Saturday, August 30, 2014

The Land of Lava Rock, Lakes and Majestic Mountains

Day 112-116:

Back on the trail after being given a ride yesterday from a very kind man named Trung. 

I got back on at MacKenzie Pass where I had left off and as darkness fell, the lava fields gave way to a short, sandy path and camp area.

 It was here that I ran into Pippen which was a delight and Cloud Trousers who I had met on day 2 of my adventure which was astounding as it seemed so long ago! When I awoke the trail went back onto the lava rock which was slow going and brutal on the feet. 

Mnt Washington loomed up above the blackened lava rock terrain which eventually entered a burned forest section, passing the 2000 mile mark and continued on to meet with an intersection to Big Lake Youth Camp. 

As a last minute decision and due to the fact that I was low on water, I decided to venture to the camp. 

This turned out to be an excellent detour as I received so much more than a full bottle of water. On arrival, the staff were extremely welcoming and friendly and offered a free shower and laundry service. They also offered a free vegetarian supper to all PCT hikers and have a hiker lounge were we could charge up our electronics and relax. I received some great backpacking food from other hikers who had resupplied there and was able to use the wifi. Some of the other hikers there were Hustler, Any Minute Now, Sinbad, Snaps, Shiny, Hard Double and Danger Spoon. This is definitely a wonderful, friendly, hospitable place and I left at 7pm to get an hour of hiking in before setting up camp for the night.

Day 113:
I was awoken by the sound of ducks. My camp was on the bank of a small pond and the light from the sun rising made the hill across the pond glow red. 

The only problem camping so close to the water is the condensation on my tent, making it rather wet. I enjoyed a breakfast of Trader Joe's premixed with cream and sugar instant coffee and flatbread with peanut butter.
Within two miles I reached Santiam Pass and then climbed the rest of the day with rewarding scenery,noticing many animal tracks on the path including raccoon tracks. 

 I traversed along the flanks of the magical Three Finger Jack mountain which has spectacular jaggered peaks with banks of snow and glaciers on it's north face. 

Great vistas followed from this altitude, giving views of valleys and lakes, Wasco Lake being most notable. 

It was at this vantage point that I met up with Kelsey, a wonderful section hiker and she joined me for the remainder of the day proving to be awesome company. 

We stopped and filled our water bottles at the gorgeous Rockpile Lake and then made our way to my desired destination of the day, covering 25 miles/40km to Shale Lake at the foot of the majestic Mnt Jefferson.


 A prettier setting for a campsite would be hard to come by and we shared the campsite with Irish and Bella who had previously sailed a boat from Cape Town to the USA. It was fun to 'talk story' as we ate our supper. Life is good!

Day 114:

What a great day of hiking, although there was also a lot of climbing. Upon leaving Shale Lake I met up with Switch whom I had first met in Agua Dulce and then again at Lake Isabella. I hiked with her for about 4-5 miles until we reached the first fast flowing creek we had to ford. I fell off the log I was trying to balance on into the creek while trying to cross it, 
leaving me wearing soaking wet shoes. 

Soon I had to cross the very swift flowing Whitewater Creek and could not find a safe place to cross. What I didn't know at the time is that it's recommended to do this crossing before noon as after that the water volume increases dramatically due to the snow melt on Mnt Jefferson. I decided to wait it out until another hiker appeared as I didn't want to fall into the raging rapids and be drowned by my heavy backpack unnoticed. I had lunch on the banks to kill time and no-one arrived, so I had to pluck up the courage to make the crossing all alone and as it turned out, it was successful.   

The hike then took me through Jefferson Park which is stunningly beautiful and the ever present Mnt Jefferson was breathtaking. 

Once over a pass into the Mnt Hood Wilderness I had to walk across snow banks and could see Mnt Hood in the distance. 

Following that, I passed many lakes, ending my 25mile/40km day at Olalie Lake, a primitive fishing destination without electricity nor phone service.

 I camped on the banks of the lake with Mary Poppins, Apache, Wisdom and Sam I Am.

Day 115:

A long, long day in the woods. 30 miles/50km of undulating forest with occasional peeks of Mnt Hood and the surrounding hills. 

The PCT went through Warm Springs Indian Reservation and I met a lovely Indian woman gathering huckleberries in the woods. We had a conversation about wild berries and she wished me a safe journey. 

I really wanted to get good mileage done and passed a crossing with Headwaters Trail which was very misleading as I couldn't find the campsite described on my Guthooks App, so I continued onwards, crossing a highway as evening fell. Eventually, as it was almost dark, I saw a tent on the side of the trail and heard someone exclaim "Two Feathers"! I was overjoyed to discover Dimples, whom I had last seen at Kennedy Meadows South. I set up camp here on the waters edge and we camped together, very relieved to have each other's company.

Day 116:

Rain splattered on my tent as I woke up. During a break in the downpour, we broke camp and I set off in the drizzle, once again very happy to have my Golite umbrella. The sky was grey and the views obscured by the rain. 

I passed by numerous lakes and eventually came to a road that I could hitch to Government Camp from. I received a ride from two angels Yana and Ira who were on a road trip and they drove me right where I needed to be. 

Unfortunately it turns out to be the Labor Day weekend, the postoffice was closed and would only reopen in 3 days and I can't wait around for that long, so will have to forfeit it. As everything turned out, I was snug in a motel room during a cold, wet night. I have have consistently been fortunate enough to be safe and warm during the worst weather conditions so far.
I am eternally grateful to all the angels in my life and those I have met on my journey. Thank you!

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