Backpacking Oregon: From Rugged Coastline to Mountain Meadow
by Douglas Lorain (Wilderness Press)
© 2007 Douglas Lorain/Wilderness Press. All Rights Reserved.
Although, this route was, ultimately, amazing, we ran into a couple dangerous situations due to lack of water and daylight. ALWAYS TRY TO DETERMINE CURRENT STATE OF WATER SOURCES BEFORE PLOTTING YOUR ROUTE. We decided to press on after Herman Camp to get more miles behind us the first day (planned to complete in just over 2 days. After stumbling across two other hikers trying to filter water from a near-stagnant puddle of water, we learned that there really wouldn't be any water between Deadwood Camp and Rainy Lake. We had to press on the rest of the route to Rainy, which included a BRUTAL climb to Ridge Camp and beyond (again--the Trail Guide references a water source along a path to the east of Ridge Camp, but it was BONE DRY). All in, we did about 20 miles the first day, but with some unexpected detours, extreme heat, waning water supply, we pulled into Rainy Lake in virtually pitch black of night. I would suggest bringing along a detailed map of the area and a compass to correlate with the directions in the trail guide, as directions can sometimes be a bit unclear. Do your research, know your water sources, pack appropriately, and this should be an amazing journey into the wilderness!
Some of the description was slightly confusing. After winding through woods across from the Cascade Locks freeway exit you meet a dirt road but you don't turn left but rather go straight and follow the North Pacific Crest Trail.
The Gorge Loop itself is beautiful and worth while. The viewpoints are spectacular. If you stay at Rainy Lake take a left at the junction and there is a nice campsite that isn't as windy as the one right next to the lake.
All in all worth while, and it was sunny the whole time (end of august)
I walked this route exactly as the author suggested except I completed the loop in 2 days. The elevation gains are mostly gradual and I had no trouble with 20 miles per day (I travel ultra-light with 7-10 pound pack). The author described the route perfectly. The Gorton Creek trail is grown over requiring you to push through thick vegetation in spots. I saw no other hikers and cleared the cobwebs from the start of Groton Creek trail until Wahtum Lake. I spent the night at Rainy Lake. There were tremendous winds there all night. The lakes are not as I was hoping. They are forest lakes, not alpine. This route is really a wonderful loop. I may hike it again some time, or possibly use the PCT instead of the Gorton Creek trail, for variety. Eagle Creek trail has some of the most inspiring scenery in Oregon. Another hiker told me he saw a bear at the junction of Herman Creek and Nick Eaton trails. Since I hike solo, I made noise in that area and so didn't see it.
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