August 14, 2017
Day 102: Mile 1715.2 to Mile 1738
Elevation Gain: 4,000
Elevation Loss: 4,020
Although not very far into Oregon, this far, it had lived up to my rather dull, expectations of it. I suspected that was what the Appalachian Trail would be like… a green tunnel.
Today was rough. My friend from Ashland dropped me off after breakfast and some errands. I didn’t get going until 1230. I really wanted to get to Hyatt lake resort, which has an Ashland address, but was 25 more trail miles and 45 minute drive from Ashland, but it was where I sent my resupply box and new gaiters. Well, I was moving pretty slow, so I knew I wasn’t going to make it to the resort before dark, but wanted to get within a couple miles of it so I could knock a lot of miles the following day.
Well, the days were getting shorter and I was moving slow, so I ended up night hiking. The trees made it a lot darker than the night hiking I had done previously. This made it a little bit scarier. I heard a horrible noise, like a baby being murdered, not that I know or want to know what this sounds like. It was big enough to be breaking branches and getting close to me. That’s the first time I’ve been super super scared of an animal.
I started walking faster and faster. Then I saw eyes like 20 feet from me and I thought it was a deer, but it was lying down and wasn’t scared of me waking by or saying “go away” so I was even more scared. I got about a mile away from it, when I tripped and hit my knee, wrist and my face literally went in the dirt. I might have a fat lip. I got to the campsite and there were people there and I didn’t want to wake them, so I kept going.
I finally found a decent camp site. I decided that I was totally sleeping in the following morning and having breakfast at the resort. I also decided that hiking at night was no longer very efficient, unless there was a hill to climb of some sort. I was a lot slower at night. The hidden roots and rocks caused me to trip more often and slowed me down even more. Lets face it though, it was really because I was scared to hike at night in Oregon.
August 15, 2017
Day 103: Mile 1738 to Mile 1740.2 – Hyatt Lake Resort
My plan was to get to Hyatt Lake Resort, grab my package and hit the trail again. So, that is not exactly what happened you see. As soon as I was given my package, a voice said, “I thought that was you”!
Once I saw the face behind the voice, excitement overcame me and I ran to Batman and gave him the biggest hug ever. I ran into Batman in the desert, hundreds of miles back. We crossed paths on the trail for a couple of days, got to know each other and ended at Kennedy Meadows, where I took off a week to visit family in Vegas and he decided to skip the Sierra and skip to up Oregon. Well, apparently the snow levels were too high in Oregon too and he was offered a job at Hyatt Lake Resort, where he fell in love, so he took the job and was super happy with his decision to do so.
He offered me to shower in his cabin and hang out in the hot tub while waiting for him to get off work. The cabin was the nicest thing I had been in for months. I didn’t have to worry about wearing shower shoes in the beautiful, sparkling white shower and lounged around in the glorious hot tub for hours.
I ate several meals, and I ate a lot, of course! We spent the evening catching up and instead of making me go pitch a tent, he allowed me to stay in the cabin. He was my own personal trail angel and I was so very grateful for his hospitality and generosity. Thank you Batman… I’ll remember that day for the duration of my lifetime.
August 16, 2017
Day 104: Mile 1740.2 – Hyatt Lake Resort – to Mile 1770.7
Elevation Gain: 3845 feet
Elevation Loss: 3900 feet
I had 39 days to complete 910 miles. I had a friend, well a friend I had never met, offer to pick me up before the total eclipse, take me to Bend, OR, to watch the eclipse. I was already at over 90 percent totality, which I thought would be good enough, but whether I would be in an open area, with a view of the eclipse, was a different story. So, I did the calculation and could definitely afford to take another zero for the eclipse! I know what you’re thinking. I was going to take an offer from a complete stranger to get into his car and leave with him for a few days. Well, here is this.
It’s quite odd to me how much I changed in the sense of trusting strangers and people I’ve never met before. It’s hard to explain to people who haven’t thru hiked, or live near one of the 3 long distance trails, but I’m going to make an attempt.
I’m sure your mother and/or father taught you not to take candy from strangers and by golly, never ever get into a strangers car, especially a van with no windows in the back. Well… I can no longer count the number of rides I’ve taken from strangers. I’ve not only taken candy from strangers, but cheesecake, granola bars, chili covered eggs, cereal, chili dogs, and have even taken food from strangers, before getting into their van! I’m sure your friends tell you never to take a drink from strangers, because who knows what they could slip into it. Well… I’ve taken half full bottled waters from people driving by and countless sodas from random coolers in the middle of nowhere. Although my mentality will change when I am no longer on the trail, I have found a new trust in the human race and am grateful for all the wonderful people I met along the way.
With only a few hours of day light left, the trail left the enclosed green forested tunnel and turned into a red dirt trail, surrounded by black volcanic rock, with a spectacular view of Mount McCloughlin (I think) at sunset.
