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Having to complete some business for work in Ashland and arriving ahead of schedule, Blues and I took a zero in that little town. We resupplied, treated ourselves to a fancy dinner, and got a good nights sleep. Getting a ride back to trail we were hiking at 9 the next morning. Frustratingly, the trail immediately ran the wrong direction. First walking east,then heading directly south for several miles we (again) had views of Shasta and Northern California. Thorough out the day, the trail passed through open grass fields and lush green forests. This day we met Marvin for the first time - an older guy who has hiked the whole trail with an umbrella. We wound see him off and on all week. After 25 miles we came to Hyatt lake campground with showers and bathrooms. The lake was quite low but provided a nice view of Mt McLaughlin. We camped with Marvin and Shane, a young guy from Portland who has the largest pack I'd ever seen. Shane was hiking the Oregon section with a giant army pack and only eating MREs. He is a friendly guy and happens to live in our neighborhood.
We left Hyatt at at 6:15 AM and continued through forests and grasslands. Forests were often sparse but had some of the largest doug fir trees I have seen. We also continued to see an occasional redwood. The trail was very smooth and fast and we burned through lots of miles. We stopped at a pipe spring and chatted with two college girls who started at Echo Lake. Marvin also came by to fill up his bottles. We had lunch and took a long rest in the sun.
Leaving the spring the trail began to wind through lava fields - the forest service had done a great job filling in the trail with small lava rock making the hiking easy. We later came to a ski shelter with an old water pump where Kurt and Jim were lounging. Kurt was the brother of the trail angel who gave us snacks back at the Oregon border. We hiked a few more miles and had a dry camp off the side of the trail.
One of the biggest questions I am asked about this trip is what I eat on trail. I kept track this day and it seems to be typical intake. In order for the day: snickers bar, cheese stick, granola bar, slim Jim, mini Oreos, Raman noodles, gold fish crackers, payday bar, 1/2 dehydrated dinner(teriyaki chicken), 1/2 instant potato pack. Yummy.
Anyway, back on trail at the usual time, we hiked through more lava fields and dry forests. The trail became very rocky in places but was never very steep. Through out the past two days we hiked through raspberry, thimbleberry, and blueberry bushes. I ate so many berries my hands were stained. In the morning we made our way to Fish Lake Resort for breakfast and were joined by Kurt and Jim (whom I've named Penn and Teller).
Back on trail, after several miles we climbed to a summit and had our last view of Shasta. It was nice to finally put that mountain to our backs. Not far to the north we could see the rim of Crater Lake and Mt Thielsen. We did our customary 25 miles and had another dry camp. As we were getting ready for bed, Cool Breeze rolled into camp. CB is from Hawaii and his trail name is a perfect fit. He told us that he (and two other hikers) had entered the 50 mile race that was being held on the trail back before the border. He was also signed up to do 120 mile race in Canada when he finished the trail. Incredible.
Another day and a half of hiking brought us to Crater Lake. We stopped for breakfast at Mazama Village and then strolled over to the store. Out front there were 10 or so hikers we had been leapfrogging for the past several days. Among them was Courage, a Japanese kid who spoke little English and carried a two pound camera. We first met him way back in Etna.
CB, Red Feather, just Justin, Blues and I took the shuttle to the Crater Lake Rim. The lake was as beautiful as I remember. Something everyone should see. As the day was very hot,and we only had 9 more miles to go, we sat at the lodge and enjoyed the view for several hours.
Red Feather (now named Black Widow as her hiking partners always seem get injured), Justin (who is injured), Blues and I hiked out around 4 PM following the rim trail around the lake and down to Grouse camp. Far to the west, we could see a distant forest fire. The air smelled of smoke and was very hazy.
We camped with several hikers who were doing there first backpacking trip. They were excited to hear our trail stories and get advice on back country.
The next morning was an easy 9 mile downhill walk to Highway 138 where my father-in-law, Louie, picked us up. He drove us and several other hikers to Diamond Lake where we have spent a relaxing day. Louie brought pie, chips, beer and cokes for us - the four major food groups.
All for now. Next post from Sisters, 130 miles north.