Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Day 118- Obsidian Prohibition

Aug 28, 2016
Horseshoe Lake(1940.9) to Stealthsite(1971.4) 30.5 Miles
Total up/down:+4,272/-3,093 feet 

Today was a pretty cool day. It was also my first back to back thirty plus mile day. It really kicked my butt. I struggled to make miles all day. Usually I knock out 9-10 miles in the morning before I take my first break. I only made it four miles this morning before I stopped for second breakfast. After stopping so early I knew it was going to be a long day. 
Cool little meadow area

Today is one of the only times this entire trail that I wish I was carrying paper maps. It wasn't for directional purposes that I needed maps for. I couldn't identify the mountains that I was hiking around. There was a really neat mountain next to South Sister, for awhile I thought it was South Sister, that I wanted to know the name of. 
Unidentified mountain

I really thought this was the South Sister until I came around a corner. There was no mistaking which one was the Sister. 
South Sister

I was really hoping I could get the perfect angle, where all three Sisters would be visible, but that didn't happen today. Hopefully tomorrow they will line up for me. 

I took my lunch break next to Sisters Mirror Lake. It was a popular lunch spot for thruhikers and day hikers. I struck up a conversation with two really nice ladies from Bend. They tried to help me identify some of the features I've been seeing. A few of the mountains I saw are actually called craters or buttes. They also pointed out some huckleberry bushes. I've been seeing them the last few days, but have avoided eating any of the berries. I refuse to eat wild edibles until someone has identified them for me. 
Sisters Mirror Lake
La Conte Crater and South Sister(I think?)

I was really thinking about setting up camp early. I was super exhausted and the idea of setting up camp before dark sounded really appealing. Unfortunately I did not notice until too late that the next few water sources were located in a limited entry area. I was only permitted to walk through this area. There was absolutely no camping allowed. In the grand scheme of things it wasn't too bad. The Obsidian Limited Entry Area was only a few miles long and it was really cool. There were nice streams, beautiful scenery, a waterfall, a tons of obsidian. 
Nice stream
Beautiful scenery
Obsidian Falls 
Tons of obsidian 

I found a place to camp as soon as the limited entry area ended. It wasn't an ideal location, I had to carry water for two miles, due to the insane amount of mosquitos and yellow jackets. As I ate dinner and the sun fully set, the bees went to bed and the skeeters died down. I decided to cowboy camp, mainly out of shear laziness. 
Tomorrow promises to be an epic day. I should be able to see North, Middle, and South Sister, Mt. Washington, Mt. Jefferson, and three fingered Jack! 

How hard to realize that every camp of men or beast has this glorious starry firmament for a roof! In such places standing alone on the mountain-top it is easy to realize that whatever special nests we make - leaves and moss like the marmots and birds, or tents or piled stone - we all dwell in a house of one room - the world with the firmament for its roof - and are sailing the celestial spaces without leaving any track.
- John of the Mountains: The Unpublished Journals of John Muir, (1938), page 321.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Day 119- Miles And Miles Of Destruction

Aug 29, 2016
Stealthsite(1971.4) to Big Lake Youth Camp(1992.6) 21.2 Miles
Total up/down:+2,717/-4,147 feet

Today was pretty epic and very miserable. This section is jam packed with some of the finest views Oregon has to offer, but it also contained lots of things to make my feet angry. I hiked through miles of lava and acres of dusty powdery sand. 

The day started off great. I hiked out in the open and was able to see Middle and North Sister for most of the morning. Unfortunately, I never did get the proper angle to see all three Sisters at the same time. I hiked up a big lava field, gaining several hundred feet of elevation as I went. At first I really didn't mind all of the sharp, pointy rocks. I enjoyed the sharp contrast between the high mountain peaks and the black lava fields. 
Trees growing up through the lava stones 

The trail meandered through the lava fields along the side of Middle Sister. It wasn't until later in the morning that I even realized that I had hiked next to North and Middle Sister. I just happened to look back to see where I had come from and, wham, there they were. 
North and Middle Sister

As I continued hiking I could see other mountains in the distance. I had a pretty good idea what they were called, but I wasn't a hundred percent. Moments later I passed by a day hiker. I asked him what mountains I was seeing in the distance. He was nice enough to identify them all for me. 

