Friday was set-up for the Pacific Crest Trail Fest days – the main event day being on Saturday. Throughout the day Thunder Island filled up with hikers and their tents, display booths, raffle ticket stations, sign in registers, a movie screen, beer kegs, banners, dogs and sunshine – yes, the weather had radically reversed, and instead of the storm we were supposed to receive, we enjoyed the luxury of lovely warm sunny weather throughout most of the weekend.
Cindy and Eddie and their little dog Pickles were there, and I set up my tent not too distant from them, out in full sun to take advantage of the warmth. Big John was there, and WeatherCarrot, and FlyBy showed up for a short while on Saturday. There were so many other hikers that I had not met – at least 150 folks were present in the audience during the movies at night. The movies were of previous year’s PCT through hikers’ adventures, and were well made and very funny. At one point on Friday night there was a light breeze and the movie screen – at least 6’x 8′ – blew over, which was kinda funny, but you probably had to be there. It was a transparent screen, so you could actually watch the movies in reverse image from behind the screen!
Thunder Island is an amazing setting. In the late 1800’s locks were built along the Columbia River to allow steamboats, paddle wheel boats and all other boats from having to traverse the dangerous rapids on the other side of Thunder Island. Later, after Bonneville Dam was built, the river water rose and the rapids were eliminated, and the locks were partially submerged. Now there is a foot bridge from the river bank to Thunder Island just large enough for one vehicle to pass over, and in crossing this bridge you
can still see the sides of the old locks below. It is now lined with Native American fishing platforms in use of their fishing rights. Much salmon is caught by them along the entire river, and there are salmon sale stations from their trucks all over the place.
On Saturday in the Park near the Visitors Center a gathering of Renaissance-type folk all in full dress were battling out mock fights in a ring with referees and onlooking ladies-in-waiting, airplanes were flying over the Columbia River, a gaggle of small sailboats were racing, the paddle wheel boat was departing back and forth for breakfast, lunch and afternoon sightseeing tours, fishing boats were speeding through the locks on occasion, barges were plying the middle river with their large loads, wind surfers were careening across the choppy river waves, a large white passenger boat was chugging its way downstream, people were fishing along the banks of the locks, dogs were chasing frisbees and sticks, people were drinking keg beer and lying around on the grass, and hikers were still wandering into camp from the trail. Thunder Island and Cascade Locks in general was a massive hubbub of activity.
The biggest event of Saturday, and the one everyone was waiting for and attended “en masse,” was the Raffle. A ton of great gear was being raffled away, and the drawing of the winning numbers was held at 4:30 in the afternoon. Hikers won all kinds of items such as backpacks, state of the art walking sticks, ultra light camp stoves, trail food, hats, tents, bear canisters, ultra warm camp booties, camera cases and more. Yours truly won a pair of MicroSpikes (for walking in snow or ice which I don’t plan to do). It was quite the give-away, and several people seemed to win much more than any of the others, most likely because they bought reams of tickets in comparison to the 20 tickets most other people purchased. It was great fun, and after that another beer keg was popped and the movies started. Laughter at past hikers antics floated all through the evening air.
Sunday was pack-up and move on day, and many hikers were out of the park at a very early hour. On my drive into Portland to deliver Fireman to his rental car and me to go on south to Salem to reconnect with my motorhome in storage, we stopped at the Cliff House overlooking the entire Columbia River and admired the vantage point view.
It was an amazing adventure this August for me – and to have hiked as much as I did – almost 300 miles – and from starting in the shape I was in to the much better shape I’m in now – well, it was simply amazing that an older physical body can stand such abuse and still come out stronger! I miss it already and can’t wait to do more another time.
And now the quest changes. As I prepare for two years of travel around this wondrous world, I will switch this blog to another category – “world travels” – and if you wish, you may follow my adventure again. It’s a joy for me to share these experiences with you, so stay tuned – the rest is yet to come.