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Begins: Apr 19, 2012
Date: Wed, Aug 8th, 2012
Start: Sisters, OR
Trip Distance: 8.0
Entry Visits: 771
Journal Visits: 11,264
Guestbook Views: 859
Guestbook Entrys: 13
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Pacific Crest Trail Map
Picking up from the last entry, leaving Ashland. I had to compete with a non-hiker (a guy with a broken down car) for a hitch back to the trail. He wasn't very friendly. A car with two very tattooed women picked both of us up. The first time a woman has stopped to pick me up. I made it back to the trail and walked a few more miles that night to camp near Pilot Rock.
The next few days were uneventful. The trail in Oregon is smooth overall and the climbs much more mellow so it is easy to cover a lot of ground. I hiked more than 30 miles per day for three days straight. One day even included a side trip to a nearby campground that has free showers. Four days after leaving Ashland I made it to Crater Lake National Park.
I picked up my package at the Mazama Village store and had breakfast at Annie's Restaurant. Portions were huge and the food good. After laundry and a quick shower I hiked the remaining 4 miles up to the crater rim. What a huge, beautiful lake! Deep blue and really clear. The view was amazing. Food here was overpriced so I just ended up with a quesadilla at the lodge, enjoying the view from the deck.
Up here the PCT splits into hiker and equestrian trails since horses aren't allowed on the rim trail. It's much more spectacular up here so their loss. I hiked on and made a side trip up to the lookout on The Watchman before going an other few miles and finding camp behind Hillman Peak. My site was near the edge, sandy, and one of the best camps I've had the entire trail.
Southern Oregon is surprisingly dry. An info board at Crater Lake explained it's a remnant from the explosion of Mt. Mazama (which formed the lake) leaving several feet deep layers of pumice, so groundwater just drains away. It was a very dry 27 miles with no water from the lake onward. Towards the end, near Mt Thielsen, I started to hit real snow. More snow than I had walked across in the Sierras. Even with these snowpatches it was several 20 mile stretches between water sources. Even stranger, the bugs were horrible even when there was no water!
There was still a lot of snow around Diamond Peak and the bugs even worse from the recent melting. I was happy to get through here. I ran into hikers Clay, Hono, Iceman, and Birdnut at Summit Lake. We parted ways again when I went to Shelter Cove Resort to pickup my resupply box. A nice little place but more built around RVs than hiking. After getting back on trail I walked another few miles to the cafe at Willamette Pass ski area for pizza. Then I rode the gondola over Eagle Peak to rejoin the PCT. I skipped about 4 miles of trail this way, the only trail I have skipped so far, but I've never ridden a gondola before and it was fun.
I woke up to more clouds than usual and it was very warm. Much of the trail today went through an old burn area in full sun. Very tiring. Still I was making great progress past lots of nice lakes. I stopped at Dumbell Lake to cook dinner and ran into Redbeard, who I hadn't seen since way back at Kennedy Meadows. He lives in Oregon and is hiking slower to enjoy his home state. As I sat the clouds got darker and distant thunder started. I decided to walk on, figuring I could just stop and put the tent up if it starts raining. I walked past a really nice campsite and about ten minutes later the sky was really dark and the thunder nearly constant. I started watching for sites but didn't find anything. The rain caught me, going from nothing to just a wall of water, and I was soaked. I got the tent up quickly but everything was drenched.
The rain didn't last long and I woke to clear skies. My sleeping bag and pad were dry but I had to put on cold wet clothes to start walking. The trail went up past Three Sisters today and was really pretty. I stopped for a long lunch in the sun and let my stuff dry out. It was sunny and warm so it didn't take long. I got complacent about rain since that was the first serious rainfall since late April! Bad practice for a WA hiker.
There was a lot of snow going through the Sisters Wilderness and my feet were constantly soaked. But it was some of the prettiest scenery in Oregon yet. Also very volcanic. Some stretches of trail went for miles through fields of pumice and golf-ball sized lava rock. I also ran into several southbound hikers, the first I've seen. Casper, Only-Young-Once, and Team Spiderbark.
The next day I crossed McKenzie Pass on more tough lava rock and was happy to find a water cache with soda. I made a detour to see Dee Wright Observatory, just up the road. It's a stone tower made of lava rock with little windows that frame and identify distant peaks. Then it was more lava rock and a long, hot walk through another burn area to Big Lake Youth Camp.
Really friendly place to PCT hikers. We can but meals for $ 6 (which are vegetarian but very good and huge portions - today was fried eggplant) and take showers. I received an awesome care package from friends but didn't have a food box. Apparently I never boxed up food to mail here? I don't know, but it was a surprise. I walked about 7 more miles to Santiam Pass and hitched a ride down to Sisters for the night. Two hikers I met at kickoff, Shrek and Mad Hatter, gave me a ride down after dropping off two other hikers leaving Sisters - Blair Witch and Trailbait.
Sisters is a nice town. I stayed in the Sisters Inn and Suites. They have a hiker rate of $ 80, not the cheapest, but it gets you a huge room, king size bed, kitchenette, and free wifi. Great place. I'm spending the rest of the day resupplying, uploading photos, lunch, and hitting the trail this afternoon. Great unplanned stop, nice town. It's another 100 miles to Timberline Lodge, then just 55 more to Cascade Locks and the end or Oregon!
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