Left to right: Mt. Washington, Three Finger Jack, and Mt. Jefferson

For the rest of the hike, which I expected to be easy, I bounced between views of the Sisters and Jefferson, Washington, and Three Finger Jack. I tried to keep my head up so I could enjoy the view, but with all of the lava rocks I spent most of the day looking at my feet. The only time the lava rock path disappeared was when it turned into loose sand. This really made me slow down. 
Miles and miles of rocks 

The looses gritty sand occurred when I was hiking through an old burn area. I swear, today was twenty miles of lava, sand, and burned forest. I've walked through a lot of burn areas, but the scope of this fire was staggering. 
Thousands of acres, gone
View of the burn from up close 

Looking back at The Sisters

With the more difficult terrain today, I just couldn't get into a rhythm. It took me much longer to cover twenty miles than it usually does. I expected today to be a short day since I was going into Big Lake Youth Camp to pick up a resupply box. I was planning on picking up my box and hiking a few more miles, but since I didn't get there until four o'clock I decided to spend the night there. I wasn't sure what to expect, but it exceeded my expectations. They held my resupply box for me with no charge, that isn't always the case. Sometimes it costs $5-10 to pick up a box. They also provide me with a free shower(they even gave me a towel). I missed laundry, but they let me do a load on my own. They had a cute little hut for us hikers to hangout at. I was also invited to have dinner with the campers and their parents. I didn't have high expectations, but the food was delicious. Tonight they served vegetarian curry, with rice, egg rolls, salad, and fortune cookies. Plus, I was allowed to eat as much as I wanted. I had two plates of salad, two servings of curry, and I don't know how many egg rolls. I was absolutely stuffed. This was the last week of camp and they were hosting a retreat for pastors and their families. The pastor and his family that I sat next to were extremely interested in thruhikers. He asked us a million questions. He also took a picture with all of the hikers and then lead is in a prayer. The church camp was a great experience. All of the services that they offer to hikers are free of charge. They do however except cash donations. I thought it was a great deal, so I left a generous donation. I hope the other hikers there did as well. 
Big Lake Youth Camp

 "Do not say, ‘It is early morning,’ and dismiss it with a name of yesterday. See it for the first time as a newborn child that has no name."
 – Rabindranath Tagore

Day 117- Land O' Lakes

Aug 27, 2016 
Lower Rosary Lake(1908.4) to Horseshoe Lake(1940.9) 32.5 miles 
Total up/down: +3,322/-4,002 total 

For some reason I did not get a good nights sleep last night. I kept waking up every twenty to thirty minutes thinking that it was time to get up. Of course when it was time to get up I didn't hear my alarm go off. I wanted to be on the trail by 5:45. I looked at the elevation profile before going to bed and I thought it was possible to hike forty miles today. I would really like to get a forty mile day in before the end of the trail. I finally woke up around six and was hiking by six forty-five. 
Rosary Lakes barely visible through the trees 

Soon after I began hiking it became very clear that I would not reach my goal of forty miles. Every few miles I hiked past pristine beautiful lakes. Once the temperature warmed up I knew that I had to stop and smell the roses(or feel the sand on my toes). I have been working so hard lately to give myself some breathing room in my schedule. Some days it feels more like a job than a joyful experience. I decided it was time to slow down and enjoy myself. 

I hiked really hard until around eleven thirty. I heard that Charlton Lake was a great spot to stop for lunch. It was about fifteen miles away from where I started this morning. I didn't take a single break until I hit the lake. I collected and treated water and cleaned my feet. I also washed out my socks. Then I took my lunch down to the waters edge. There was a nice cool breeze and I soaked my feet while I ate lunch. It was just chilly enough out, due to the breeze, that I decided against swimming. 
Charlton Lake

I took an entire hour off from hiking for my lunch break. I had almost forgotten how nice it is to take a proper break. Between Charlton Lake and my campsite tonight I passed by ten more lakes. They were all right next to the trail. 
Irish Lake

Irish Lake was about six miles away from Charlton. I didn't really need another break so soon, but it was too pretty for me not to stop. I changed socks again, washing out the dirty pair and I soaked my feet again. I mixed up some Gatorade and enjoyed the afternoon sunshine. 

