The Trail Turns Hot, Then It Turns Hotter
“The heat in the summer is 110. Too hot for the devil, too hot for men.” -Johnny Cash
According to locals yesterday the temp did reach 110 in Oroville. When we walked into town today it cooled a bit, hovering around 100. Joy.
Eleven days and seemingly a lifetime ago we started out of Northport, WA, in section four of the Pacific Northwest Trail. Already at that point we knew heat would be the name of the game for the next two weeks. Early starts and siestas were in, the damp cold rain of the first three weeks of our hike were out.
On top of the heat out of Northport we faced a daunting 40ish miles of road walking to start the section. Most of these are forest roads. Lightly traveled and fairly shaded.
When we got to the start of the trail we were greeted with a nice stretch of blowdowns (yay) and a burned area.
It was about this time that the road walking and the heat were starting to play tricks on our minds when we read a passage from Tim Youngblueth’s PNT guidebook that deviously mentioned that at this point “one could walk from here into Republic in about 15 miles. But our trail continues southward.” Of course at this point I couldn’t help but think of the glories of town: AC, sheets, pizza, cold beers. How many thru-hikers have followed the Sirens’ call down that road? A few miles and much climbing later I envisioned all the thru-hikers enjoying said comforts. Curse you, Tim! Then I saw some bootprints and realized it’s just the heat (probably).
Oh, and water? Yeah, this is how we get it. Gone are the running streams; now we get to share water out of cattle troughs and (sometimes) flowing springs.
However, as Tim foreshadowed, soon after the trail did get better. Wildflowers, ridge walking, and views.
Then a canyon to walk as we rounded out the south side of the loop around Republic.
Republic itself is a real treat of a town. Everything within a few blocks, great pizza, great brewery, and the local trail angel is the postmaster (ie, you can get packages on the weekend if you ask nice).
After Republic we entered section five and the trees became more sparse and the temps got even hotter. We’re talking near 100.
An epic climb up Bonaparte Mountain led us to the only manned lookout tower on the PNT.
Shortly afterward we got to the Havillah church that welcomes hikers. We got to use the kitchen for cooking and there was a fridge stocked with food for us. Most importantly, it offered shade from the relentless sun.
The last morning as we dropped down in elevation to get to Oroville the sun beat down and the air was full of smoke from a fire in Canada. But we were greeted by the friendliest hotel on the PNT!
One more long, hot road walk to go and then the cooler temps and views of the Pasayten Wilderness await.
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