The previous day we had agreed, through Facebook, that a couple of trail angels would pick us up and take to the trailhead at noon. Thus we woke up at 8:30, took a luxury shower and proceeded to eat a massive breakfast. We had to pack our stuff and get it out of the room by 10. We then all did our own things – some went to check out the farmer’s market whereas I spent my time working on the blog and digesting.
At noon Bill and Amanda, two amazing people from Ashland, picked us up. It was about a 45 min ride to the northern end of the fire closure. Bill also offered water to fill up our bottles plus sodas, juices and candy bars. Amazing people!
We planned to hike just 10 miles to the Hyatt Lake Reservouir, where there was a horse campground. The trail was luckily pretty flat and we were shaded by trees but there was also a fair share of bushwacking as bits of the trail were overgrown. I managed to hike in the front of the group, what with my new trekking poles and lightweight backpack. About half way through we came upon a larger stream with a waterfall and for some reason there was a naked big lady crouching down right next to it?! Nevermind, we just hiked on.
There wasn’t an official spigot or anything at the campground but there was of course the lake – that’s where we planned to get our water from. After passing several dayhikers and finally reaching the campground, we went to check out the lake. It turned out to be artificially flooded and was pretty murky – filtering this would’ve possibly jammed our filters up right away.
Once everyone else had arrived we discussed what to do – the tentsites, picnic tables and toilet were awesome but we needed water – the next water was 5 miles north. But as there was a bigger group of campers next to our campground we decided to see if we could buy some of their extra water.
Coconut & Tomb Raider went on the mission and returned with a gallon. A minute later 2 of the campers came with a cooler – they had remembered they have an extra gallon in the car. We thanked them and had a chat. We divided up the water but then realized that we still needed more for all of our dinners, breakfasts and for the first 5 miles next morning. So we came up with a system: we filtered the lake water first through a piece of cloth and then through the Sawyer – it looked clean but still smelled bad but it was the best we could do.
So we chilled for some hours in the warm evening, luckily the mozis were not an issue. We all went to sleep pretty early as we had got to camp so early.
We woke up already at 5:20 and left the camp without eating breakfast – the plan was to hike the 8 miles to the next water source to get good water and eat breakfast there. The plan for the whole day was to hike 29,5 miles and have lunch at a shelter at about midway.
The morning was a bit cloudy but not cold and we did the distance to the water source at a campground pretty fast. We got there first out of the group and met the owners – they were very friendly and let us also use the power outlets to charge our stuff. The rest of the group soon also arrived and we had a great brunch together.
The elevation profile for the day looked pretty smooth and we’d also be mostly in the forest. It was, however, getting very cloudy and we got some rain, too. Soon enough we saw some dark clouds and started to hear the rumbling of thunder at a regular basis. Thunder sent us for the whole day but never got too close. We got about a 5 minute shower but luckily made it to the shelter for lunch just as it started to pour the hardest.
T-Bone and Sensei were already at the cabin when we arrived so we cracked a bunch of jokes and had a nice lunch while it was raining. Coconut and Tomb Raider were apparently going pretty slow as they never made it to the hut while we were there.
The trail after the lunch was pretty similar to the first half of the day – not hilly, mostly in the pine forest, a bit overgrown but lushiously green. I was tired from the hiking, of course, but listening to podcasts made the time fly faster. After the hut the trail got very rocky and was a bit painful to walk on but the trail workers had definitely done a good job here.
We had 10 miles to go to the road by which there was a river and where we planned to stay. I finally reached the camp at around 20, whereas Kristians had already set up the tent and was washing himself in the stream. I proceeded to also wash myself and get ready for dinner, T-Bone was already making the campfire.
Coconut and Tomb Raider arrived when we were nearly done with the dinner – apparently Coconut had been having problems with his ankle again. We all went to bed at around 21 to rest up for the next day’s 25 miles.
After a great, deep sleep we woke up fresh at about 6:30 and saw that T-Bone and Sensei were already ready to go. We agreed upon a lunchbreak spot by Christie’s Creek and said goodbye. We had our usual slow morning – breakfast & tea, brushing teeth, filling in water, washing dishes and packing up. When we set off Coconut & Tomb Raider had just got out of tent so we just said we’d catch up later.
Just about five minutes after the start we passed by a signpost under which there were beers & a note: to PCT hikers. Kristians walked ahead of me and went straight past so I figured he didn’t want to carry the extra weight. Later I found out, however, that he didn’t even see it!
The morning went fast, especially due to listening to some podcasts. The trail was again relatively flat and went mainly through forests, occasionally giving us views of the surrounding volcanoes. After about 4 hours I finally reached the spring, while the others were already sitting down, eating. The mosquito situation was pretty bad there but luckily Sensei borrowed us some mozi spray. The whole break was maybe 1h and 20 minutes because we wanted to wait for Coconut and Tomb Raider, who apparently were pretty slow again and didn’t make it before we left.
After the lunchbreak the trail started to go uphill but not too steeply. We needed to, however, carry water for the next 14 miles of the day (extra weight!). The uphill gradually led the trail up to exposed ridges fron where we could see the surrounding valleys and some forest fire smoke coming from what seemed to be NW. In the other direction, however, we could see the famous Crater Lake for the first time. I easily recognized it by the large islands that were inside the lake. At exactly the midpoint of this 14 mile stretch we took another break, looking at the lake. I had a snack and then nearly fell asleep – that’s how tired I was. But there was still 7 miles to go…
I was rationing my water so for the last 7 miles I had a liter left. But even though it was a clear-sky day it wasn’t super hot, I guess the thunderstorm the previous day had dond its job. The trail now continued on the ridges but then started to get back into the forest. The trail was often pretty rocky making it painful to walk on but luckily there were bits that were still on softer ground, too. I saw a black & yellow snake and then passed a junction where I saw Sensei’s pack: he had gone down a long and steep sidetrail to get water from a lake. I pushed on, already super tired, but I wasn’t far.
Just 3 miles before the tentsite I took a 3-minute snack break and then pushed on. One final climb over a pass and I could already almost see the tentsite. Multiple switchbacks then took me down into the valley and between the trees, where the mozi situation got pretty bad again. So I had to walk fast but luckily I was pretty much there.
At about 19 I finally got to the camp, washed myself in the mozi-infested stream and then joined others for dinner. We decided not to light a fire because it was a bit windy and we could already see huge clouds of smoke from the new forest fire. But at least it meant we got some cool photos.
After we had crawled into our tents and were almost sleeping we finally hear Coconut and Tomb Raider coming down the trail. We found out that Coconut’s ankle had been hurting again and so they’d taken a lot of short breaks. As the ankle was good for the moment, though, they had decided to hike into the night for a as long as they could.