Total Miles: 1796.8
Far more often than not, the PCT is an incredibly well-maintained and thoroughly modern hiking trail that switchbacks its way up and down steep slopes, rather than taking a more direct and erosion-prone route. Today, however, the “well-maintained” part of that description was called into question.
Traveling mostly through thick forested hillsides around Mt. McLoughlin, we were reminded of how good we’ve had it these first 1700+ miles. For nearly all of today’s 26 miles, the trail was littered by blowdown, large and small. Some more recent and some quite old, trees had been knocked over like so many toothpicks, blocking the trail and turning our hike into an obstacle course comprised of either a series of detours around each or a sequence of moves more reminiscent of an adult jungle gym to climb over them. To make matters worse for the prospect of having these blowdowns cleared for future hikers, most of this section of trail is contained within a designated Wilderness Area. As such, the use of mechanized or motorized equipment to facilitate clearing of the blowdowns is prohibited. However and whenever this work is undertaken, it’s going to be done the old fashioned way: with axes, saws, and a lot of hard labor.
Blowdowns and their slowing effect on our pace aside, we actually managed to make good time due to the mercifully flat trail. High-bush blueberries were once again in abundance, and every now and then I’d stop to pick a few particularly ripe ones without ever having to set foot off of the trail.
The late day scenery after climbing onto a high ridge was a welcome highlight for the final few miles of the day. Though it has been more thickly forested than California, the trail has been more benign in Oregon and what views we have had have been beautiful.