PCT Day 122: Tunnel Falls

August 18, 2022

Campsite at Lolo Pass, mile 2115.2 to Eagle Creek alternate to campsite 7.5 miles from junction

13.4 PCT miles

7.5 non-PCT miles

In the middle of the night, Jumbo gently shakes me awake. “It’s raining a little,” he says. “I’m going to get in my tent just in case.” I sleepily hammer my tent stakes into the ground and set up my Duplex just as the gentle patter of rain abates. But honestly, it sounds so nice to be in my tent anyway because I can sprawl out without my quilt and be so much more comfortable. Bad news: it’s not more comfortable because it’s somehow hotter than it was when I went to bed, and the air is sill and heavy and dead. Even touching my quilt is unbearable. I somehow manage to drift off, but it’s not pleasant.

So when I wake up properly in the morning, I am not rested. I am hot and tired and I do not want to hike. But I suck it up and get packed.

Jumbo is not having it this morning, any of it. Tribute tries to talk to him about the day, but Jumbo just replies, “I don’t want any interaction until I get water.” I’ve never seen him like this. It’s honestly kind of refreshing. It turns out he’s human, after all! He does get frustrated and cranky like the rest of us! I totally understand this particular frustration, too. It was miserable last night, and on top of all that, he didn’t have enough water. Not fun.

In about half a mile we get to the water source, a little creek tumbling down the hill between thick leafy plants and bushes. I filter and drink so much.

Today is almost entirely forest ridge walking. We get occasional views back to Hood, but mostly, it is foliage. I’m ahead of Jumbo at first, but he gets impatient with me picking every single juicy huckleberry I see an zooms on. Meanwhile, I’m lost in my huckleberry world and I put on my audiobook. Um, hello. I love this book, The Cat Who Saved Books. It’s like Miyazaki meets Neil Gaiman meets Murakami.

Soon I come upon J and T taking a break at a campsite. I’m relieved because I was planning to stop here anyway. I plop my stuff down and set about making a coffee. Before long, I decide that it’s time for a proper snack, so I make a salami and cheese wrap. Jumbo lies down for a nap and I start to join him. Then Dilly Dally comes up the trail to join us, and we wind up chatting for an hour or so. Eventually, after several hot drinks and a lot of lounging around, we finally get moving again.

It’s lots of forested ridge lines today, AT style. We make it a few more miles before we stop on a log and have a proper lunch break. I have service here, so I book our Airbnb in Portland. I’m SO excited for this break. Trail Days is going to be a lot of fun, as is being in the city with my friends for a couple of days. There’s a hot tub, and we’re really close to both REI and Safeway. I’m going to eat so many Voodoo Doughnuts and spend so much time with my feet on ice.

In the afternoon, we take the Eagle Creek alternate, which is more popular than the actual PCT through this section because it passes by the infamous Tunnel Falls. The trail itself isn’t great at first, though. It’s a very steep downhill in a burn section, and the ground is loose, ashy, and full of trippy roots. We are very over it by the time we get to the water source and take a break. A very out-of-it Jumbo climbs up onto a rock above the water, Golem style. I pick some blackberries on a nearby bush and try to muster the energy to keep going, which is not usually a thing I have to do on a downhill.

Eventually, after some more dusty root-filled delight, the trail starts to be decently walkable. We come around a corner and then there is Tunnel Falls, which we’ve been seeing in our friends’ Instagram stories for weeks now. It is a beautiful sight. The water plunges over a sheer cliff down from the forest and towards a creek running through the valley floor. There is a wall of moss and ferns where the water runs. Behind the waterfall, a tunnel has been blasted out of the rock so that the trail can run through it. It’s absolutely unreal.

We take tons of photos and videos approaching the tunnel, then in the tunnel, and on the other side. The spray from the falls feels amazing since it’s been incredibly hot the last few days. We stand there in the misty fern world for as long as we can until we realize it’s getting late and we should try to get to camp. When we start walking again, Jumbo is really slowing down. He says his Achilles is acting up, which usually happens when the trail is shitty with little pointy rocks like it has been for the last couple of miles. We trudge slowly to the camp we plan to sleep at, but it’s full so we have another surprise 0.6 miles. The next camp is empty save for a hiker who is continuing onwards. I drop my bag down and feel that familiar relief of being done for the day.

Jumbo gets to camp a little after me, and he is not in a good mood. His Achilles is really bad, and he is very over this trail right now. We all set up our tents, crawl in, and don’t get out for the rest of the night. I eat a tuna wrap while watching an episode of The Sandman, brush my teeth, and try to ignore how disgusting my legs are as I crawl in my quilt.

Tomorrow is a town day! And Trail Days! It’s going to be so fun to see people we haven’t in a while, and I can’t wait to see if we can win some free stuff. Then two days in Portland. It’s going to be so nice to actually have a proper rest before the final state of the PCT.

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