Today was a fun day. I woke up fairly early and made good time in the morning on moderate terrain, went to a cabin for lunch where trail magic had just run out, endured six miles of rocks, then ran across fantastic trail magic, and finally headed up the mountain for a little night hiking under the power of a full belly.
Despite a lazy wake up, I was out at 6:15 after listening to much music. The days are definitely getting shorter, and morning seems to be the end really getting the short end of the stick. It seemed in the desert, that it got light quickly, and now the morning seems to drag on slowly getting light. Once I get to Washington, I will probably have to start hiking in the dark for at least thirty minutes just to be able to make the miles I need to do to finish before the snows hit. Joy.
I had camped just a few miles from a state park campground, so I headed there on the side road parallel to the trail so I could use their facilities. Sometimes, even using a pit toilet is a joy compared to using a cat hole. The campground looked deserted, I guess not many people like to camp on Sunday night. I also got rid of my trash which included a beer bottle that I was eager to get rid of. I also topped off my water.
I didn’t see very many people in the morning, but I did see a few people that I leapfrogged with a little bit. Water was about ten miles apart most of the day, so I filled up at every good water source. The one in the morning was a very cold and high flowing pipe spring.
There was a cabin that could be used as a shelter at a distance that I would hit at about 1 PM. I was sure it had a picnic table, and I had heard there was trail magic in it. I stopped at 11:30 to rehydrate my refried beans and eat a snack, then tried to pick up the pace to get there by 1 PM. It was not to rugged, so I was able to make it on time. When I got there, the picnic table was in full sun, and the trail magic was all gone. Too bad, because it was Coca Cola and Gatorade – the two best trail magics to find. Oh well, I made lemonade and two burritos and filled up on water again. By the time I left, eight hikers or so had congregated there. I went ahead and left shortly after 2 so I could knock out as many miles to Crater Lake as I could.
There was a road about two tenths of a mile from the cabin, and as I crossed the road, a car pulled up and stopped right at the trail. I was sure it was the trail angel coming to restock the trail magic, but I could not afford an hour delay hanging around to get a coke. But boy would a coke have tasted fantastic right then.
Shortly after that, the trail got very rocky. It was the sea of lava rocks you see in the picture paved with smaller lava rocks. It came in seas of 200 yards with short 100 yard dirt intervals. The small rocks had a way of finding the sorest spot on your foot and pressing right on it with all your weight. It was quite painful at times.
After checking the map and coming to the realization that I had about six miles of this wonderful terrain all the way around a dead volcano, I decided to stop and make coffee. I was beat and it was only 4 PM, but the coffee did its magic and I was able to pick up the pace. The lava paving rock also got easier as it was overlaid with dirt on the final three miles.
When the rocks finally ended, the trail popped out on highway 140. There was a resort two miles to the west. The thought of a real dinner and some rest crossed my mind. I vetoed the idea and crossed the road to get water at the stream across the highway.
As I approached the stream, my eyes got wide. There was another hiker and two angels parked there and they had quite a spread. They offered me a coke and a cup of ice. Score! I sat in a chair to drink the coke, and she kept bringing me food. Corn on the cob, a hot dog, chili and cheese on Fritos, beef and rice stroganoff, buttered bread, cookies, candy bars. They also had wine, beer, other sodas, and watermelon. For some reason, no one opted for peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. I’m not the only one sick of peanut butter.
I sat there for an hour eating until I was truly full. It was a fantastic feeling. The angels were a couple that worked at the resort down the road who had the day off and liked to come to this spot and cook for hikers. They planned to come back for breakfast, but I wanted to get in more miles before dark to make getting to Crater Lake easier the day after tomorrow.
I thanked the angels and headed up the next climb. By the time I left, there were at least eight hikers there. There was a campsite three miles ahead that I could get to before dark, and another one a mile and a half further that I would not get to until after dark. I went to the first one and it was occupied and the ground all around covered with dead trees. Time to move on to the second one.
I pulled out the headlamp and hiked for maybe twenty five minutes in the dark before coming to the second one, which was also occupied. This one was larger and had more flat spots so I was able to find a great spot about eighty yards from the other hikers. Perfect. I set up camp and only ate a light snack since I had eaten so much four miles ago. I was in bed by 9:35, not too bad for a busy day. And I was able to complete over 30 miles for the day, which helps chisel away at Crater Lake. Now to repeat the performance tomorrow. Sleepy sleep time.