Total Eclipse of the Heart

PCT SOBO DAYS 37-40  |  August 21st-24th, 2017

Sobo Miles 746-831; Shelter Cove to Mazama Village, OR

DAY 37: August 21st, 2017

“THE ECLIPSE”

~17 mi. total from Rosary Lakes to Shelter Cove, to a tentsite at Sobo mile 757.8

Elevation +2,434 ft /-1,924 ft

Today is the day of the Eclipse. Remember all that? It was so talked about and splattered all over the media. There were Eclipse glasses everywhere, stickers, advertisements galore and everyone you talked with had to ask “so, where are you planning to be for the eclipse?” Well, up until just a few days ago, I had no plan. But, I had a pair of Eclipse glasses and I had two great friends with me, and that was all that really mattered. I actually didn’t think much of it until it was almost here.

We woke up late that morning, I slept until 9:15am, and oh my goodness did I ever need that rest. For breakfast, I ate pizza again. It was cold, just like I’d taken it right out of the refrigerator, and it tasted particularly great. I made coffee, too, and chatted with Wildfire over breakfast, remarking about how the trail literally provides. “The trail provides” is a saying you hear out on the trail, and you just have to hike it to experience what I mean.

For example, the day before, Tripsy had told us that she lost her tent stakes a few days before, and on the way up to the Rosary Lakes, she spotted some tent stakes at a nearby campsite. She picked one up and it turned out there were exactly four of them, exactly what she needed, and they were the exact same kind that she had lost! She was ecstatic and seriously a little bewildered as to how this could be real. Wildfire and I kept saying “you just wait, the trail seriously provides”. Later that same afternoon, when we were setting up camp, Wildfire proclaimed that she’d forgotten her TP kit and had nothing to use to go poop in the woods. And she had to go, so I offered her some of my stuff. Off she went into the woods to do her business, and when she came back, guess what she’d found? Yes, an entire TP kit, tidily wrapped in a clean ziploc bag. It was the funniest thing, I mean, who gets so happy that they jump up and down after finding a roll of TP in the woods, except for a thru-hiker? “The trail provides” is really true. Wildfire and I reminisced over breakfast about other stories from our thru-hikes last year, it was great!

The Eclipse was supposed to be at 10:30 am. Though, by 10:00 am, the light was already noticeably fading and we thought we might be missing it, so we ran over to the shore of the lake. The three of us plopped down on the dirt, facing the sun, and put on our glasses. Gradually, the orange orb of the sun shifted from a full circle to the tiniest sliver. The sky took on a gray cast and the glimmer of light reflecting on the water danced in shapes I’d never seen before. We took turns taking off our glasses to observe the ambient light of our surroundings, and Tripsy kept almost looking directly at the sun without her glasses! With the glasses on, you could also see a tiny little reflection of the sun sliver, like a shadow, or a faded mirror, and this also showed up on the photos. I took one of my favorite panoramic shots, too, with Tripsy and Wildfire in the center, gawking at the sun with their Eclipse glasses on, it’s great! We were giggling a lot and just having fun taking photos of the sun itself, each other, and watching the sliver change positions from the South to the East, to the North, before eventually returning to a full circle again. It was actually really beautiful and I’m glad we were so fortunate to view the Eclipse from a 99.7% visibility. Even though it wasn’t all that important to me initially, I felt grateful for the good luck. The trail provides! I’ll take it!

After the Eclipse was over the the daylight returned to almost normal, so we packed up our camp and headed back down the trail to the parking lot where Wildfire’s car was.

It seemed less smoky that morning, and I was happy to saunter down the trail, almost methodically, and admire the beautiful turquoise color of the water at the lakes.