Two miles later I hit Brahma Lake. It was also a nice lake, but it has been loved a little too much. There was trash all around the lakeside campsites. It infuriates me when people throw their trash into fire pits. It would be one thing if they actually started a fire and burned the trash. Some people seem to think that fire pits are trash cans and just leave trash for other people to take care of. 
I packed out as much as I could(my trash bag was bursting at the seams)  

Around mid afternoon I crossed into the Three Sisters Wilderness. I'm really looking forward to this section of Oregon. I was hoping to get a glimpse of South Sister today, but I had no such luck. 
Three Sister

The last big lake that I passed by before reaching camp was Stormy Lake. It was beautiful. I had just decided to go for a swim when I spotted two people already swimming. The woman didn't have any clothes on and the guy asked me if I could keep going. Ok, message received loud and clear. I kept hiking on, but I did have to chuckle. At least they were enjoying the lake. I did however take a picture of the lake, but I made sure to not include them. 
Stormy Lake

I was hoping that the lake I was going to camp at would be as nice as the others, but it was more of a pond than a proper lake. I setup camp as the sunset and ate dinner in the dark. Just as I was getting ready to go to sleep a deer prowling through camp scared the crap out of me. I swear it sounded like a giant bear. 

I didn't get in my forty miles today, but I still managed to hike over thirty miles and have a very enjoyable day. Usually my thirty plus mile days aren't this enjoyable. 

"Just imagine becoming the way you used to be as a very young child, before you understood the meaning of any word, before opinions took over your mind. The real you is loving, joyful, and free. The real you is just like a flower, just like the wind, just like the ocean, just like the sun." 
-Don Miguel Ruiz

Day 116- 1,900 Miles And Hot Dogs

Aug 26, 2016
Summit Lake(1887.1) to Lower Rosary Lake(1908.4) 21.3 miles 
Total up/down:+2,789/-2,649 feet

I was lucky enough to witness the sunrise over yet another lake. While it wasn't as majestic as Crater Lake it was still nice. I really wanted to go back to sleep this morning, but I forced myself out of my tent. I only had to hike seventeen miles before I would reach Shelter Cove Resort. I had a mail drop being delivered there today. I figured that it wouldn't be delivered until after two o'clock. I didn't see the point of rushing to get there and then waiting on my box. I was going to take my time packing up. I even thought about making some coffee, but the mosquitos were atrocious. I hurriedly packed up and headed out around 6:45. 
Sunrise over Summit Lake

I warmed up pretty quickly after leaving camp due to a nice extended climb. It was pretty gradual and I made it to the top without expending too much energy. I had a nice view from the top and as a bonus I had cell phone reception. I checked to make sure my resupply box was going to be delivered on time. It was listed as out for delivery. I downloaded Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows before pushing on. I'm not sure what I'm going to listen to once I finish Harry Potter. 
Big lake in the distance

I expected to drop back down below the tree line and to hike though the forest for awhile. Instead the trail meandered through an area that reminded me of the Sierra. There was even an amazing stream I had to rock hop across. I decided that this was a good place to stop and have second breakfast. I had a few Oreos, a poptart, and drank the blackberry Izze from last night. 
Very Sierra-ish

After leaving here the trail dropped back into the cover of the trees. I was soon lost in my own thoughts. For some reason I stopped to look at my Guthook trail app. I'm not really sure what prompted me to check it. I didn't need to know where the next water source was. I had just filled up water from the stream. It was a good thing that I checked it though. I was only a quarter of a mile away from 1,900 miles. I had completely forgotten that I was going to cross that milestone before Shelter Cove. I looked around for the mile marker, but there wasn't one. I dropped my pack and started looking for materials to make my own. There was an uprooted fern tree close by and a bunch of tiny pine cones. I put them to good use. 
1,900 miles complete

