Panther Creek (in Washington) is one of those hikes that I keep wanting to be more than it is without appreciating what it does have to offer. It’s not usually crowded. It’s not that far from Portland. It can be as long, or short, as you want because it’s part of the thousands of miles in the Pacific Crest Trail. It does have some views when you near the top.
The hot breath of the old growth forest engulfs you with the smell of wild blackberry, strawberry and hemlock while local plant life slowly emerges.
We hiked this on Sunday May 31, 2009 and it was our first super hot hike this year. We needed to conserve water towards the end. Because of this, I resolved to freeze a Nalgene bottle of water for the car, bring our 3 liter water bag, and even add another Nalgene bottle in Mike’s pack for summer hikes. Going thirsty not only makes you crabby, but also runs you down for the rest of the day. Another thing I’ve started to do is fill the water bag 1/3 of the way and freeze that. Such a big chunk of ice cools your pack for most of a long hike and melts by the end of the hike. You can always suck on ice if it doesn’t melt. But this is rare in the Pacific Northwest July and August hikes.
The not-so good things about Panther Creek are that the creek is in the beginning, and there’s no true water sources for the entire trail. It also feels like you don’t have a destination, because you really don’t. So, if you’re up for a hike that is more about the journey than the destination, pick up a PNW plant identification book, such as Handbook of Northwestern Plants, bring lots of water, and hit the Panther Creek trail.