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Martin "Lei Low" Rolph
City: Cameron Park
Begins: Apr 12, 2008
Entry Visits: 1,248
Journal Visits: 184,858
Guestbook Views: 5,677
Guestbook Entrys: 35
Elk Lake And Gloomy Predictions
It’s a gloomy, rainy evening here in Sisters Wilderness, sort of matches my mood right now. I came really close to getting on a bus headed home this afternoon.
I broke camp early this morning with visions of burgers and hot showers in my head. I hiked fast on a crisp frosty morning. It was only 11 miles to Elk Lake and I was looking forward to a bit of civilization. There were a few lakes and meadows to break up the monotonous forest. In one of the meadows, a sandhill crane was hunting along the edge of a pond. A little further on, I caught a glimpse of a pine marten scampering along a log. It was busy and didn’t seem to notice me but wouldn’t sit still for a picture.
The hike seemed to be taking an eternity but in actuality, it was only 3 hours before Elk Lake resort came into view at 9:30AM. I was greeted by Lucky, Milky, and Crow as I hiked up to the porch. They asked if I had seen Alameda Frank on my hike in. He had left camp before Crow, only a few miles from Elk Lake, but never showed up. With the mystery about Frank unresolved, I headed inside to get my resupply box and see about showers and laundry.
I found my box stacked in the back room with a hundred or so other PCT hiker packages. Inside there was food for the next week and new shoes! (Thank you Boulderbunny!) My current pair were looking pretty sad with most of the mesh fabric disintegrating.
I got my laundry started, took a long, hot shower, and bought a huge ice cream cone. While savoring my ice cream, I caught up on news and gossip with Milky and Lucky (I last saw them at Crater Lake). The reports from further up the trail are pretty gloomy. There is supposedly heavy snow, difficult route finding, dangerous icy slopes, and massive fields of blown down trees. There worst spots are just ahead near the Three Sisters, and a little further up passing Mt. Jefferson.
While I was sorting and repacking food, Lucky, Milky, and Crow headed back to the trail, leaving me to watch for Frank and stew about trail conditions. I went into the restaurant and had just ordered a burger when Frank showed up. He had made a wrong turn at one of the junctions and hiked for several hours before realizing the mistake. I was enjoying my burger and fries with Frank when we met a local trail angel. This older gentleman from Bend, Lloyd Guest, supports PCT hikers in central Oregon with rides to and from trailheads to the stores and bus depot in town. His predictions about the trail ahead were particularly depressing. Even with winter mountaineering gear, hiking may be difficult and dangerous. I’m not carrying any mountaineering gear, not even trekking poles, and I’m starting to get a bit nervous.
After lunch, I went searching for a spot with cell phone coverage. I got a good signal near the docks and called Bb. I’m afraid I might have caused some concern and worry when I told Bb about the trail condition reports. She was very nervous about me continuing without crampons or ice axe. We discussed options like waiting for equipment to be Fedexed here or going in to Bend to buy stuff. I was really tempted to hitch into to town and get on a Greyhound home. If someone had offered me a ride at that moment, I would have gone.
Eventually, I decided to go up the trail and see for myself what conditions were like. I promised Bb I would be careful and turn back if I ran into dangerous icy slopes. Thoroughly depressed, I finished packing and headed back up the connector trail to the PCT.
Ominous clouds began to form when I hit the first area of heavy blow-downs. It way a bit tedious, but not too much trouble to climb over or around the downed logs. A bit further, and with rain threatening, I pitched my tent near Sisters Mirror Lake. It was just starting to sprinkle when Frank showed up and set up camp nearby.
Today was definitely a low point for me. I guess I’ll take one step at a time. Tomorrow, I’ll hike up the trail and see how bad the snow is.
Martin "Lei Low“
Tales From The Crest
The Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) is a 2,650-mile national scenic trail that runs from Mexico to Canada through California, Oregon and Washington. The PCT traverses 24 national forests, 37 wilderness areas and 7 national parks. The PCT passes through 6 out of 7 of North Americas ecozones. Learn more: www.pcta.org
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