After making the sign and taking pictures, I hurried on. I only had four more miles to hike until I reached the trail junction for Shelter Cove. The resort was almost two miles off of the trail. Unfortunately, there wasn't a way to hitch in. I have to walk it. My plan was to pick up my box, sort my food, shower, do laundry, and head back out to the trail. I was pleased to find out that my package had arrived minutes before me. I had timed it perfectly. Unfortunately, the washer was already in use and three other people were waiting ahead of me. I decided to skip laundry. I also skipped taking a shower. They were charging $1.50 per three minutes. I bought a Gatorade and began sorting and repackaging my food. I decided to buy lunch at the store, but they didn't have much to offer. I decided to buy a few hotdogs. I figured that I could easily eat two, if not more. They were really big hotdogs. Instead of being served on hotdog buns, they were served on hoagie rolls. I could barely finish them. While I waited for my external battery pack to finish charging I repacked my pack and chatted with Mozart and Strider. I was just getting ready to leave when two of my friends from the AT, Cap and Spice, showed up. I thought that they were hundreds of miles ahead of me. It turns out that they had taken some time off of the trail for a few speaking engagements(Cap and Spice are the founders of Packing It Out). I was delighted to see them again. The last time we crossed paths was at Hiker Heaven. Eventually I had to leave though. I still had a few more miles to hike. 

I walked the 1.8 miles back to the trail. I passed by more Thimbleberry bushes. I spent a few minutes collecting berries to eat for dessert after dinner. 
The lake that Shelter Cove is one

I made it into camp around seven o'clock. It was nice to have a little bit more time in camp. I have been hiking until almost 7:30 for the last few days. I managed to find a nice spot on another lake. I took advantage of the lake to wash my socks and running shorts. It wasn't the same as doing laundry, but it was better than nothing. I also rinsed off the dirt and grime on my feet and legs. It is always a nice feeling to get into my sleeping bag after rinsing off. I watched the sunset and was in my sleeping bag shortly after. 
Two nights in a row next to a lake

“The stillness of the early morning scene enables me to take in and enjoy many things which pass me by during the bustle of the day."
 – Rosemary Verey 

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Day 115- Water Woes

Aug 25, 2016
Thielsen Creek Tentsite(1853.5) to Summit Lake(1887.1) 33.6 miles
Total up/down: +3,931/-5,330 feet 

Since the days are rapidly getting shorter I've been trying really hard to wake up earlier. The problem is that I have to rely on my wristwatch alarm, which I usually don't hear. I don't want to set the alarm on my cell phone and wake everyone else camped close to me up. I have naturally been waking up by six o'clock, but I'd like to be up by five thirty. There is light enough out to start hiking without a headlamp by six o'clock. Last night I set the alarm on my cell phone to vibrate, but it didn't wake me up either. I didn't start hiking until seven o'clock. As soon as I left camp I had to cross Thielsen Creek. It reminded me of some of the streams in the Sierra because it consisted of the snowmelt from Mt. Thielsen. 
Thielsen Creek 

The water from the creek was ice cold. I filled up from there last night before I started dinner. Shortly after starting my day I hit the highest point on the pct for Oregon and Washington. From here on out I will be hiking below 7,560 feet. 
Gone are the days of high elevation
View from the highest point on the pct for Oregon/Washington(not exactly awe inspiring)

Once again it was really chilly this morning. I sent home my hiking pants in Ashland. I bought a replacement pair, that I hope will fit better, but I won't get them for a few hundred miles. I've been relying on my rain pants to keep me warm in camp and in the mornings. They have been working out really well. I'm beginning to wonder if I really even need the new hiking pants. I've been carrying these rain pants since Mt. Laguna, roughly 1,820 miles ago, and I haven't really used them. I think I might have put them on one or twice in the desert when it was extremely cold out. It is a good thing they only weigh three ounces. I am shocked by how different the weather has been in the last few days. It is still pretty hot out during the day, although not as hot as N. California, but it has really been cooling down at night. I'm sure by the time I finish the trail the change of weather will be even more pronounced. 