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Back at the Wilamette Trail Head parking lot, we decided to go to Shelter Cove once again, and finish up our re-supplies (and maybe eat again). Back at Shelter Cove, we met some more cool Nobos and indeed ate more food. I had to eat more pizza (so I wouldn’t have to carry it), and I can say at this time, I am pizza’d out! I can’t eat any more of it for a while. I went through my re-supply food in a very detailed and thorough manner, so as to keep my pack weight light, so I could keep up with bigger miles. This was my strategy anyway. By the afternoon, and all too soon, it was time to say goodbye to Wildfire, as she had to get driving back to BC and we had to get back on the trail. I was so glad she made trip down, Thank you Wildfire for sharing this great time together!! You rock girl!!

Tripsy and I walked out of Shelter Cove by about 3pm in the smoke, as it had done what it usually did, which was get worse by the afternoon. Still, it didn’t seem to be as bad as the day before, which gave us hope. We climbed uphill for a while, and enjoyed the still green Hemlock canopy, large rock formations, volcanic walls, sand beds and even some snow fields as we got higher in elevation. We entered the Diamond Peak Wilderness and soon, we hit the 1,900 mile marker, indicating not that we’d hiked 1,900 miles, but that we had 1,900 miles to go! I get silly and excited around mile markers for some odd reason, and this one was no different.

Eventually the sun started dipping closer to the horizon. Since the smoke was still lingering, the sun took on this deep orange radiance and it was quite a sight to see it sinking closer and closer to the top of Diamond Peak. The entire day had a strangely eerie glow of light from start to finish, between the Eclipse and the smoke, lots of cool light things going on. I really enjoyed it. It was a Total Eclipse of the Heart!

We passed the trail junction for the Oregon Skyline Trail (OST), which I took last year as an alternate to the PCT. The OST actually saves 9 miles of hiking, stayes at a lower elevation and goes by Crescent Lake. Overall, the PCT has more elevation change and more miles and does not traverse near any lakes, thus fewer water sources. We agreed to stay on the PCT. I was happy with that choice since I’d done the alternate last year on account of how badly my feet hurt, saving some miles and a long water carry. I always love to see different scenery though, uncharted territory, yay! This Wilderness turned out to be really beautiful! Walking into the fading light of night, I felt warm pockets of air, then cool streams off a breeze, sticky humid air, and mosquitoes. Then, sometimes there was just silence, no moving air, no rustling of the trees, no buzzing of mosquitoes, no birds even. I would sometimes stop walking, and just note the utter silence. It would be this way whether I am here or not, I thought. We hiked 14 miles after leaving Shelter Cove, not bad, and camped at 6,500 feet, where lots of bugs were present and my tent zipper couldn’t close. I noted how particularly dirty I’d become, and embraced it.

DAY 38: August 22, 2017

PCT Sobo Mile 757.8-786

30 miles, including .75 off trail to Maidu Lake

Elevation: +3,300 ft /3,300 ft

I woke up at 5:30am having not slept very well, and had to go poop right away; it’s just something that happens on the trail. I slipped my head lamp on and went into the still dark woods. The mosquitoes were already awake and it was also already smoky. So much for a positive anticipation of getting away from this smoke. Every day is a mystery I tell ya. As I sat in my tent vestibule making coffee I started to question whether I really packed the right amount of food. I did a quick food inventory to double check, and decided it would have to do, unless we were to make a side trip to Diamond Lake Resort, which is not too far before Crater Lake. I’d never been to Diamond Lake, so part of me wanted to go there, but my brain couldn’t really conceptualize exactly what that would entail in terms of mileage and how it would affect our overall itinerary, so I just shelved the idea for the time being.

