Aug 25,2000 Friday
Second day of "hike-like-hell, take-no-water," but still carried it up to a marvelous ridgetop site, looking south. Hiked about 17½ miles.
Sometimes its easy to just think about the numbers, and where the next water is. It's easy to get caught up listening for bears and deer, wind and water. Then I realize, it's time to stop, look all around, and marvel at the wonder of it all. We hike several miles east, and we think about Georgia. The trail brings us west, and I think about the westward pioneers. We hike north, thinking about our goal in Oregon, and larger still, in Canada. We hike south, for miles and miles, and can think about where we've been, and wonder" Why in the hell are we hiking towards Mexico most of the day?" But it's a beautiful trail. Last night saw two sets of twin fawns with their mothers near our camp. Saw 6 more deer this morning on the trail.
This is a trail that likes to test you, prove you. Is this mud seepage the last trail side water for the next 10 miles, or is there a better one farther up? What was that mini-jet that just zoomed past my ear? Oh, a hummingbird. Is this really an "abandoned" road we're sleeping on? Is this thing we just crossed: a) Road 38N10 b) an old logging road c) an abandoned jeep road d) all the above e) none of the above.
I have learned, you gotta have patience with the trail. It's not really out to kill you. Patience with my partner, yes he will stop for the night. Patience with myself, I didn't do so great today, but I'll still be at it tomorrow.
Aug 26, Saturday
Hiked about 14 miles today. We're in the Trinity Alps Wilderness and it's very beautiful. Panoramic sights, hawks, many does and fawns. We saw only 2 bucks so far since Sonora Pass.
Today while crossing Hwy. 3 to enter the parking lot adjacent to Trinity Wilderness camping area, three people got out of a Blazer and one elderly lady asked us if we wanted our picture taken. Seemed odd to both Rain and I, but we said sure and walked over. She snapped a photo with her camera, and Rain gave them his address. A few questions and answers, exchanged good- byes. Guess we must have looked unusual, like park bears, or something.
"Look ,Mildred , at these wild people I met!" she might remark, showing them our photo.
"My Goodness! Were you scared?" her neighbor would exclaim.
"No dear, Henry had a shotgun on the back seat."
Actually, all we could see in their Chevy Blazer was food. Hikers tune into that. 32 miles to Etna! One rule to always follow is never feed wild hikers. They might make the tourist-food connection. Start breaking into cars, campers, robbing campsites. Frightening the tourists. Then they'd have to be shot. A fed hiker is a dead hiker.
Aug 27, Sunday
Camped at a beautiful saddle, hiked about 14 miles. I have valleys both behind me and before me, and mountains all around. We are 2 miles out of Trinity Alps Wilderness.
Rainmaker is set-up and cooking on one side of the tent, I am on the other, our partnership is working great. After we set up our tent, we each go about our nightly preparations differently. Usually I get some coffee going immediately, Rain cleans up and changes first. He makes his coffee after dinner to go with his dessert. I eat dessert before and sometimes after dinner.
We both have mummy bags 1" shorter than our actual heights. They're very narrow and lightweight. Rain gets into his, and thus begins the stretching, shuffling, thrashing. Finally he gets the hood up and zippers up. A sigh. The battle won this evening. I handle mine a little differently. I sneak up on it, getting in, but bending my knees. I get the hood on and zippered up. Then stretch out. It works every night. Sleeping bags never catch on to this deception, and participate unwittingly to the hoax. In the morning I put all my gear and food on my Z-rest, and pull it out sled style. Rain takes 2-3 items at a time, placing them neatly and methodically in place. While I sit & sort my chaos, my coffee is ready and steaming. Rain contemplates his organized assortment while his coffee gets hot. We have most of the freedoms of a solo hiker, and all the benefits of a partnership.
Aug 28, Monday
Hiked 17 miles and camped on a crest. After picking up water 3 miles back, there just were no flat sites until here, 1.7 miles out of Etna. A wonderful site, though; and it was worth the effort to climb here.
This morning after getting, or better yet, TRYING to get water at Bovine Creek, we climbed a switchback and saw a huge pile on the trail. I thought, what a massive cowpie! But instead asked, "Did it have a baby?" Sure enough, a stillborn calf, still in the sack, with 20' of rotting umbilical cord lay smack in the trail.
At lunch we had to move aside for two women and their four horses to pass. These women started at Echo Lake on July 15th, skipped a section, and are continuing up into Oregon. We women had lots of fun gabbing away and I laughed when Rain finally managed to ask about things at Crater Lake.
