Valentino and I headed out for our final 148 miles. We rode from mile 2007 at Santiam Pass to Cascade Locks. We rode a half day Thursday afternoon, a VERY long day Friday, and then got to Barlow Pass late morning on Saturday, where my rig was waiting. I had planned to ride 5 more miles up to Timberline Lodge to have lunch but it had been pouring on us for the last few hours, so I decided to call it a day and drove up to Timberline for lunch. I had heard a lot of stories about how good the food was and it did not disappoint. After lunch, I drove hay and water to Lolo Pass for the next night – my last night on the trail. I camped at my truck that night. The next day was foggy and cold but no rain. We rode 23 miles to Lolo Pass. It turned out to be a beautiful day. We also ran into three people we’d met in the desert but had not seen in 2500 miles and another guy we met in Washington last year. Todd and Cara had spent the morning in the bathroom with us at Sunrise Trailhead. It was great to see them again, and we hiked with them most of the day.
We got to our campsite super early. Valentino roamed around and grazed while I set up camp. Then I stuck him on his highline with some hay and had a relaxing dinner. It was a nice last night. I wanted to get up early because we had 30 miles to do and then had to drive home, but I couldn’t do it on my last day. We didn’t get on the trail until 7am. We had a great last day picking huckleberries as we went along, and we took a long lunch break at Wahtum Lake. We got to Cascade Locks about 7pm and we stopped for a snack before heading across the bridge.
The Bridge of the Gods is an open bridge, meaning it’s like a big grate so you can see all the way down to the water. The woman at the toll booth was very skeptical about me taking my horse across the bridge. I explained to her that we were on the PCT and that I had ridden him across last year. She was very concerned that he was going to “freak out” but agreed to let us cross. We stopped many times to take pictures on our way across. Cars passed us going both directions. Valentino didn’t even blink an eye. He is fine with traffic and was not at all worried about the bridge. We crossed in the dark and rain last year so it was wonderful to see the views and get the full experience of that awesome bridge. We pulled off into a turnout on the other side and waited to be picked up. That was the end of our thru-ride. This year was very challenging. I questioned my reasons for doing it again multiple times, but, at the end of the day, it was all worth it. I have ridden my horse 6000 miles in 18 months and he looks amazing. I am so proud of him.