I saw several lakes today, but none were close enough to the trail for a swim. Plus there was a pretty stiff breeze that I don't think would have made a swim very enjoyable. 
Crescent Lake

I didn't take very many breaks today. I have gotten into the habit of taking breaks at water sources, but the trail was pretty dry again today. I had planned on stopping for water at the sixteen mile mark, but I still had one liter left when I got there. The next water was eight and a half miles away. It was a tough decision. I couldn't decided if I should fill up or push to the farther source. In the end my laziness won out. The first water source was .4 miles off trail and down a very steep slope. The second water source was only .1 miles off of the trail with almost no elevation loss. The decision to move to the farthest water source was also made easier by the appearance of, Mozart. He needed water right away and was going down the steep slope for some. Since he was filling up he was kind enough to give me a quarter of a liter. That was all I needed to ensure that I didn't run out before the second source. 

Once I got to the next water source I regretted my decision to skip the first one. It was the worst water source that I have been forced to collect from. I was so glad that I decided to keep my Sawyer Squeeze as a back up. The water report that I check to make sure a water source isn't dry described it as a pond. The report was only six days old. I could tell that it was a pond at one point in time. Now it was just one muddy puddle and one tiny bug infested pool. There were cow, horse, and dog prints in the mud around the tiny pool. Unfortunately, I did not have a choice, I had to filter water from there. The next source was where I planned to camp, 9 miles away. 
Tasted better than it looked

I drank half a liter of the warm, but clear water. Once I filtered it it was fine. I remember having to drink the yellow water in New York and New Jersey. At least this came out clear, even if the source was yucky. I carried a liter and a half with me to hold me over until I got to camp. I was hoping that I wouldn't have to drink it all and the water I would collect at camp would be better. 

I had a bunch of nice views during those last nine miles. I'm really enjoying hiking in Oregon. I spend a lot of time in the shade of the forest, but every once in awhile I pop out into the open and get a great view. It is like the perfect mix of the AT and PCT. Easy hiking, shade from the trees, and good views. 
Clear shot of a cool mountain
Huge lake in the distance

Around mile twenty eight I began to run out of steam. My feet were sore and tired too. I knew it was going to be a struggle to set up camp before darkness descended upon me. I also knew what I really needed were some calories, but I had already finished my daily snack allotment. Just as I discovered that I was out of snacks I came across a trail junction. Someone had left their snack bag behind. I can't imagine that it was a thruhiker. I'm guessing it was a day hiker or section hiker that dropped it along the trail and someone picked it up and put it on the trail junction sign. I culd be wrong, but I was just happy to get some more free food. The trail definitely provides. 
I took the crackers(sealed package mom)

This gave me just enough energy to make it to the lake that I am calling home for the night. I was more than a little dejected when I got to the tentsite and discovered that it was taken by a man, his girlfriend, their truck, a huge 10 person tent, and a vicious dog. I skirted around the dog, while the owners held him back, to collect water from the lake. There was no way I was going to camp here. I asked if they knew of any other campsites in the area. They told me there were a couple more along the lake. I hurriedly pushed on so I could setup before dark. Just as I started cooking dinner the couple and the dog stopped by. They felt bad about the dogs behavior and wanted to make amends. They brought me a Coke, ginger ale, and blackberry Izze. I was so thankful to have not one, but three cold beverages that I didn't even care about packing out the cans. The guy said he is a backpacker and understands about having to pack out trash. He told me to just leave the cans next to my campsite and he would pick them up on their way out. Thanks for having a vicious dog that lunges at people. Without him I wouldn't have enjoyed three ice cold beverages with my dinner. Speaking of dinner, I enjoyed one of my AlpineAire dehydrated meals that I received in my PO box. Thanks Jodi for for dinner. The chicken burrito bowl was delicious! 
Trail magic after a long hard day 
Setup just in time for sunset 

"In life you can never be too kind or too fair; everyone you meet is carrying a heavy load. When you go through your day expressing kindness and courtesy to all you meet, you leave behind a feeling of warmth and good cheer, and you help alleviate the burdens everyone is struggling with."
- Brian Tracy 

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Day 114- Crater Lake Magical Park

