triplogs 591

35 male
 Joined Aug 16 2006
 Portland, OR
Eagle Creek Trail to Wahtum LakeNorth Central, OR
North Central, OR
Run/Jog avatar Sep 30 2015
Run/Jog27.10 Miles 3,992 AEG
Run/Jog27.10 Miles   7 Hrs   29 Mns   7 Secs3.62 mph
3,992 ft AEG5 LBS Pack
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
Since I have been getting back into trail running this year I have wanted to see how far I can push myself. Eagle Creek to Wahtum Lake was the obvious choice for a super long run. Having hiked the whole loop last summer, I knew there was ample water and that a majority of the trail was runnable.

I set out from Eagle Creek at 1030. There was plenty of parking at the main trailhead and not many people on the trail. The sun was shining and it was in the low 60s. My legs were already a little sore from Sundays race and doing squats earlier in the week, but I knew if I just kept a gradual pace they would eventually warm up.

This was to be my first trip using the Sawyer Squeeze to filter water. I carried a 16oz water bottle in the front of my running vest to drink from. My plan was to stop every half hour or so- quickly drink from the Sawyer, then pour the remained of the filtered water into my bottle and run on to the next water source. This way I would never have to carry more than 16oz and I would get plenty of short breaks.

The plan was fool proof, or so I thought, all the way up until mile 2 when disaster struck. While drinking on a remarkably smooth stretch of trail next to punch bowl falls I lost my grip on the water bottle cap and sent it flying. It landed on the trail several feet ahead of me, rolled 5 feet, then made an abrupt 90 degree turn and launched itself off the trail. Instead of landing somewhere that I could easily retrieve it, the cap fell through dead-fall and landed on the edge of a rodents burrow. As I reached through the mass of tangled tree branches to try and retrieve it, the cap slid further into the burrow and out of sight. I spent several minutes, elbow deep in the dirt trying to retrieve it, but to no avail.

At this point I really didn't know what to do. I could run back to the parking lot- but I knew I didn't have any similar bottles in my truck. The only bottles I had were liter bottles that wouldn't fit in my front vest pocket. And the sawyer squeeze is too oddly shaped to fit in the front pocket of the vest either. Not wanting to turn back 2 miles into a planned ultra run, I decided to forge ahead, just carrying the bottle in my hand with no cap.

I like having my hands free when I run. Maybe its the impending feeling that I am always about to fall, or that it impedes my occasional dance moves as I sing along to Lady Gaga, but I can't stand carrying a water bottle. I worked out a compromise with myself where I would carry the water bottle for a couple of miles, then once the liquid was only about 2 or 3 inches from the bottom, I could leave it in the vest pocket as long as I ran carefully and didn't bounce too much. This worked for a couple of hours until I gave up on the bottle entirely. I decided to just act like a camel and drink as much water from the sawyer squeeze every time I stopped. This definitely wasn't ideal- every time I left a water source my stomach was so full and I felt like vomiting, and I tend to run too long between water sources that by the time I stopped at the next one my tongue was dry and I felt sick... but I made it work.

Beyond the water bottle issue, the rest of the run went great. I was able to find a good rhythm and felt like I kept a pretty good pace given the distance, elevation, and nature of the trail. Recently the longest I have run was only 12 miles up to Tunnel Falls and back. And the longest I have ever ran was 18 along the Bear-Sabino Loop and that was almost 4 years ago now! Both distances that I completely destroyed today!!!

I wore compression sleeves on my legs for the first time on this run. I have no idea if they actually helped or not. But I sure felt super cool sporting them on the trail, and they definitely helped protect my legs when I fell coming down the hill from Wahtum Lake.

This was my also my first time using the Sawyer Squeeze and the Fastpack 20. Both worked beautifully. I love that I can stop and drink filtered water from the creek and be back on the trail in just a couple of minutes. So much easier than pumping the water! And the Fastpack 20 is great- it had more than enough room for everything that I was carrying, and all the pockets in the front make it super easy to grab anything that I needed.

GPS showed moving time as 6:35 and stopped for 54:25.
May 22 2015

 Guides 2
 Routes 4
 Photos 3,873
 Triplogs 362

47 female
 Joined Feb 12 2008
 Tucson, AZ
Eagle Creek Trail to Wahtum LakeNorth Central, OR
North Central, OR
Backpack avatar May 22 2015
Backpack28.90 Miles 4,350 AEG
Backpack28.90 Miles3 Days         
4,350 ft AEG
 no routes
1st trip
Partners none no partners
In May, I attended the International Trails Symposium in Portland, Oregon to give a presentation about my work with the Warrior Hike program that puts veterans with PTSD on the National Scenic Trails to "Walk off the War".