We set off on the trail by 6:30 am; after a couple hours of hiking, we stopped at Summit Lake for a water fill-up.  As we approached Summit Lake, we were following parallel to a a gravel road that skirted the lake just a bit above the shoreline. I looked through the trees down to the Lake to see the coolest colors on the water, nothing but grey cloud and smoke above the horizon and the sun glowing like a Halloween pumpkin, reflecting on the water. I had the strongest urge to go down there but Tripsy was keeping a pretty good pace. I hated to slow her down, but I couldn’t not stop and take some photos, and couldn’t stop without letting her know, but she was happy to go down there with me. It was something otherworldly, like Transylvania, like something I imagined down on the Bayou, in the deep South. These moments of discovery and newness are important ones on a thru-hike. So often, we see something and want to stop to admire it, take a photo, inquire, it may even be another hiker to stop and talk with. Yet, it is so easy to not stop, it’s crazy. It is so easy to convince yourself that you need to just keep walking. But why? You really do have to pick and choose sometimes. This time, I chose to stop and admire.

I was glad I did. On the way down there, we saw some geese. Tripsy got all excited and exclaimed “Mary Poppins, look, it’s a Swan…or a… Duck…a Swanduck!” Needless to say, we got a lot of belly-aching laughs from this one for days, even weeks to come. Tripsy seriously considered changing her trail name to Swanduck for a spell. To this day, she still goes by Tripsy, but she will also answer to Swanduck, and I think that name suits her real well, and I still like to call her that and laugh.

Soon, we were making our way up the trail again, only to slip back down to an area where there was easy access to the water. While we were there we happened to meet three other Sobos! It was so exciting, more Sobos, hooray!  Angela and Zach, and Shameless. Angela and Zach were a couple from PA, and Shameless was from Napa, CA and he seemed to be always running on the trail, he was fast. Case in point, he came through by the lake, and was at a jog, sweaty, breathless, dirty as all get out, he slowed down to say hello to Angela and Zach, and ran off again. Tripsy and I deemed the three of them as “super-fast” hikers, and figured we probably would never keep up their pace.

After we collected water and set off again, I enjoyed a few hours of solo time on the trail. I love hiking alone, and in silence. When I’m alone, I feel like my soul can breathe, and my whole self can truly relax. I don’t like feeling crowded by another person’s energy, when I’m alone, I don’t hear someone else’s footsteps, and I am not concerned with anyone else’s presence, it’s just me and me. Sometimes, I just need it. It’s not that I was having any profound thoughts or anything super-spiritual was happening, except that I did realize this: the PCT has become my point of reference for everything else in my life, my center point. After thru-hiking last year, everything I did after that was in comparison to hiking (and living) on the PCT. I wondered if that happened to others, too.

The mileage segments we made today were really good for me, the way they broke down. We hiked 6-9-9-6 miles respectively. After the first six, we got water, then another nine and we stopped for lunch. Lunch was an hour, we stopped at the next water source after Steamboat Lake, which was basically a brown mud puddle. But I was glad for it. When we got there, well, Tripsy was ahead of me, Angela and Zach were just leaving the puddle, and Hurl Goat was there too. Hurl Goat was washing off in the water, and I followed suit and got my hot, sweaty feet wet, too. Of course, away from where we were collecting water to drink, I do have trail etiquette! Hurl Goat was sort of quiet, so we didn’t converse much. I was pretty in need of a food break, and as I’d been hiking alone for the past few hours, I was perfectly happy to stay that way. I made tepid coffee with eh puddle water, and let my feet air out in the sun. The next water source was going to be a cache in 9 miles, at the next trail junction for the OST, where it linked up with the PCT on the Southern side at a dirt road crossing.

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The mud puddle water source/lunch spot

As we hiked the next few miles, I didn’t mind that they were mostly downhill on an easy grade and was able to keep a decent pace all the way to the cache. I still had a fair amount of water, so I only filled up 1/2 L. There was a donation box, so I slipped $5 into it. I guess that was an expensive 1/2 L of water! Worth having it there though, if not for me, for other hikers in need. I mean, how cool is it that you can be hiking through the woods all day long, and come across water cache with gallons and gallons of water for the taking. Again, why people care enough to make this happen for us is sometimes a mystery. I am forever grateful to you water trail angels! Thank You! There were also hiker boxes with supplies, first aid, toiletries, Eclipse glasses, you name it. Pretty rad.

