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  • Gillian Larson

Three-fingered Jack (and tire jacks)


It was nice to have a much shorter ride of only 18 miles to finish out the day yesterday, as we rode beneath the sharp outline of Three-fingered Jack back to the Bombshelter, which was patiently awaiting me at Santiam Pass. It felt like almost a lifetime ago that I had left it there after getting sick at Sisters and then facing that mad dash of over ninety miles in fifty hours to make up for the lost time.

I loaded Shyla into the trailer and drove into Sisters to the Graham corral again, then went into town where I managed to get a shower at a campground and then had dinner (NOT ribs this time; I stuck to Mexican food, which seemed safer!). Then the next morning found us driving north, heading for the Cascade Locks area. I wasn't in a hurry, as I wanted Shyla to have a chance to rest a bit today.

We were going to camp a little north of Cascade Locks on a dirt road on the Washington side of the Columbia. Back in 2014 my mother and I had discovered to our dismay that the camping options near this part of the trail were very limited, and we actually ended up stealth camping overnight at a couple of places where we probably shouldn't have, but we felt we had no other option. There used to be a horse camp right near here, on the Oregon side, but it was closed in 2014 and is still closed now for some reason. The first time we tried it in 2014, we ended up at a trailhead after midnight and camped there after a couple of police officers suggested that they would do it if they were us (we had asked them to suggest someplace else, and they couldn't); the second time we just stayed at the closed horse camp, which still had perfectly good corrals in place, and didn't get caught. But after that we found the dirt road on the north side of the river where the PCT crossed before the Bridge of the Gods, and we left a truck and trailer there once and I camped there overnight another time.

So I was headed for the same dirt road and the same camping spot now. However, when I got there with the big Bombshelter rig, the turnout seemed smaller than I remembered, and I thought I would try to find someplace else for the night. Big mistake. After driving a little further down the dirt road, I came to a locked gate, and I had to back up for over a quarter of a mile until I came to a grassy field where it looked like I could finally turn around. The grass must have obscured some abandoned trash, though, because as I backed the trailer into it I ran over something sharp that slashed the two tires on the left side of the trailer; as soon as I pulled out of the grass, I could see that one of them was completely flat, and the other was damaged.

Now I was really in a pickle, as I only had one spare tire. I called AAA and they sent a truck out to change the tire for me; they thought if I drove very slowly and carefully I would be able to get into town to get the other one replaced, but I would have to go all the way to Hood River, Oregon, to do it. And I certainly couldn't do it that evening, or even the next day, as it was late on a Saturday and the stores wouldn't be open. So I put my mom to work trying to find a tire shop that would be open the next week when I returned to pick up this rig again, and I prepared to hit the trail the next morning.

#2016PCT