June 12 (~08:30 – ~20:10)
Red Lake (off-trail) – Warm Springs River (approx. 23.1 mi / Total: 2065.1 mi)
Total PCT miles: 965.1
Weather: Sunny, warm. It’s gets overcast later in the day and the skies rumble.
I’ve survived all of the insects around Red Lake, and only have a little over 2.5 miles to go before I’m back on the PCT. After a huge detour with lots of bushwhacking and snow, I’ll finally be back on track, and I’ll be able to just walk without worries, at least for a while.
I’m mostly excited about Olallie Lake and Resort, which I’ll pass shortly after joining the PCT. There’s supposed to be a small camp shop, and I’m running out of food. Someone on Guthook even mentioned coffee in the mornings, and it’s all I can do not to drool at the thought of it. I’m starving. I began to count on this shop when I realised that getting around Mt Jefferson was going to take a lot longer than I’d thought. It took four days to get here – it should’ve been two. I wasn’t expecting to need that much extra food.
I hurry along the trail. First I pass all the romantic lakes around the Red Hut trail, and once I’m back on the PCT, the trail has turned into a beautiful meandering path with some gorgeously rocky views of Lake Olallie below.
It still feels like an eternity before I reach the resort, and I wander around the quiet buildings to locate the shop. It’s difficult to find, and no one is around, apart from a few parked cars. It’s very quiet for a resort at a lake. When I locate it, it’s closed. I look through the windows – it’s a mess. No products, the shelves are all over the place. The shop hasn’t opened yet for the season. In fact, the entire resort isn’t open yet. In sit down on a bench in front, pretty devastated and hoping for some miracle that would magically provide me with food, but nothing happens. Instead, the mosquitoes begin to attack.
Then I hear a noise – some male voices coming from somewhere in another building but no one comes out, no one has noticed this stray hiker looking hungry in front of the shop. I think about waiting for a while but the mosquitoes are so vicious I decide to leave. I’ll have to ration my food and be hungry until I get to town.
Soon enough I’m back in the forest. The trail meanders, skirts, sidles along some views across the land ahead and dives back into those dense woods. Suddenly I hear voices ahead of me – PCT hikers! I’m so excited to finally see people and to meet other thruhikers. I feel like I’ve been on my own for so long. These guys are currently going southbound, but we chat for some time, about the snow, about the fact we’re all running out of time on our visas. We all started the trail at completely different times – the start of March, late March, and mid April. And we’re all here right now. It’s such an odd year. I tell them about the snow ahead, but I’m sure they will get through. They’re together, and they’re fast hikers. They’ll be all right.
Before we head off in own own directions I tell them the shop at Olallie is closed, and they were also counting on it for their resupply. I tell them to try and find one of the people there, perhaps they can sell them something after all. Despite this, they still want to offer me some of their food when I tell them I’m running out. I don’t accept anything, but I figure it might be a good incentive to get me to town faster.
Then I’m off again. Despite the excitement of meeting other hikers, the rest of the day turns into a day of horrors. I don’t get a moment of rest – the mosquitoes are out, and they are bloodthirsty. I’m forced to keep on moving, until even that makes no difference. They bite me even when I run, latching on to me, biting my legs, through my shirt, everywhere. When I swipe one off my hand, it leaves a trace of blood. My blood, I presume. Everything stings and hurts, my legs now not just red from scratches, but also endless mosquito bites. All I do is run through the forest, past the few mountain views, all I do is move.
As it gets later, the clouds thicken and it begins the rumble in the distance. Upset skies. It’s not near enough for me to worry yet, but I keep on moving, trying to get as far as I can, even though I’m exhausted from the constant effort and not being able to break. I have my eye on a campsite next to a spring, but I feel I should go just a little further, just a few more miles closer to town. I tell myself I’ll judge the spring as I pass, but when I get there it’s off-trail, so I keep on going without checking it out – I guess that’s decided. By now, every step exhausts me so I decide to run. I’m not a runner, but my pack is just light enough to manage a decent hobble and I speed down the trail, ready to get this day over with.
After two long miles I stumble into camp, only to find two others already there. More hikers, today is a treat. They are Ronnie and Lomax, and both are doing long sections and have only just started. They are headed southbound, so they are curious about my experiences, and the bail-out route I used. Neither of them carry microspikes, so they may not be able to do this section at all – I know I couldn’t imagine doing it without spikes. But they are both fun, and I spend the evening chatting with them until it’s dark. I realise I haven’t done this once on the PCT. Ronnie even gives me some snacks so I’ll have a little more food to get me to town. They listen to my snow hell stories and Ronnie offers some good advice: switch gods. Clearly it’s not working out for me, and I should devote myself to another one. It doesn’t matter which one, he assures me, just try something else.