So, grabbinng some water there meant that we did not necessarily have to stop for water at the next spring. It was a climb uphill about six miles to Six Horse Spring, which was .3 off trail. Normally .3 mi off trail for water is no big deal for me. I’ve heard others complain about it though, and I just have to bite my tongue. Seriously!? This one, however, was a dusy because it was also about 300 feet down in elevation on a loose, dusty trail that led to a muddy spring where the water was a veritable trickle. I know this because I went down there last year. Now, I was ready to do it again, but when Tripsy and I got there, we both decided it would be better to just push on to our campsite another 6+ miles. We did take a break there though, and chatted it up a bit with a group of Nobos. We observed that most of the Nobos we were now meeting seemed to have a friendlier attitude and an overall more positive vibe compared to many of the Nobos we’d met further North. That’s not a judgement, just an observation. This group was fun to talk with.: Dr. Z, Pitch Perfect, Mica and the guy with a Bishop Hostel shirt I don’t remember his name, sorry brother!

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Nobos at the junction to Six Horse Spring

We’d decided on camping at Maidu Lake that evening. It was an additional .75 miles off the PCT, at a trail junction for the North Umpqua Trail #1414, and it was the only reliable water in the area for miles. That made it more than a 30 mile day for us, so we called it good. The trail headed downhill and it seemed to take forever! I was ready to get in that water, feeling so incredibly sticky and dirty. When we reached the lake shore, Angela and Zach were set up under a tree and already in their tent. Hurl Goat, as predicted, (Tripsy and I were starting to notice a trend with him), was waist deep in the lake, splashing the trail dirt off and had laundry hanging by his tent. We decided he was officially the “cleanest hiker” we knew and we were impressed with his dedication to staying so clean. I mean, it takes work and time to do that out on the trail. Most thru-hikers just allow their hygiene to go out the door, and some even take it to an extreme. Not this guy, he was different. Inspired, I knew I had no excuse for not getting in the water and rinsing the layers of caked dirt off my body.

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I should really rinse off…

 

Sunset clouds reflecting on the shore

We wanted some privacy though, so we headed along the shore through the forest to a stealthier campsite, protected by trees. It was actually a great little rectangle of Earth, and I decided to cowboy again, I was on a roll! The first thing I did, was strip down completely naked and walked in my bare feet down to the lake. I felt the muddy bottom squish through my toes, and the blades of tall grass brushing against my legs, and then I plunged into that wonderful water. It was chilly but refreshing, not so much of a swimming lake, but oh my did it feel amazing! I did not care at all that someone may have seen me naked, and I liked that I felt that free. When I made it back to our tent site, I was chilled, so I  bundled up in my puffy, put on dry socks and made myself a hot meal. Ahhhh, thru-hiking life, isn’t it the best!?

DAY 39: August 23rd, 2017

PCT SOBO Mile 786-813 Grouse Camp/Rim Alternate

29 miles; Elevation +3479 ft / -3091 ft (includes scrambling up /down Thielsen Peak trail)

Journal excerpt: As I was falling asleep last night there were strange flashes of green light in the sky. I can’t explain what they were. There was a single mosquito landing on my face as I fell asleep, but only one. Now, it’s 6:03 am and it is perfectly still here. The silence is palpable except for the gurgling of both me and Tripsy’s stomachs.

Yesterday afternoon, as I walked in the smoky forest I started to wonder if the smoke will ever end? Of course it will, but when? I thought a lot about skipping ahead to the Sierras, since they are my favorite and I’ve already done this before. I was honestly getting sick of the smoke. I was becoming impatient. So, I put a call out to my Spirit Guides, first to Thank them, and the Universe, for just the simple fact of me being out here. Then, for all the friends I’ve been able to connect with from last year, and all the new friends I’ve made this year. Then, I asked for guidance on how to proceed. This is something I do from time to time, and it really works, if you know how to ask and how to listen. The messages I am receiving are to stay put on a continuous footpath, and accept the trail as it is.

