After being treated to a delicious breakfast by trail angel Joan, she kindly drove me back to the PCT and I resumed my hike near Callahan's Lodge at about 10am. It was an extremely dry section and the sky was filled with smoke from the surrounding wildfires.
Near Pilot's Head peak is a Peregrine Falcon nesting area and it was awesome to see so many falcons flying about.
I met up with Hobo and Milkshake again at a spring which was fun. I hadn't seen them since Lake Isabella and there were also a few new hikers I hadn't met before. Along the trail I ran into a horse rider who used to live in Hawaii.
My back ached as Purple Monster was full of food and water but I still managed to hike 20miles/32km today and camped near an almost dry spring with Magic Stick, Laugh Track and Han.
23.4 mind numbing miles today, past a couple of creeks, half empty reservoir lakes and through the woods.
I saw quite a few deer and fawns and went past a sign that said "You don't know what your limits are unless you push them".
I met up with Any Minute Now and Hustler again, it was great to see them and that evening I camped beside a cabin in the woods called South Brown Mountain Shelter
which has an old hand pump well outside with brownish water that tastes like iron.
That night a full yellow moon rose above the trees and it was very peaceful.
I left the cabin in the woods and spent the next 10 miles/16km hiking along an ancient volcanic eruption which looked as though the earth had spat out thousands of rocks.
A lot of this section of trail had been built up with lava rock and it traversed between boulder fields and forests.
When I reached Hwy 140 I got a ride in a firefighting truck to Fish Lake resort for lunch.
There I found a book with this message on the back cover, " The search itself is the trap. You are already what you are seeking".
After leaving Fish Lake, I was devoured by mosquitoes for the next 12 miles and camped at Christie Spring.
The day started off well as I reunited with Jecks and Hecks and hiked many miles with them.
We were having a great time until we came to a ridge where a firefighting crew was getting supplies airlifted by helicopter and in the valley,
not far off to the west was an out of control wildfire.
We started hiking faster than usual to get away from it as the air filled with more and more smoke.
Towards late afternoon a thunder and lightening storm started and I practically ran until 8pm, completing 27 miles for the day and trying to get out of an awful, previously burned section before dark.
An eerie silence then filled the woods save for the occasional thunderclap, as I camped in solitude.
By midday, I arrived at Crater Lake with Jecks and Hecks. We had a great nero at Mazama Village including pizza, Chardonnay, laundry and a shower and left for the Crater Rim late afternoon.
As we reached the lookout a thunderstorm broke out and we spent a couple of hours in the restaurant until the storm abated.
Then six of us walked a couple of miles along the rim and camped on the trail to Lightening Springs at 9 pm after a beautiful fiery red sunset.
I continued the trail solo today and the hike along Crater Lake Rim Trail was gorgeous.
Once past that, the trail went through some uninspiring woods and then a torrential downpour commenced with thunder, lightening and hail.
I placed my pack rain cover over my backpack and kept dry under my Golite umbrella, but eventually the rain became so hard that I got wet and cold as the temperature plummeted. I reached Hwy 138 and had the option to continue drenched and hypothermic or hitch to a warm dry environment at Diamond Lake at the foot of Mt Thielsen.
I landed up at the south shore restaurant with seven other PCT hikers escaping the storm and decided to stay overnight as the thunderstorm continued. As I type this dry, warm and well fed, I am grateful that I made such a good decision!