After the conference was done, I had scheduled some time to explore the area. Lucky for me, my gracious hostess and good friend Kimberlie Dame had the same days off, so we planned on going backpacking in the Columbia River Gorge. Hard to believe, but I'd never been backpacking outside of Arizona before- dayhiking, yes- but not backpacking! Years ago, I'd seen a picture of Kimberlie at Tunnel Falls and was mesmerized by the exotic beauty of the place. We put together a loop that went up Eagle Creek to Tunnel Falls, to Wahtum Lake to intersect with the Pacific Crest Trail to Cascade Locks and the Bridge of the Gods which marks the WA/OR border, about 29 miles.

We made a quick stop at Multnomah Falls on the way out to Eagle Creek Trailhead. It was Friday of Memorial Day Weekend and we wanted to make sure to secure a campsite- this area is very popular with both dayhikers and backpackers. I started out with a liter and a half of water, probably the least I've carried in a long time but still overkill in this wet and overcast environment.

The trail was wide and fancy and soon we came to the Metlako Falls overlook and took the side trip, followed by Punchbowl Falls. Everything was so totally different than the desert environment that I'm used to- so many plants and wildflowers that I wasn't familiar with and this strange wet stuff everywhere!

We passed Loowit Falls and then came to an amazing slot pool- it was begging for a return trip in warmer weather with my inner tube floatie. We entered the Mark O. Hatfield Wilderness and the trail was lined with giant ferns and trees dripping with moss. I could hear Tunnel Falls before I could see it- the sweet sound of rushing water dropping a large distance. Then I turned the corner and there it was in all its glory- the giant cascade, the fern-lined tunnel, the mossy columnar basalt framing the pool below. What a place!!

I wanted to hang out for a while and so we set up for a break and watched folks go by while I explored around. After we saw several groups of backpackers, we decided it would be a good idea to go claim a campsite along the creek. We hiked a short distance away and found a wonderful spot for the two of us. It was close enough to Tunnel Falls that I went back for another visit which included a dance party for one in said tunnel. I could hear the soothing sounds of the creek as I went to bed.

In the morning, we had a leisurely start and continued climbing up Eagle Creek. It was outrageously pleasant hiking, winding back and forth across the creek before ascending the Benson Plateau. As we gained elevation the scenery and the vegetation changed and we hiked into a misty cloud. So very Pacific Northwest- exactly what I had been expecting.

We ascended the gentlest switchback I've ever seen and then reached a sign for the PCT. My first time on this legendary trail! All day, I'd been making jokes about having a hot dog at a Memorial Day BBQ when we got to Wahtum Lake, but alas, there were some campers, but no hot dogs. Our view of Wahtum Lake was confined to the first two feet off the shore.

The trail climbed toward the Chinidere Mountain junction, which is supposed to have amazing views of five glaciated volcanoes- we took a pass because there would be no views today. It was a long day of hiking and we were famished when we reached our campsite. When we'd started, we weren't sure if we were going to spend one night or two out. We had enough food for two nights, but just barely- it would mean hot oats for dinner. Now I haven't been able to even look at a pack of oatmeal since my thru-hike last year, but I devoured those hot oats like they were my favorite dish! Kimberlie was nice enough hike down to Teakettle Spring for water and I played around with my headlamp and took pictures. We were amazed to find that we had taken the exact same picture of the trees above our campsite.

I slept well, even though it was punctuated with wet "plops" from the misty trees on my tent. The trail descended steeply down the hill and then came to a sweet open ridge where the clouds parted and I got a quick view of the Columbia River. Before long, we were below the mist in the big green ferns again.

We reached the Gorge Trail and took it to the Bridge of the Gods, but instead of crossing it, we immediately went looking for food. After a half-hour wait at a roadside burger stand, we ate and drank milkshakes and managed to score a ride back to the Eagle Creek TH with some friendly vacationers. It was a stellar introduction to backpacking in the PNW and I can't wait to explore some more!

I am really looking forward to returning to Portland in September, when I will be giving a presentation on the Arizona Trail at the American Long-Distance Hiking Association-West (ALDHA-West) 20th Annual Gathering. I have plans to explore Olympic National Park while in the area and look forward to carrying only a tiny bottle of water again.
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WARNING! Hiking and outdoor related sports can be dangerous. Be responsible and prepare for the trip. Study the area you are entering and plan accordingly. Dress for the current and unexpected weather changes. Take plenty of water. Never go alone. Make an itinerary with your plan(s), route(s), destination(s) and expected return time. Give your itinerary to trusted family and/or friends.


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