18,000 Miles Reached on PCT Hike west of Panther Creek TH

2021 Hike # ; 97

Hike Distance: 8.5 miles

Elevation Gain: 1114 feet

Yearly Hike Distance: 787.1 miles

Yearly Elevation Gain: 92,794 feet

As of about two weeks ago my wife and I have been fully vaccinated for Covid19! We both had the Pfizer/BionTech vaccine, but are still masking, for those that can’t, or haven’t been, vaccinated yet. My wife had minimal vaccination symptoms and I had flu-like symptoms for about a day. To be honest, the Shingrix vaccination, for shingles prevention, was much worse!

As a result of being vaccinated, we’ve gotten much more optimistic, and adventuresome, about future hikes and have been venturing out onto normal hiking trails. We’re still visiting forest roads, because there’s more solitude, but we’ve planned some exciting vacations for the remainder of the year, and hopefully we won’t have to cancel them, for some unforeseen issues. In addition, we plan to begin providing trail magic, on the PCT, later in the summer! I’m hoping to provide more blog updates as these hiking events occur, so stay tuned. 🙂

Today’s hike was a special event as I knew we’d pass through a lifetime total of 18,000 miles!!! To mark this special event we planned a special hike, on the PCT, west of Panther Creek in Washington state. There’s a nice parking spot off of forest road NF-65, and we pulled right in. There was a large amount of traffic on NF-65, as this was a Friday, and people were grabbing camping spots before the Memorial Day weekend started.

Let me preface this trip report by mentioning that the weather was outstanding, which made us think that the trail would be crowded. However, and this is a spoiler alert, the trail was mostly empty, except for one couple that we saw down along the Wind River shoreline.

Our plan was to head west (south) on the PCT from our driving location. However, Panther Creek is only about 0.25 miles east on the PCT, and it’s well worth visiting. So we walked east and reached the incredible beauty of Panther Creek and its shallow crystal clear waters. We spent a short time on the sturdy bridge above the creek, and down along the bank of the creek. The lush vegetation only made this place more beautiful. If you add to that the old growth trees that surrounded the trail section that leads up to the creek, then you get perfection. This is a special place (and there’s not much water beyond this if you hike north on the PCT, for many miles).

Leaving Panther Creek, we headed west for about 2.5 miles, before reaching the Wind River, and its incredible long arching bridge. The 2.5 miles of trail, before reaching Wind River, is lush but overgrown. The PCT in this area needs brushing out, and in a bad way. It’s obvious not much foot, or horse, traffic has been here in a while, and mother nature is trying to eradicate the trail. haha I would normally be a bit concerned about ticks, in such high brush, but we wear a full outfit of Insect Shield treated clothing, and it works exceedingly well.

Wind River is quite the sight to behold. Its shallow fast flowing crystal clear water is mesmerizing, especially when you’re at the peak height of the bridge! For all intents and purposes you’ll feel like you’re in the wilderness, except when it gets crowded on the hot summer days. This is where we saw the lone couple during the entire day! 🙂 After many photos we moved on.

Continuing west from here the trail ascends up a nicely forested area, but there are scant views to be found. There is some old growth here, and they’re magnificent! There was a lone fallen tree on this ascent, and it needs to be cleared, but is still passable with a bit of care. It doesn’t take long to ascend this incline, and it was at the top where I reached the 18,000 mile milestone. It was tough not to be a bit emotional. I really can’t believe that this many miles has been reached, and after 14 years of effort. I owe so much to my wife for being there to accompany me, and also be the primary driver to all the trailheads. 🙂 This isn’t her goal, but she has been supportive and helped move me forward. This is a joint accomplishment, and been good for bonding, and experiencing mother nature’s beauty together.

I should also mention that we saw a few different flowers. Lupine and wild roses were our favorite, but there were a huge amount of some white flowers, whose name I don’t know.

We turned around shortly after reaching the 18,000 mile milestone, and the return trip was nice but uneventful. What a fantastic day, and we’re looking forward to many more hikes on “real” trails. :