PCT Day 121-123

Day 121

We all knew we had to wake up early – this would be our longest day so far, 33,3 miles (or 56 kilometers). So the alarm went off at 5am, we ate and set off last. Soon after the start Kristians had to take a toilet break but I couldn’t wait for him due to the mozi situation. I was feeling pretty fresh so I speedwalked and quickly caught up with Sensei on the first uphill of the day.

The trail was mostly in the usual pine forests, skirting mountains, but once in a while we’d cross a hilltop meadow. On one of these hills was a sign – high point of Oregon & Washington! We took some photos and then I continued on alone and fast – it was a long downhill section. Time flew and after 10 miles I saw T-Bone sitting on a log, looking at his foot – he had a big, deep blister that had been causing lots of pain. Here Kristians caught up with us and we carried on; T-Bone decided to try to walk without an insole and took some strong pain medication.

On the following downhill we caught up with Coconut & Tomb Raider who had walked 7 more miles than us the other day when on our way out of Mazama Village. We all decided to camp at the same place in the evening and have a small break at the next spring (16 miles for us) and take lunch at the water cache (at 22 miles for us). Here T-Bone also caught up with us as the pills were kicking in.

The next 3 miles to the break were super chill and went fast. We took a 40 minute break with everyone except Sensei, who was further behind. We had initially planned to fill up water here but the sidetrail to the stream was very steep and pretty long and as we all had over a liter left we didn’t bother. So on we went for the next 6 miles – I stuck with T-Bone as he was now walking in my tempo. We chatted a lot, which made a good distraction from walking.

At the water cache by a dirt road we had a long relaxing lunch in the shade. Coconut & Tomb Raider left a bit before us and Sensei, who arrived later, left last. A forest service worker also paid us a visit so we got an update on the fire situation.

The next 11 miles would be divided into a 4-mile uphill and a 7-mile downhill. To be ready for this section Kristians, T-Bone and I all took an energy shot – something we had bought in Etna, just for a day like this. I again stuck with T-Bone and we made pretty good tempo despite his pain. Tiredness made us make stupid jokes and it turned out to be an enjoyable sufferfest of hiking. It was hard to say whether the energy shot was working or not but it went pretty fast. We got some great views up on the ridge – of the numerous volcanoes, lakes and valleys surrounding us. There was also some smoke from the fire by Crater Lake but nothing ahead of us.

After many hours of downhill we finally reached the Summit Lake and met up with the others. Kristians had already set up the tent whereas Coconut was making a fire. The mozi situation was pretty insane but we could handle it. Kristians even went for a swim whereas I just washed my legs and arms by the shore.

We enjoyed our dinner by the fire, killing hundreds of mosquitoes at the same time. Kristians had a theory: if you kill enough of their ranks then they must stop at some point! …they didn’t.

Day 122

This morning we only had 16 miles to go to Shelter Cove for resupply, which is why we got up already at 5am. We had the usual morning routine – breakfast, packing, etc. It was actually pretty chilly in the morning – almost appropriate to wear gloves! As we walked in the forest and were shaded by the trees it also took a long time before the sun could warm us up.

For the two first hours I hiked behind Kristians, keeping up his insane pace. I felt like I had a lot of energy. Kristians then had to take a toilet break as I pushed on into the changing terrain – the trail went higher up and the forest receeded. Suddenly on my left I could see huge partially snow-covered mountains and to my right, down in the valley, multiple lakes surrounded by dense forests. The trees around me transformed into low bushes intertwined with green lush meadows. I passed a stream but needed no water so I pushed on.

Just some miles later Kristians caught up with me and we had an hour more until the next stream. Here I started to run low on energy, however, and couldn’t keep up with Kristians anymore. The trail went now back into the forest where we passed multiple lakes and pond – it was all green around us. I soon found Kristians taking a break on a log, eating a bar. I too sat down and rested and very soon both T-Bone and Sensei caught up with us, too. T-Bone was also low on energy so we deduced that we must be experiencing a “low” after the energy shot we had taken the previous evening.

We had only 6 miles to go and we decided to hike together…slowly. We kept joking that we’re almost there and somehow, even though we were tired, we soon got to the trailhead. From here we needed to turn to a dirt road, cross the train tracks and then walk on asphalt for a mile. Finally we reached the Shelter Cove campground and resort, set beside the huge Olallie Lake.

