July 22 (~07:15 – ~20:40)
Before Little Belknap – Mesa Creek (26.2 mi / Total: 1963.0 mi)
Total PCT miles: 1591.0
Weather: Sunny, warm, with some wind at higher elevation.
I immediately notice daylight hours are shorter in Oregon. My alarm goes off at 5:30 and although it’s light out, Washington was lighter. It’s warm though, so it’s easy to get up and start my day. However, it doesn’t take long to realise I’m not quite ready for what’s to come: the onslaught of volcanic rock.
One I hit the black desolate fields, the trail proves to be truly loathsome, and I cannot imagine why all those day trippers choose to be here out of free will. I guess I’ve seen ample lava in Iceland, and the rolling black raggedy rock landscapes are more of an unstable and painful minefield than a special occasion.
The lava fields are about 6 miles long, and it’s quite an endeavour to get through. The trail ascends lightly, and it takes me hours. By the time I’m out I’m exhausted, but the trail only keeps going up. I find myself stopping and leaning on my trekking poles now and again, struggling my way forward. It’s like the tough days I had in Washington, and I’m disappointed how I’m experiencing the same. I wanted to continue the positivity of those last few days going towards Canada. I try to actively change my mood, but it doesn’t quite work. My pack still feels as heavy as it was yesterday and I haven’t eaten much either – my hiker hunger had seemed to quadruple in Washington, but here in the heat I’m just not that hungry anymore. At the rate I’m going, my resupply will last me forever.
While all these thoughts are running through my head, I run into Iron, who I first met in Tehachapi, when a small group of us soaked in our hotel hot tub. She actually went through the Sierras, and managed to go northbound all the way. I’m impressed – she’s almost at mile 2000. But then she was doing long days in the desert already, she’s a tough one.
Once I say goodbye I’m close to the end of the ascend. I’m so happy when the trail turns to small ups and downs, and then mostly levels out, and wanders around the Three Sisters mountains. I go a little faster now, but I still have a while to go – I wish I could set up my tent right here.
Then, as I sit down my pack for a much needed break, I realise the mouthpiece is missing from my brand new Sawyer filter. Oh no. It must’ve slowly screwed off while I was walking. I know I still had it at the last water source, and when I look on the map it’s over a mile back. It’s not a huge distance but I know it may mean me wandering up and down for forty minutes and not necessarily find it, and despite how much I want the piece back and I don’t want to litter, there’s not a chance in the world I’m going to walk anymore than required today. The whole episode makes me feel upset. Why does everything feel like it’s going wrong?
Despite the easier trail, the day just gets worse. The mosquitoes appear, and I keep having to wipe them off me, they’re relentless. I almost picked up a headnet in Portland, but figured I didn’t really need it. If I knew it would be like this, I would’ve picked up not only the headnet, but the full body armour. I keep swiping them away, down the back of my legs, my neck and face, with every sweaty, sandy swipe my new sun gloves more oily and brown. When I reach the pond I want to camp at the mosquitoes are so aggressive and the pond so murky, I decide to walk another mile. The creek here has nice and clear water, but the mosquitoes are just as bad. I get bitten about 600 times, and dive into my tent, vowing not get out again.