Day 1: Rough Start
I woke up at 5am after a late night of last minute packing and planning tired and wishing I had booked the bus a day later. At 6:30 I was and 8 uncomfortable hours I was in Osoyoss and the beginning of my trip. A 5km walk brought me to the U.S. border where a disbelieving customs officer requested that I show him my maps and route before he let me cross. Once that was out of the way it was back to walking the hi-way. An hour I made to Oroville and my official start on the PNT. A quick walk through town and I was back on the road heading towards Whistler Canyon trail.I spent nearly 4 hrs walking road in the mid day heat of the Okanogon Valley and was beat by the time I reached the trail head. I was greeted by a swarm of Mosquito at the trail head so I decided to hike up the trail a bit and set up camp on a windy ridge to avoid the swarm. It was a long day and felt nice to crawl into bed.
Stats: Osoyoos to Whistler Canyon Trailhead. 4hr 33min, 19.7 km, 219m elev. gain
Day 2: The Search for Water
I woke up bright and early only to realize that I was down to less then a litre of water. The map and trail guide both showed the next available water source was over 10 km away. That was a bit to far to hike with so little water. I decided to backtrack to a side trail that led to a small pond, unfortunately for me my maps were wrong and it was nothing but a dried up mud patch. I decided to head back down to the trailhead and rethink my options. The ironic part is that there was a large river opposite the trailhead that flows parallel to the hi-way. Unfortunately, it was inaccessible due to the dense brush and steep banks. Luckily for me the local farmer was watering his field with sprinklers so I decided to collect some water from there and shower at the same time. I wasn’t sure if it was safe to drink but I was the best I could do without hiking back to the bridge before Oroville. Once refilled I headed up the trail. 15 minutes past my initial campsite I came across a sign ” alternative route with stream crossing”. I spent 2 hours this morning trying to get water when all I really had to do was hike 15 minutes up the trail. And not only that but there was plenty of water available for the next 10 km. So much for a reliable trail guide. The rest of the whistler canyon trail was great. Views were beautiful from the ridge top and made for a very pleasant hiking. I saw several deer, two snakes and my first wild turkey! By mid afternoon, I made it to my intended destination at Summit lake. Unfortunately, what was written about the campsite and what was actually there were two different things. I decide to keep hiking further and see if I could find a better camping site somewhere along the trail. AN hour later, I had the option of taking one of two routes. Unfortunately I took the “recommended route” and it turned out to a be a bad decision. The route forced me to hike an extra 15km before I could find a decent campsite. I turns out that the “recommended route” travels outside the national forest. That means private property and no trail or road side camping. Eventually I made it to the Highlands Snow Park at the base of Bonaparte Mountain and set up camp at the trailhead. I had hiked 50 km . It was a long day.
Stats: Whistler Canyon Trailhead to Bonaparte Mountain. 14hr 04min, 49.1 km, 1613m elev. gain
Day 3: Bonaparte Mountain
My first day of complete hiking trail…well 95%. It was nice to be way from the road walking. As I made my way up Bonaparte Mountain, the forest looked like it had been run over by a giant avalanche. Countless trees neatly knocked over in a symmetrical pattern.Views were non existent along the trail so I made a little detour up to the Bonaparte Lookout. Along the short stretch of trail up to the summit, I ran into snow patches along the trail. A cool breezy wind greeted me as I reached the look out. Views were a disappointing as the day was overcast and the lookout tower was locked. Afterwards, I headed down to Bonaparte Lake on a nice trail which was completely different then the western slope of the mountain.Green and clean. The best views of the day came during the last hour of hiking as I reached a open section of trail just before the lake.
