I started this trip on a hot 90+ day in July with high hopes of dropping over the east side of the cascades to Bend, OR. However what followed was far from.
I made my way to Vancouver on the #6 bus from Portland with the plan of going just outside the Vancouver BNSF yard and catching out on something going east to Wishram, WA (which is about 12 miles east of The Dalles on the Washington side of the Columbia River). From Wishram I would cross the Oregon Trunk Junction across the river and head towards Bend.
When I got to Vancouver I found a nice out of the way spot off BNSF property to wait for a train in the shade. About 30mins after sitting there a BNSF bull pulls up to me in his car and gets out to harass me some since he "received a report of a suspicious looking person with a scanner". After all was said I told him to "fuck off" and he replied with "I'll be keeping an eye on you". I thought to myself that I could just move to another spot and wait there but instead I took the local public transit to Washougal, WA with is just east of Vancouver where I would try waiting at a siding.
When I arrived at the Washougal siding I played the waiting game for a really long time and it got me nowhere. So I opted to hitchhike up the gorge to Wishram and catch out from there and after all it's only about 100 miles from Washougal so I thought I could make some pretty good time. I made my way out to Hwy 14 with my Wishram sign and began to bake in the sun waiting for a ride... Well 6 rides later, 6 hours later and plus one sun burn I had made it the 100ish miles to Wishram.
Wishram is split in two separate sections upper and lower and of course I got dropped off on the upper portion of it. As I made my trek down to the lower half some gangster looking guys pulled up to me and asked me if I need a ride to the lower half and I said yes and jumped in. They dropped me off a few block away from the yard and wished me good luck.
Near the yard there is a park with an old steam engine in it and I picked that cool little wind swept park as a good spot to watch trains and select something. Almost as soon as I sat down the yardmaster came over and sat down near me and light up a cigarette and he said "two rail cop are sweeping trains before they cross the OT Junction" feeling very discouraged I started to walk back to upper Wishram and the Hwy to thumb to Bend or anywhere that isn't Wishram. On the walk up the same guys that gave me a ride down stop by me and asked what happened and after explaining to them they said, "shit man I know a place where trains stop but they are going west". Feeling thirsty, burnt, hungry, and tired I just wanted to get on a train and lay down. They drove me about 4 miles out of town to a waiting train near the river with nothing but piggybacks going west with 3 units at point. We said are goodbyes and I found a nice car on the last third of the train and rolled out my very soft sleeping bag in the shade of underbelly of a piggyback (tractor truck trailer) and relaxed. When I was lying there nothing could have felt better then the cool winds coming in off the river.
As I was lying there I heard the engineer over my scanner ask dispatch if he should tie down the train because he was 9½ hours into his 12-hour shift. Dispatches replied with "no we will get you to Vancouver tonight" and before I knew it we were on are way back the way I just came.
With the BNSF dispatch knocking all other trains into the hole for the train I was riding on so that they could get it to Vancouver that night I really couldn't be upset riding though the beautiful Columbia Gorge at sunset. A beautiful sun, 9 tunnels, and bunch of little towns later I was back in Vancouver.