I took another food inventory: 1 dinner, 2 Pro-bars, 1 Cliff Bar, 1 Chia Bar, 1 Honey Stinger, a little trail mix and chocolate, 1 packet of PB, some potato chips, some cheese, candied ginger and coffee. Perfect for 46 miles! As I was rationing my food, I only ate a Pro Bar for my breakfast before we set off around 7:15 am. I was determined to make it 5 miles before having another snack. I played this sort-of game with myself. Why? Well, I decided it was good for my mind to become stronger, good training for me to be able to over-ride my body’s need for food. Bad idea. But, it did get me thinking about true hunger. What is that? I’ve never gone a day in my life without food. I’ve never even fasted. I won’t do it. Too many people in this world are hungry. I pushed it that 5 miles, to the OR/WA high point and as soon as I got there I stuffed my face unabashedly.

I ate a Honey Stinger with PB smothered on top, some nuts, and some chocolate. Ahh, much better! The OR/WA high point is the highest elevation on the PCT in all of OR and WA, at 7,560 ft. To think later, I would be nearly doubling that in the Sierras. Oh Sierras, how I long for you! But, I am to stay put, and I am to keep placing one foot in front of the other, through this smoke, on a continuous footpath from Canada to Mexico. You know what, though? I love Oregon. There are some truly beautiful forests here. I mean, look at this.

And then there’s Thielsen Peak. How gorgeous! Tripsy and I made it to the base of Thielsen Peak, by lunch time. There was an amazing fresh water source, cascading down the rocks from high above us, Thielsen Creek. We took off our shoes and dipped our feet in the chilly water. It was numbingly cold. I love fresh cold water for making lunch time iced coffee, and made each of us one. After that, Tripsy zoomed up the trail.

I had to push to catch up with her, as I had wanted to try taking the side trail up towards Thielsen’s Summit since I didn’t do it last year. We plodded up the steep trail for about 45 minutes, and I knew we didn’t have the time to make it all the way to the top, it was slow going. There was a lot of loose scree, and big rocky steps, and I could see it was going to get sketchy as we climbed higher. The views were pretty great though, reminded me of Old Snowy in WA. I would love to come back and summit this peak! It was totally worth the little side trip, as it felt really great to use my climbing muscles and break up the monotony of all that flat trail so typical of Oregon.

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View looking up to the Summit

 

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View looking down, PCT is to the right, out of sight

We got back on the PCT and our goal for the day was to make it to the Crater Lake Rim Trail Alternate, where it linked up with the PCT at the Northern side of the lake. The PCT does not go exactly by Crater Lake, you have to take the Rim Trail, if you want to go by the lake. I think most PCT thru-hikers chose this alternate. Why not!?

So, by now we were in the Mt. Thielsen Wilderness, and the trail stretched our for many, many flat miles, like 16 miles of flat. Now, one may think that flat is easy. It’s not. I had a hell of a time walking this section last year with bad plantar fasciitis, and I remember being quite spaced out from the monotony, and with all that pain to focus on, no distractions, it was hard. This time, I am not in pain, thankfully, and so I did enjoy it much more. I actually took the opportunity to see the beauty in this section more so than I ever could have last year. And I did appreciate it for what it was. It’s just miles and miles of walking through flat, monotonous forest. But the forest changes it’s types of trees, it’s under story, it’s amount of dead fall and it’s empty space. Mentally, it was fine for me, I didn’t mind it. I just sort of Zenned out as the evening light became more and more red. Physically, my body started to ache in new places, like my hips. But there was something so “PCT” about this section. It felt very remote, like you are just deep in the woods, “away”. You’re also deep into your thru-hike at this point, whichever direction you are headed, and you’re probably super dirty, tired, sore, hungry. You’re all these things that make you a thru-hiker, and here you are, walking through these “boring” yet beautiful woods. Sometimes, it’s even boring smoky woods, or boring rainy woods. Either way, I embraced it for being quintessentially PCT and I would do it again in a heartbeat. All of it. And probably will.