Stats: Bonaparte Mountain to Bonaparte Lake Campground. 9hr 38min, 29.6km, 1156m elev. gain
Day 4: It Was Bound To Happen
The day started out with a long road walk from Bonaparte Lake to the end of Cougar Creek road. Part of the road passed through some nice farm land which led to some great photo opportunities but then it turned into a dull featureless road surrounded by brush and trees. At the end of Cougar Creek road I came to two gated roads signed “Private Property, No Trespassing” and no trail in sight. I searched the area for a while but constantly came to dead ends or a private property fence line. It was time to regroup. I walked down to the creek, a few meters from the road, checked my maps, checked my gps, checked the guide. and concluded that the PNT actually crosses private property! As I stood up to pack my gear, I heard some rustling in the bush. I though it was another deer but it turned out to be a small brown, black bear. My first encounter! It crossed the road and headed up hill before stopping to take a quick glance at me before it disappear into the bush. Time to pull out the bear spray. I hopped the gate and made my way down the road. My assumption about the PNT trail was right and I was quickly back on track after some short lived trespassing. The trail to Clackamas Mountain was nice. It was a mix of tall grass and sparse pine trees. Views were limited but a fun forest hike nonetheless. I set up camp on an open ridge just before Sweat Creek to avoid the hi-way noise and fell asleep to the soothing sound of cattle calls from the valley below.
Stats: Bonaparte Lake Campground to Clackamas Mountain. 11hr 9min. 35.3km, 1194m elev.gain.
Cougar Creek Rd
Cougar Creek Rd
Day 5: Wasted Beauty
After a steep downhill hike to the valley I had a decision to make. Take the main PNT route along forest service road or take the longer alternative trail. I chose the alternative.It started out very promising, nice trail, several deer and then a dead end. No trail. I spent the next several hours hiking cross-country, occasionally finding over grown forestry roads or short trails. I abandoned my maps and GPS route and went by compass knowing that I would eventually cross the main PNT route on the forestry road. Luckily the terrain was cross-country friendly and made for a fun few hours of random forest hiking. Once I got back on the main PNT route it was all road the rest of the day to Swan Lake. At one of the road junctions, I turned the corners walk a couple of meters and then saw a bear walking towards me. We both stopped and stared at each other. I took a picture before saying “hello bear”, at which point the bear ran off into the forest. 2 bears in 2 days! At least there’s something along these otherwise mundane road walks. The unfortunate part was that the surrounding forest had so much potential for great hiking yet somehow the architects of the PNT decided that walking the forestry roads is the best option. If the trail that ran parallel to the road, the whole experience would be that much better but after 30 years of planning this it all you get with the PNT, a long uninteresting dusty road walk.
Stats: Clackamas Mountain to Swan Lake. 12hr 55min, 42.6km, 1032m elev. gain.
Day 6: march of the one-eyed pirate
After a night of thunder and lighting I woke up with the realization that something was wrong. I reached for my camera so that I could take a photo of my face. I looked at the image and my left eye was swollen. It seems that the pine branch that hit me in the face yesterday did more damage then I thought, fortunately I would be in Republic by the end of the day which a big enough town to have a hospital. My morning hike to civilization began with more road walking. I took a detour to Ferry Lake and a short cross-country hike before resuming my road walk. Eventually I made it to trail #25 just before 10 mile campground. It was a short 2 mile trail but so nice. Great views of the sanpoil canyon. But, as typical of the PNT so far, the beautiful moments end quickly and I was back to more road walking. 15km of narrow shouldered hi-way to Republic and my first resupply. Walking the road felt a bit like a drunk driving sobriety test as I walked along the white shoulder line with one eye closed trying to alleviate the swelling and irritation. When I reached town I was so happy and felt so beat up. Both my feet were sore, I had 3 blisters, multiple cuts on both legs, my knee was aching and my eye was sore. The exciting life of a through hiker. After acquiring some accommodation and buying food for my next section I ended my day by lying in bed with a large pizza watching the Stanley cup finals. Ahh, the comforts of civilized life. Warm shelter, abundance of food and an endless stream of stimulation.
Stats: Swan Lake to Republic. 9hr 21min, 34.9km, 534m elev. gain.
Ten Mile Creek