It was a new kind of beauty, which I had not seen on the PCT yet. It was definitely one of my many favorite sunset treks.
I had been looking forward to my Cracker Barrel macaroni and cheese all day. It did not disappoint. Although the cheese sauce is heavy, if I eat it on the first day out of town, I won’t have to carry the weight anymore and it’s so totally worth it. Powdered cheese just does not compare to cheese sauce.
I pitched my tent shortly after sunset, in a forested area. The squirrels were quite active, so I slipped in my ear plugs and off to sleep I went… Until… the loud breaking of branches and vibrations of footsteps woke me up around 330 am. I knew it was a bear. All I knew to do was to make noise. So, I opened up Spotify on my phone and played the last thing I was listening to, the comedian Aziz Ansari. Thank you Aziz for not only keeping me entertained during my hike, but also scaring away the bears.
August 17, 2017
Day 105: Mile 1770.7 to Mile 1796.8
Miles: 26.1 + 2 bonus miles
Elevation Gain: 4,120 feet
Elevation Loss: 2,475 feet
I decided to sleep in. At this rate, I was going to get to the Chemult trail exit, a day before my friend was going to pick me up, so I had plenty of time.
There was an 11 mile and a 15 mile waterless stretch. For some reason, I assumed all of Oregon would be filled with waterfalls and overflowing with water. I wasn’t aware that Oregon was so dry. However, I was quite used to being wrong about the terrain on the PCT.
The trail came to a fork and as I was looking down at my map/GPS, I thought I was following the right route. About 0.4 miles and a couple hundred feet later, I realized I was not on the right trail… I was actually starting to climb the Mount McGloughlin trail. Well poo, that wasn’t fun. As if this wasn’t embarrassing enough, as I was heading back to the PCT, I passed a family on this trail. They asked me how it was up top, and I said, “I’m not sure, I took a wrong turn!”
This wasn’t the only time of the day that I took a different trail. The second time, I stepped off the PCT to take a photo Sky Lakes from a view point and walked to a few more feet to reconnect with what I thought was the PCT. Well, when I reconnected, I missed the turn off for the PCT and all the signs and arrows that clearly marked the PCT. This was a 1.2 Mile mistake. You would think after 1800 miles, I wouldn’t continue to get lost, such as on day one, but here we are.
I saw quite a few sea planes flying over head, through the trees. I wondered where they were going; where they came from.
The gnats were annoying, the mosquitoes were more prevalent, and the horse flies were biting. What a buggy day. “Oh Oregon, I just don’t know how I feel about you; you’re not making a very good impression on me thus far”, I quietly whispered.
There was yet another forest fire in the distance. By the end of the day, a lot of the distance view was hidden beyond the smoke. Even the weather forecast said, “Smoke”.
I was going to keep going to hit 1800 miles by the end of the day, but I was a bit tired of getting to camp, setting up after sunset, eating in the dark and hurrying to get to bed. I decided to stop around 7 pm, next to a nice babbling brook. I took my time making a Ramen Bomb (ramen noodles mixed with mashed potatoes), with an added twist this time… brown gravy. And yes, yes it was delicious. I filled up my water, prepared for the next day, watched the sunset, washed my legs, and slid into my cozy sleeping bag.
It wasn’t long before the breaking of branches again woke me up around 1 am. I turned on my music and tried to go back to sleep, but was either too frightened, or too excited to get to Crater Lake.
You know, throughout the last 105 trail days, there have only been a handful of times I’ve been too scared to sleep, or something has awoken me in the middle of the night. This night and the previous night, were two of those few times. Were there more scary animals in Oregon?! Seriously.
August 18, 2017
Day 106: Mile 1796.8 to Mile 1813.6 to Mile 1819.2 to Mile 1820.5 to Mile 4.6 on Crater Lake West Rim Fire Alternate
Miles: 16.8 PCT miles
Total Miles: 30ish (including trail to Higjway 72, Highway 62 roadwalk, and trail to get back to the PCT to Connect with West Rim trail)
Well, you know what they say… if you can’t sleep because you think a bear is outside your tent, you might as well hike. I’m not sure who “they” are, and they probably don’t say that, but this is what I did.
Another mile marker crossed off the list!
The fire had once again spread to Crater Lake and the part of the PCT going through Crater Lake was closed. There was only one exit point before the closure, which left a very very long road walk. After discussing the options with a few friends I ran into, I decided to go to the closure and find another way around the closure.
I thought once I got to the trail closure, I could trail blaze to the road to do a shorter trail walk. However, the terrain at the trail closure was not in any shape to be trail blazing through. So, I looked on my map and saw a side trail a little over a mile through the closure. I debated going back, but selfishly I decided to keep going, a mile into the closure and took a side trail to the road.
The road walk kind of sucked, as they usually did. It was really really hot and really really smoky. I finally made it to Mazama Village in Crater Lake National Park though. I was eager to do the Crater Rim Trail, which was the designated PCT alternate route.