Aug 24, 2016
Highway 209(1836.6) to Thielsen Creek Tentsite(1853.5) 16.8 PCT miles + 9.4 alternate miles   26.2 miles total
Pct total up/down:+1,864/-1,384 feet
Not sure about alternate elevation 

What a majestic, wondrous, and fantastic day(is that enough adjectives). Mickey Mouse did not make any more appearances last night. I slept through my first alarm, but I was woken up shortly after it went off by another group of hikers walking by my campsite. I didn't even consider going back to sleep. I packed up quickly and didn't even bother eating before I left. I would have plenty of time to eat breakfast while I watched the sunrise. I made it up to the rim of Crater Lake around 5:45. The sun didn't rise until 6:27, but I wanted to have time to find the perfect vantage point. I also thought that there would be a ton of people around, but there were only a handful of thruhikers. I found the perfect place to watch the sunrise from. As I settled in to wait two other hikers joined me. I set up my GoPro to take a time lapse and enjoyed the beginning of the show. 
Orange and Blue. Two of my favorite colors(Go Gators!)
Sun starting to peak over the rim
Wizard Island lit up
Towards the end

I've had some truly epic sunrises on this hike. I still think Mount Whitney was the best, but this was a close second. Once the sun was fully up I basked in the warmth for awhile. Then I wandered around in Rim Village for awhile. I learned a lot about Crater Lake. It is the deepest lake in the United States, the second deepest in North America, and the tenth deepest in the world. It contains some of the purest water in the world due to its lack of pollutants. There are no streams or creeks flowing into it. It is comprised of snowmelt and rain water. In fact Crater Lake is famous for its deep blue color and water clarity. The lake was formed about 7,700 years ago when Mt. Mazama erupted, leaving behind a caldera. Wizard Island formed from a cinder come that erupted once the lake began to fill with water. I couldn't get a good picture of the second island, Phantom ship, because the sun was in the wrong part of the sky. Before Mt. Mazama erupted it was about 12,000 feet of elevation. The remains of the mountain are what create the rim of Crater Lake. 

I have been crushing miles lately, but today I decided to act like a tourist and enjoy the day. I hiked the Rim Trail for about nine miles before rejoining the pct. I took a million breaks. I sat on the rim overlooking the lake and just enjoyed the view. 
From the Rim Village Overlook
Amazing blue waters
The clarity of the water is easy to see along the shoreline 
Finally got the whole lake in one shot
Llao Rock is evidence of where a lava stream ran down the side of the mountain after the primary eruption 

I took close to fifty pictures this morning. These are just a few of my favorites. I finally left the rim around noon. It took me over five hours to hike 6.5 miles. I didn't really have high hopes of making decent miles today. The only thing that motivated  me to make any miles was the water situation. After leaving Rim Village I was faced with a 26 mile dry stretch of trail. Luckily there were two water caches that help to make this manageable. The Optimist is one day ahead of me now and he texted me to let me know that the caches were reliable. After leaving the rim of Crater Lake it warmed up quickly. When I was hiking on the rim there was a very pleasant breeze and I was very comfortable. I ended up taking a long break at the first water cache. I was tired since I was awake late and up early. Water is also going to be an issue tomorrow. I'm looking at another twenty mile dry stretch. Logistically I had to hike to the end of today's dry stretch to make tomorrow's more manageable. 
Terrain after Crater Lake

The trail after Crater Lake was mostly flat for eight miles. I was able to keep up a fast pace and make up some time. The last six or seven miles of the hike consisted of a fairly decent uphill climb. I was moving pretty slow, but at least I was still walking. 
Rim of Crater Lake 
Second water cache
Mt. Thielsen 

Mt. Thielsen is a popular side trip on the pct. I would have liked to hike up to the summit, but it was getting close to dark and I still had several more miles to hike. I didn't make it into camp until a little before eight o'clock. I setup camp in the rapidly diminishing sunlight. By the time I cooked dinner I had to eat in the dark. 

Crater Lake is definitely one of the highlights of the entire Pacific Crest Trail. 

"Work hard, Stay positive, And get up early in the morning. Its the best part of the day." 
– George Allen Sr 

"Early sleep and early wake up, gives Health and makes you Grow." – Portuguese Proverb