July 27 (~09:00 – ~18:55)
Before Oregon Highest PCT Point – Rim Alternate Junction (22.6 mi / Total: 1839.3 mi)
Total PCT miles: 1714.8
I was up until late last night, taking advantage of the cell phone service at my camping spot, so this morning I take all the time I need. I get up late and decide on an easy day. The timing is perfect. I’m getting close to Crater Lake National Park, where I plan on hiking the official PCT alternate, which follows the Rim Trail around the lake itself. No camping without a permit is allowed there, so tonight I’ll camp just before the trail starts, and I’ll do the Rim tomorrow. It’ll make today a short 22.6 miles in easy terrain, and I’m happy, because my legs are still tired from the previous days.
I’m still loving my campsite. The morning views are marvellous, and there are hardly any mosquitoes. It’s such a calm way to start the day – I had practically forgotten what it’s like to break up camp without an army of mosquitoes in attack.
The morning is just as great. First I walk the mile to the PCT’s highest point in Oregon, at 7573 feet, but I somehow manage to miss the actual point. The terrain seems level and spacious and all I see is a pole with the PCT logo, but in retrospect that was probably the high point.
Just beyond I run into a woman just starting her day. She’s 63 and she’s on her day two of section hiking all the way to Canada. There’s something about this woman I love. There are so many older men hiking the PCT, but I haven’t seen many women who are a little older. I think she’s fabulous and hope she makes it all the way.
There are just a few more distinct ups and downs today, and they belong to getting around Mount Thielsen. It’s a rocky peak, all craggy and black and dangerous looking. There’s a popular trail to the peak, but looking at it from a distance makes it seem like a terrifying scramble. I’m sure there’s an easy way up, but from where I’m standing, it looks horribly precarious. Meanwhile the PCT skirts around the base of the peak, but it affords some nice views of the valley around and the mountain itself, and allows for some dramatic and rocky trail that even has some leftover snow.
It’s hot again today, but my appetite has come back. I eat all my Cliff bars and then spoon peanut butter while I walk. I’m so leisurely today, I can’t afford to take even longer to get to my destination today, so multitasking is the way to go.
From here on, nothing much happens. The trail is mostly level, and moves through a spacious forest. There’s little water, but there are several water caches again, which is amazing. The mosquitoes come back towards the end of the day, but they’re not as bad as they have been. I only just begin noticing them again when I run into Andrew and Lora, who started on the same day as me. I knew they were somewhere nearby, and I’m excited to catch up. They’re headed to camp close to the road at the water cache I just passed, and I’m aiming for the cache just in the other direction. Such bad timing.
Not long after I made it to my destination. I find a camp spot, surprised once again that I’m the only one here. I pitch first, then head for the main road where a cache is maintained inside a bear locker. I take what I need – tomorrow starts with another dry stretch, so I make sure to bring enough.
There’s a message for PCT hikers. We’re told to use the Rim Trail alternate instead of the PCT, which works for me as that was my plan anyways. It lists a number of areas that we are prohibited to enter because of recent treefall and mountain lion activity. The list is confusing – it includes areas along both route options, so I’ll just have to see tomorrow. I’m assuming if I can’t use the trail, I can walk the road next to it. Tomorrow will tell. I’ll get up early so I won’t get stuck in the Sunday crowds.