June 13 (~08:10 – ~20:10)
Warm Springs River – Barlow Pass (27.3 mi / Total: 2092.4 mi)
Total PCT miles: 992.4
Weather: Warm, sunny.
The rumbling from last night never turned to real thunder, and the day is another sunny one. The mosquitoes are a little less vicious on this side of the river, and I walk past forests and meadows and lakes to get closer to town. I eat my last food: a wrap with cheese, salami and the powdered chili hummus I’ve been carrying for weeks but haven’t tried yet. It doesn’t quite taste of hummus, but it’s food, and it keeps me going.
There are lots of day trippers today, and Timothy Lake is filled with locals camping. After I make a little detour to see Little Crater Lake, a crystal clear pond, it goes quiet again, and I can hike in peace.
I just need to decide where to go. I can hitch into Government Camp, a small town, from Highway 26, some 22 miles from last night’s camp, or I can keep walking for another 10 miles to Timberline Lodge, an upscale ski resort with an all you can eat buffet that hikers go crazy about. I was thinking of going into town and having the lunch buffet on the way out, but after meeting another southbound section hiker who tells me about their breakfast buffet, I decide to walk as far as I can today, and hit the breakfast in the morning.
I spend most of the day avoiding mosquitoes and simply thinking about what food I’m going to eat. It seems that running out of food may have an advantage after all, and at least the breakfast buffet will be worth the steep price I’ll have to pay.
After crossing Highway 26, I feel different. How odd is it to live in the woods – to pass these symbols of civilisation, the cars filled with people going to their respective homes and I’m wandering around these forests to sleep in a tent, wherever I might end up for the night. The idea of this freedom gives me a bit of a power boost, and I put on music, and begin to run. There will be a second road just 5 miles further up, and the forest in between goes dark and a little eerie. I speed through, hoping I don’t spot any animals, and go go go. My feet are sore and I’m exhausted and bored from the forest but I’m running towards breakfast, and that’s all that counts.
When I pass the second road I think of going another few miles, but frankly I’m too tired, and I know I don’t have to. I’m only 5 miles from Timberline Lodge, and breakfast starts at 7:30. There’s no way I’ll miss it. I find a spot just big enough right next to the trail amongst the old trees, and set up, dreaming of food.