Aug 29, Tuesday
Sipping steaming hot coffee, eating my last food (Poptarts). I watched the darkness give way to the ultimate sunrise. A sunrise is a gentle thing and it required patience to experience the total surround changes the crest site offered. There is a magnificent sense of peace and privilege.
Then, a 2 mile hike to the highway. No cars came, but we chatted with a friendly man who worked with the Highway Department. Up the road, where the tread resumes to Seiad Valley, a white blazer turned in. We quickly walked up, said some hellos, and the man returning to Etna was importuned by his hiker wife to give us a ride. Soon, we were polishing off a delicious breakfast at Bob's Ranch House. The Motel Etna has beautiful rooms, and they allowed us to use their washer and dryer. Only $40, that includes tax and we have the first air conditioning since we started the trail, a telephone and color TV. We are feeling very good. We have again been emphatically warned about the cats by a rancher. I don't intend to act like prey. Rattlesnakes are supposedly abundant up at Shelly's Lake, according to the locals. Their voices betray a sense of pride as we're told of the dangers.
Aug 30, Wednesday
We left Etna this morning and we're back on trail by 11:30 a.m. Thankfully, the local guys who dropped us off warned us about the total lack of water until Shelly Lake's Creek. Now camped there, after hiking 11 miles. I am learning how to navigate and read the trail guide, mainly in preparation for next spring's hike from Campo to Sonora Pass, which Rain has already done. We plan to meet at Sonora Pass on July 10th, and jump ahead to Crater Lake, finishing the last 826 miles into Manning, Canada. It's like Driver's Ed. Right now it's classroom. When we cross the Oregon border, I guess it'll be behind the wheel. Good thing my instructor has a brake on his side.
Aug 31, Thursday
Hiked around 14 miles. We haven't taken a day off hiking this month, so I guess we needed an early (4:30 p.m.) camp. Seems like the trail beat us today, large rocks and PCT signs with arrows crossed out and scratched over. It was very cold and windy. Rain and I are both concerned about a thru hiker we met yesterday. He hiked a couple miles past us last night. Saw his size 15 shoe on the trail this morning, and met a south bounder who'd talked to him around 9 a.m. His boot prints never came back on the trail after the alternate route rejoined the longer and newer PCT section we took instead. He was doing 20 mile days, and was in a hurry to get to Seiad Valley on Saturday, before Labor Day weekend closes the post office til Tuesday. We came through lovely areas today in the Marble Wilderness.
Sept 1, Friday
Last night, while eating and relaxing, Flat Feet, our friend, walked into camp. Because he is a purist, he retraced his steps, and that's what caused his delay. With a sigh of relief, he camped near us. We all awoke to the pitter-patter of rain on our tents. This was the easy part. Cooked breakfast in the tent.
Took down in a cold mist, hiked across open slopes in horizontal driving snow. Too cold to stop. Too cold not to stop and eat. Rain warned me I better eat, but the fingers were numbed to a handle gripping position. We knew if we could only get down from the 7,000' elevation, it would at least be rain. Hiking fast, not stopping for lunch, we made 14 miles by 2:30. The sun peeked out, a "sucker hole". We stopped and started eating, and it began to rain again. Packed up and did 5 more miles, camping by a stream. I cooked in one vestibule, Rainmaker in the other one. As we held onto the steaming cup of coffee, Rain commented, "It's the first time I've been warm all day." Welcome to September.
Sep 2, Saturday
Hiked 14 miles into Seiad Valley, sharing a 2 person bunk room with our friend Flat Feet (from Suches, Georgia of all places!). Cost us only $15 for both Rain and I, I will have a cot. I love it. Everything is right here. I'm clean, dry, warm, and well fed!
It's been raining on & off and we're resupplying. Getting ready to watch a movie, make microwave popcorn. A small fridge, wood stove, table and chairs complete this wonderful ensemble. The cook at the restaurant fed us, even though she technically closed 5 minutes before we arrived. Made fresh coffee and all. Am I happy? You bet!!
Sep 3, Sunday
We took a day off hiking, staying a second night in the bunkhouse. We got 3 movies to watch,food in the fridge and freezer. The storm is supposed to end today, and we'll be well rested for the remaining 169 miles. Flat Feet, Rain and I met for pancakes at the café. The three huge ones only cost $2.50. Midway through breakfast, we needed a refill on syrup. "Syrup Pigs!" The cook exclaimed. We all laughed. The cook is also the waitress and dishwasher. She is just a lot of fun to talk to and be around.
