Sep 8, 2013, Refuge from the Storm
[Submitted by Virginia Rohr from New Hampshire who was following her brother-in-law's trek on the Pacific Coast Trail. This is what he said about Trout Lake:]
Just after we crossed the Columbia River into Washington the storm clouds gathered. The first night, we were on an exposed mountain ridge completely in the clouds, everything turning wet around us. The morning brought rain that never stopped. The dense forest dripped huge drops on us. Everything is hard in a steady rain, eating lunch, eating a snack, just trying to take a break. It rained. It still rained when evening came and we had to set up the tent. You must keep the inside of the tent dry or you cannot stay outdoors long. Usually things do get pretty wet, but you can dry them the next day.
The next day came with the same steady rain from the day before and the night. It is hard to break camp and keep things dry. The rain went on, all day, again into the evening and night. If tent and equipment are wet from the first day the second night is miserable: sleeping bags are getting wet from the wet tent, clothing is wet and cold; there is no refuge.
There are three roads from the PCT to the little town of Trout Lake at PCT mile 2207, at 2222, and at 2237. Mile 2207 is a very hard hitch because it is a small, dirt road with little traffic, but thru-hikers were getting desperate for an exit to town. The third day of rain had soaked most tents and equipment, clothing was wet, there was no continuing. A small group got a ride at mile 2207 and arrived in Trout Lake looking more trout than human. The woman who runs the General Store saw them and said, here are the keys to my Toyota Tundra, go get the others who look as bad a you. The Toyota returned with 15 more drenched hikers. 30 hikers got down from the storm, but the town’s motels were already full from a wedding and other events. The town came to a full rescue. A phone tree found private homes who would take hikers. The Jonah Mission school opened its gym, its locker rooms, and the kitchen. They fixed meals, people brought food. A retired geneticist who lives in town took in 10 hikers on short notice and cooked them all burgers from beef he raises himself and then broke out several bottles of his own fruit brandies. The hikers learned this was no ordinary storm, records for rainfall had been broken, but they were now safe and could dry out. Everyone in Trout Lake was incredibly kind and helpful. The mission drove a 15 passenger van to mile 2237 and left the keys so thru-hikers still in the storm could gather and drive it to town. Trout Lake, Washington, has become part of PCT thru-hiker lore.
Lynn and I did not know about this until tonight. We had passed PCT mile 2207 headed for 2237. From days of continuous rain on our “round the world” year long bike trip we worked out ways to keep a tent dry while setting it up or taking it down. The continuous days of rain were hard on us, but we continued to drip along at 20 miles a day. Twenty some of the Trout Lake refugees came back to the trail today and we are all gathered at a stream side camping spot, 18 tents, eating dinner and chatting. The stories of the many ways that the people of Trout Lake helped the hikers are going around. Lynn and I will join some others and take the Jonah Van into Trout Lake tomorrow. We got a room in town and just want to spend a day enjoying a town so hospitable to thru-hikers.
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