Beginning Elevation = 7,250 (off PCT) Ending Elevation = 7,300
Elevation Range = 5,900 – 7,572
Weather: sunny, mid 70’s
So last night we camped illegally! Yep, could have been caught and throne in jail by the Crater Lake Rangers…for life probably. Since yesterday’s post was all photos, I thought I’d do a bit of background/recap…
As you saw, we made it to Crater Lake National Park, first stopping at Mazama Village where I picked up a resupply package from Dave H as well as a care package full of goodies from Sister Emily and the Brittenhams! After lunch and some ice cream, we hiked back to the PCT and then took the Rim Trail as an alternate route. This is something most hikers do for the views of the absolutely stunning spectacle of Crater Lake, but especially this year as the park recommends it so as to avoid an area where Mountain Lions are known to be I guess.
The thing about the Rim Trail is that you’re not supposed to camp along it. I misinterpreted the instructions posted and so we didn’t realize this until we were already hiking on it expecting to camp somewhere towards the beginning of it. We soon saw signs that were very clear that there by was no camping. I guess there are a few designated sites normally, but they’ve closed them due to the Mountain Lions in those areas. We heard there’s a mama cougar that’d been teaching it’s young how to hunt and so deer carcasses have been found. In the end, we hiked longer than expected. It was Snickers’ first 30 Mile + day! Woot Woot. We wanted to get to an area away from the road (a good portion of the Rim Trail goes near/ parallel to the road) that was away from the cougar area too and wouldn’t be in the touristy area right along the Crater Rim! We figured even though we were right next to the trail in an area we weren’t supposed to be, we were setting up in the dark and would be leaving in the morning at first light, so no harm would be done.
We left camp at first light, at 5:30am. I’ve been turned to the dark side by Snickers of packing in the dark so ready to leave camp just when light enough to see clearly. It goes make for some beautiful sunrise walking I’ll admit!
We had a very pleasant walk starting out that was a nice shallow descent. We saw a deer hop away (they run funny out here, hopping like rabbits) and had some nice views of the far off pointy Mount Thielsen that we’d get much closer to later in the day. We cruised along at a quick pace, did our usual breakfast stop, and then afterwards finally had to follow the trail uphill. It took us by surprise a little, but we persevered! I got ahead of Snickers during the climb, but we reconnected at this spot where I stopped to take in the views. I had a nice spot to sit and was just about dozing off when I heard his footsteps crunching on the sandy gravel trail…
Then, a bit further up, we found a great lunch spot with some views. Pony, who I’d met a few days prior, and Doctor Frivalous, who I’d met just then, joined as well. The Doctor got out his guitar for some tunage. He called it noodling, not actual songs, but I thought it sounded like some “Over the Hills and Far Away” by Zeppelin. Gotta get the Led out. Snickers wasn’t impressed and would’ve rather had the quiet and sounds of the surroundings. I enjoyed it.
The next part of trail took us right below Mount Thielsen and also had great views of the expansive forest looking out…
Around 2:45pm PST, Snickers and I made it Thielsen Creek, which I believed to be our exact halfway point in terms of miles walked on the trail!!! Hallelujah, what a great feeling. That’s 1,325 miles people. Turns out, we were about ten miles past that halfway point though. Or at least that’s my belief now when writing this and going through the calculations. It gets a bit confusing because of our skipping the Sierra section, so even though we’re at trail mile 1,800 something, we haven’t actually hiked that many miles.
We stopped for a nice break, filled up water, and basked in the beautiful scene.
I also celebrated in what was once my standard, a dance routine. And so, without further gibberish, here’s what I’m sure has been greatly anticipated, my halfway celebration “dance…”
I am excited about this. It seems like now it’ll be easier to see the miles disappearing as we near our goal. Now, understandably, you may be thinking, Stephen you’re only half way! You’ve been out there so long…how will you ever finish it! Be not afraid young grasshoppers, I did a few calculations and realized that for the first 810 miles I averaged around 10 miles/day including town stops and such. The last 530 miles, post Trailcation days, I’ve been averaging 21 miles/day. Again that’s including zero/nero days. Not saying I’ll be able to keep the pace, but just saying that I’m motivated. Snickers and I have adopted the House Stark motto of “Winter is coming” to keep us motivated. Quite literally.
The rest of the day we had another relatively big climb. Still somewhat gradual, but we did have to load up a lot of water again at the creek, so our packs were heavy. At the top of our climb, we found the highest point on the PCT for both Oregon and Washington! Hooray. Wasn’t much of a viewpoint, so we just kept cruising.
Around 5:30-6:00pm ish, we reached a lovely tent site. We had hoped to push on. Winter is coming after all, but I threw in the towel for the day. My dumb shin pain thing appeared again during the last hour of the day. This time in my left leg. On the bright side, it was a super nice site on top of a cliff with view. A bit of cell service. And More Food and Monica were there for some company. Since they were eating dinner, we switched it up and ate with them prior to setting up our tents.
Having gotten a resupply package at Mazama Village sent from Dave H aka the Hibernating Marmot aka the Master Trailsman, I was eating deluxe gourmet meals once again! Tonight’s specialty was a Pad Thai peanuty sauced ramen creation complete with a lime to squeeze overtop. Although it was quite tasty, I wasn’t able to finish it, just too dang full. Below is the concoction pre-sauce mix added…
After dinner, we all kind of split and did our pre-bedtime rituals. Having been around More Food and Monica a couple days at this point, I’ve come to realize that they just have it together. They seem to make everything look easy. Like for dinner, I sprawl my stuff out everywhere and they seem to have just what they need. Packing up, somehow they just have everything ready to go right away and leave precisely at there set time. Maybe it’s a cultural trait for folks living in Germany and Switzerland? Anyway, props to them. I’ll continue on with my messy, unorganized method 😛.