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We came upon a couple more water caches in the midst of these long forest stretches, one at a dirt road crossing and another just past the trail junction for the Crater Lake Rim Alternate. Thank goodness, because these caches turned a 26 mile water carry into shorter distances. I took water at both of them. We stocked up on water before taking the side trail that led us to our home for the night. When we arrived at Grouse Camp, Gretel was already there, set up and in her tent. Tripsy and I found a stealth site off in the trees, and I decided to cowboy again and there were lots of daddy long legs there, and some deer. We invited Gretel to join us for a sunrise hike up to Crater Lake the next morning, which she happily said yes to. Cool, another badass chick hiker to join our little posse. I fell asleep to some amazing stars I could see through the thick trees, and my heart was filled with visions of how I hoped the lake may look at sunrise. One can hope, right?

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DAY 40: August 24th, 2017

PCT SOBO Mile 831, Crater Lake/Mazama Village

~16 Miles from the Rim Alternate to Dutton’s Trail to Annie’s Spring, to the PCT to Mazama Village Campground

Elevation: Information is not provided for trail alternates

I tried to gaze at the starts last night, and actually you could see them quite well through the opening in the trees. But I was so tired, that I could hardly keep my eyes open for more than three minutes. I slept really well last night, even with the sounds of sticks breaking in the night. I was not bothered by them though, because I had seen some deer when we got into camp last night, so I passed it off at deer and went back to sleep. Glad I can do this. My alarm was set for 4:34 am and I heard Tripsy get up even earlier than that, so I got up too. It was a struggle for sure, but I made it happen, visions of sunrise over Crater Lake helped motivate me to get out of my warm sleeping bag. It was around 45F and I felt chilled so I started hiking in my hat, leggings and puffy. Way too warm! We had a steady uphill climb during which I was sweating in no time. We pushed off at 5am sharp and the three of us women marched uphill in deep sand dunes, through forest, then across exposed moon-like scapes  where the entire world glowed Blue. At times, I could feel the vast unbounded space of the crater getting closer and closer. It is a big space, a big force of energy. There were clouds, mist and fog and a lot of smoke, too. I felt like I was walking on another planet, and I kept stopping to take it all in.

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As the light began to enter the atmosphere and wake the world again, we were just approaching the edge of the giant caldera. We picked a spot to sit down and watch the sunrise, and make some coffee and breakfast. The water in the Crater was not the glimmering Sapphire blue of my visions, in fact, you really couldn’t even see the water. Despite this being totally different than what I had hoped for, it was still stunningly beautiful. I sat and enjoyed a smoky, moody sunrise on the Crater’s edge and slowly watched the mist and clouds rise up to make way for some blue sky.

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Once the sun was up and the day felt like it was under way, we set off to walk the rest of the Rim Trail. First, we had to walk on a part of the road, passing cars and people. Then we crossed some big sand dunes and headed back to the edge of the Crater. All together the Rim Alternate is something in the ballpark of 12 miles, and it is a lovely walk around the edge of the Crater. The trail would seemingly be flat, as it follows the edge, but do not be fooled! It is steeper and has a lot more climbing up and down than you would think.  Unfortunately, there was so much smoke, trying to attain views was futile, so we just pushed it along. I came up with the idea that we could make it to Mazama Village before 11:00 am and still get breakfast, my favorite “town” meal. So, the girls were right up for that and we started to hike faster and faster. Hiker hunger is a powerful thing!