We met a lot of other hikers, ordered huge vegan veggie pizzas and drank unhealthy sodas. They had a big tent set up for hiker where we could hide from the sun, charge our devices and check out the hikerboxes. The guys felt like taking a nap so we did our resupply, combining the hikerbox goodies with the poor and expensive choice of the small store.

Coconut and Tomb Raider arrived just as we were hiking out of the resort to go and set up camp in the forest by the river (to avoid paying the 10$ for a campsite). T-Bone and I washed some socks and our legs in the freezing cold river while Kristians was already sleeping. But then we too got to take a nap.

In the evening we went back to Shelter Cove to get some more food and try to download a podcast (but the wifi was very slow). We also met up with Ramen Shaman, who we hadn’t seen since some time before Sierra City! He had just finished the Sierras and flipped back up north to continue. We caught up and he decided to also camp where we did.

So we got back to the tent late and finally went to sleep at around 21:30. Tomorrow was going to be a long day – hopefully 28 miles.

Day 123

Today we officially filled 4 months on trail – yohooo! But there’s no special celebration besides waking up at our normal time – at 6:30. Sensei had already got up and gone to eat once more at Shelter Cove whereas T-Bone was packing up to do the same. Aziz had lost his hat the previous evening so he needed to go and find it. Coconut and Tomb Raider were still sleeping so we had our breakfast and hiked the 1,5 miles back to the trail by 8am.

We had agreed with Sensei and T-Bone that we’d meet at Bobby Lake for lunch but because they went to eat they’d probably arrive a bit later. Kristians and I had a great conversation about our school days while we hiked up and around the Olallie Lake, enjoying great views. We mostly stayed in the forest but passed a lot of hidden lakes and pond – but it came with the price of many mosquitoes!

The first 11 miles went quite fast – not a lot of uphills and soon enough we got to the junction to Bobby Lake. As we got there we were all alone by this beautiful, big lake and thus decided to go for a swim and wash. How refreshing that was! Soon after four other hikers arrived but sat on their own so all we had to do was to eat more & wait for the others. We decided to also have noodles for lunch (first time to use the stove during lunch!) in addition to all the sweet stuff and as the water was boiling T-Bone and Sensei finally arrived.

As we were talking and eating we decided to reduce the day’s mileage from 28 to 24 and camp by Irish Lake instead of Brahma Lake. We enjoyed sitting in the shade on this hot day, being lucky to have some wind to keep the mozis away.

After our 2 hour lunchbreak Sensei took off first, then T-Bone and finally us. We started with a good pace and soon passed both guys. We had 8 miles to go until the next water source, Charleston Lake, where we planned to take a small break and meet up again. Once we got there after about 2 hours, however, only T-Bone arrived. We assumed that Sensei had enough water and thus hiked straight on. We sat around for a bit and filled up the water, thinking we only had about 4 miles to go. T-Bone was looking very tired as we left and we also felt the heat & exhaustion.

As we hiked out and pass an emptied cooling box of what was once trail magic, T-Bone checks his phone and says it was actually 5,5 miles and not 4! So T-Bone realized he might have not taken enough water but should be ok. The trail then started to go a bit uphill and T-Bone fell behind even though we were also feeling tired already. Soon the green forest turned into a burned forest and we were much more exposed to the sun – so it was very hot! We decided to leave one of my water bottles in the middle of the trail for Tom as me and Kristians had taken enough water.

After the burned section we got back into the green forest and passed a couple of lakes until we finally reached the Irish Lake. But as we were following the Halfmile app on Kristians’s phone instead of Guthook’s on my phone so the tentsite marked there was a different one. Therefore we ended up walking a half mile too much and then walked it back again, fighting the mozis.

Once we got back to the tentsite we had passed we quickly set up our tent and then saw T-Bone arriving. It turned out that he had had some sort of a “system breakdown” where he had to stop due to exhaustion and nausea and just sit for 15 minutes to recover. And he had also been very happy to find the water we left for him! He was doing good now and we all had a not-so-chill (so many mosquitoes!!!) dinner by a fire, washed ourselves in the lake and even saw a snake swimming in the water. But then it was time to go and hide out in the tent and get some rest…

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