Saturday, July 4, 2015

Walking from California to Bend-Day 7-PCT mile 1829-1861

Day 7 in the wild. Why go on? I miss my family and now I'm at a resort where I could easily be picked up and carted home on four wheels instead of two feet. I arrived yesterday with Jelly Dog thinking the hike was over.

The overnight had changed my mind. The crisis I felt yesterday has evolved. I camped at the Mazama Campground inside Crater Lake National Park. The campground was cathartic. PCT hikers get relegated to the farthest, shittiest site in the whole car camping area. There at the crappy PCT campsite (aka land of misfit toys) I met a variety of characters. All the folks I connected with inspired me indirectly one way or another (thru' admiration or disgust) to continue on. And so I texted Kris that I was good to go. Crisis over. I would walk home and she didn't need to come pick me up.

Crater Lake and Wizard Island
Whether I was pushed in the back, pulled forward, or running away from the resort of Crater Lake with all of it's pitfalls, I moved on. I was suddenly darn adverse to interacting with the cars at the Crater Lake gas station, (the only petrol stop in Oregon where you can pump your own gas-National Parks are exempt from state rules), the people smelling like cologne, the tourists whining about some minutiae of their day. I was super stoked to move on.

The gorgeous blue of Crater Lake
Now, I've been to Crater Lake many times, but it still blows me away every time. The site has an incredible history. I write about here in a previous post: More on Crater Lake

Today was the biggest mileage day of the entire trip. I was REALLY motivated to move on. In fact, I began to jog. With only 20 pounds base weight on my back and a resupply just north of the National Park, the jog became a run. I took pictures, I stopped and enjoyed the beauty around me, heck, I even gave a family from Fresno some tips on places to visit in the area. But, I ran. I ran like I run in one of my trail races. The trail runner shoes on my feet cooperated great. My pack seemed invisible. I began to play and feel so light on my feet it was other worldly.

It may be a little hard to see from the pictures, but the rim of Crater Lake is some 1,500 feet above the surface. There is only one trail to hike down to the lake. It takes several hours. The rest of the 32+ mile circumference around the lake drops off like the most treacherous hillside of a mountain road you could imagine. You step too far and you are falling a 1/3 of a mile. Oh, and it'll be pretty darn difficult to recover your body.

Feeling punchy from the hike I filmed the vid' below in the context of the paragraph above.

The biggest inspiration was my favorite photo of the trip. While not winning any photo awards, it was so incredibly compelling to me at the moment I took it. This was probably one of the most powerful images of the entire trip. See below...

Look at this picture above carefully. The beauty is incredible and the vista is SO meaningful and inspiration to me at this moment. The brown areas are the 'pumice desert'. This is the area covered in pumice ash from the explosion of Mt. Mazama (which became Crater Lake) thousands of years ago. The peak to the right is Mt. Thielsen, my goal for the day. With some 30 miles without water, the glacier fed creeks of Mt. Thielsen are crucial for PCT hikers. Now click on the picture and look in the center of it. The snowy peak is South Sister. This is the tallest of the Central Oregon Cascade mountains. South Sister is in the local viewshed of my house-only 20 miles as the crow flies from my bedroom. ONCE I SAW THAT MOUNTAIN, I RAN. I could see the place that my family could see from our house. Even though is it was still over 150 miles walk away, home was right here. I ran.

Buried refreshment at Hwy 138, just north of Crater Lake-very satisfying after walking 125 miles. 
My running paid off. I made it to my resupply by the mid afternoon. I had one of the most non-traditional resupplies I was told. Here's what I did. Because I'm so stubborn and don't want help from anyone, I decided it'd be best if I could do the entire trip on my own. I also didn't want to rely on some resort and/or the post office to get my food resupply to me when I needed it most (lost packages of food sent to myself that never arrive). So to mitigate all my neuroses, I rented a car in Bend and drove it one-way to Ashland, took a taxi across the California border and began to walk home. On the way to Ashland, I stopped at the spot pictured above. This is where the PCT crosses Hwy 138 (just about the 7th paved road I've walked across since California some 125 miles ago). I pulled the car over and walked to a spot just 50 feet from the highway and the PCT. I found a tree that had blown over and disturbed the soil. In only a few minutes of digging and with just some elbow grease and a stick, I had a big hole all set. I lowered my resupply, all scents sealed in plastic bags inside a plastic trash sack, into the hole (along with beer) and buried it.

The picture above is the reward. I show up 7 days later to find my food resupply fully intact! I have one of the beers (oddly cool enough from being buried) and I celebrate. I'm only 10 or so miles to my next water source.

However, having two beers during a break on a 32 mile day proved to be one beer too many. I know. I'm really good at drinking beer and I was disappointed in myself. The fact was, I just didn't want the second beer. Really? Days on end of 10 hour days hiking with the taste and vision of a cool beer and now that I had it, I only wanted one? I apologized to all of my friends for being such a candy ass and left the second beer on the trail for the next hiker.

Mt. Thielsen, 9,183 feet
Onward I hauled ass for Thielsen Creek and the water than runs off the peak.

Yea, this was my view of Mt. Thielsen from the tent...
Just as the sun set, I made it to Thielsen Creek with the most incredible view. It was July 4th and as the sun went down, I could see the flashes of light and booms from the fireworks display some 5 miles away at Diamond Lake. I was totally alone again yet not far from people. Alone in the wilderness without others chirping in my ear about how awesome they are for hiking the trail. Alone with just the creek, the rocks, and the trees.

I made 32 miles today.

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