20170824_07300920170824_071617When we made it to the South end of the Lake, and the end of the alternate, we had to take a couple side trails. It was a little confusing at first, where to go to get to the Village, and we tried stopping to ask a few folks. They just wanted to hear all about our hiking adventures and be all chatty with us. In my mind they were cutting into our precious breakfast time! I wasn’t actively engaged in that conversation, and I basically knew where we needed to go, so I just started walking in that direction, waving them along. I didn’t mean to be rude to those people, but I was on a mission for breakfast!

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Tripsy trying to figure out our next trail link

Mission failed, however, because we made it to the Mazama Village restaurant by 11:09am and even if they wanted to be nice and let us order breakfast, it really was too late, since they switched over to lunch at 10:30. Oh well. But, I was rewarded when I got there because I ran into a Nobo whom I knew from social media. Her trail name is Sunkissed and we both recognized each other immediately. These chance meetings are so special and memorable. We sat and chatted for about an hour. She had just finished coming through a section of trail that was literally on fire. I came to find out that day that it was officially closed now. Fortunately she and her hiking companions were okay, but it sounded really sketchy. Exciting, but sketchy. So, new information to mull over, another trail section closed. What to do now?

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Me and Sunkissed

We finished “breakfast” and headed over to the store, where I had a re-supply box waiting for me. Out in front there were several Nobos and we’d heard that you could pay .75 cents to take a cold shower there. Um, no thanks? Instead, I convinced Tripsy that we could find a hot shower somewhere within the giant campgrounds, where I had good luck last year. I thought I knew something others didn’t. We walked all over, in circles really, before we admitted to defeat, as none of the showers we tried were open. Our solution was to do a total hiker trash hobo sink shower. If there is such a thing as a hiker “sin” I suppose this would be one of them. We stripped down in the bathroom and proceeded to bathe with our pack towels via the hot water from the sink. We also washed our socks. For any of you reading this who are hikers, you know what this ends up looking like. The entire sink ends up looking like a puddle of mud, and the dirty water gets everywhere. It’s unbelievable how much dirt gets into our socks! Well, we cleaned it all up, and were so happy, hot water and clean socks, we left there feeling like royalty!

We decided to camp at Mazama that night, since it was unclear how we were getting out of there, and back onto the PCT due to the new fire closure. We went over to the hiker camp site and set up our tents in a semi-private little section of trees. It was me, Tripsy and Gretel. Turns out Gretel is a talented actress from Australian “Broadway”. She is quite accomplished and passionate about her craft, and it was really interesting hearing her story about how she ended up deciding to hike the PCT. She is super fun, lots of happy energy, and I love her accent! We are trying to think of a trail name for her…

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We also ran into Hurl Goat in camp, and the four of us ended up going back to the restaurant for dinner. Which was amazing. I ordered cajun catfish with rice and veggies, a salad, a glass of red wine and a chocolate cake. Oh my goodness, heaven! We got to know Hurl Goat a little bit that night too. He is from Ontario, Canada, and grew up in a German Mennonite community. He was born in Mexico actually, he was telling us some interesting stories in his very characteristically unique way, about how he grew up. I wondered at one point, what era was this guy born in? because he was talking about living by kerosene lamps and horse and buggy, and kept saying “oh, those were different times” as if he were an 80 year old man, reminiscing about his youth. I found him to be fascinating and funny and I enjoyed talking more with him on the dark walk back to camp. Back in camp, we poured over our maps and discussed options for getting around the fire closure. It all seemed tricky, as it is illegal to hitch hike in any National Park. But the alternate provided by the PCTA began with a 22 mile road walk out of Crater Lake NP. I hate road walks, they are just plain dangerous. I will do it if I have to, but I’d rather get a hitch. So, that was our conundrum and I determined in my mind that I was just going to take my chances and hitch the 22 miles of paved road, and get dropped off in a place where it was safe enough to hike the rest of the way back to the PCT. That was my plan, but as you know, the plan can always change. I fell asleep reminding myself that “the trail provides”. I knew it would, it always does.

 

 

 

 

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