Sep 4, Monday
Hiked 11.1 miles today, climbing 4,500' It's very windy, chilly, and there are wonderful cloud combinations. Not sure what it will dump on us. We are both satisfied with our mileage, for a hauling out-of-town day. I have developed my method for evening campsite dressing. Dump everything out of my clothes bag onto my Z-rest. Put everything on except the mosquito head net and camp towel. Climb into sleeping bag. Cook supper. Maybe I should heat a rock to sleep with….
Sep 5, Tuesday
Hiked 17 miles. It's cool and windy, but the clouds have dissipated. Woke up to dense fog (I guess we were sleeping in a cloud). It was really hard to be warm today unless climbing in the sun, a rare combination. We both are ready to go home, anxious to complete the PCT up to Crater Lake, and make tracks for warm Georgia.
P.S. What do I use for a pillow now that all of my clothes are on my body? Ramen Noodles, my journal, "powders bag" (coffee, powdered milk, hot cocoa, etc), stuff sack for tent, and empty zip-lock bags placed in my clothes bag.
Sep 6, Wednesday
Clear skies this morning! Hiked 15 miles to Wrangle Gap Shelter, a picnic type shelter with woodburning stoves and a fireplace. All day long I thought about the immense pile of wood I planned to burn in those stoves, and be warm tonight. We crossed the California/Oregon border, just before lunch. It has a trail register there, so we caught up on trail news, and left messages also. Have been meeting some really great people, day hikers, and short section hikers. A lot of small aches and pains are surfacing but so far 5-6 Vitamin I's are doing the job. Had frost this morning.
There were 3 German women and 2 men at this shelter when we arrived, picnicking. They were quite amazed at our adventure and wondered how much further we were going to "march." One lady gave us fresh fish sandwiches and 2 cans of Coke with ice.
Rain and I have gathered a good stash of wood, including some from a busted up privy. Several cups of coffee apiece, a hot supper, warmed up toaster pastries and a warm nook. Looking good.
Sep 7, Thursday
Kept the fire going absolutely all night long, so this morning we could dress by the fire and have steaming hot coffee. Hiked about 20 miles, because the last part after Ashland Bed & Breakfast had no campsites. Camped on a private road, just before dark. These first 5 miles of Oregon are gorgeous, with plenty of water until the B & B. Very little bovine sign, a great relief to all my 5 senses. Rooms at the B & B started at $160 to $200. But she did give us water.
Sep 8, Friday
Took down the tent around 6am.
"No, sir, we didn't camp here last night. We just are eating breakfast " (just in case anyone asked). Hiked 2 miles into Callahan's restaurant/hotel. It's a tad pricey, but breakfast is free with the room and I know it's going to be delicious. Only 104 miles to Crater Lake. The people are very friendly and helpful, the room is so comfortable with cable TV. The folks here have arranged for a ride into Ashland for us, and a ride back, without cost. This is very hiker friendly! Going through our packs to send every extra ounce home, for the last section is going to be fast and furious.
Spending the night at Callahans, resupplying, met Brenda, Diane and their husbands here at the bar.(These are the horse people previously mentioned.) Then Cheryl, and Jim, and Charlie came in later to eat and we sat and enjoyed talking with them. Very good trail friendships .
I've come to the conclusion that water, contained , is a very valuable resourse. Contained in water bottles, our own bodies, a nice river or lake is wonderful. Its this stuff floating free and easy, or driving down furiously that causes all the trouble.
Maybe thats what some think of us!
A PCT GUIDE BOOK version of :
Directions to our room
From the dining area cross a table and chaired saddle (.002m) turn west until you see a ladies room. There you'll find a refreshing faucet, although late comers may find it seeping (.00012m) Decend north on an east facing staircase. Pass a room. Pass another good room. Pass an old abandoned room (.0035m)On an east facing west rising door you'll note the number 24 which has been posted since the new easier route was established in 1983. Head north. Open door. Close door. However, this won't get you to the Post Office. So, if you need to go to the Laundry Room, head east from your saddle. Those who complete this section may want to celebrate at the licorish bowl. (4,290-.003m)a seven way junction where intense PCT Register Logging is going on.
Sep 9, Saturday
We left Callahans after really eating a big breakfast, which was included with the price of the room. Taking them seriously that "hikers don't go away hungry" we ordered pancakes and french toast after demolishing full eggs, toast and hashbrown breakfasts. We hiked about 11 miles, reaching a small rocky campsite by Little Pilots Peak. It was warm and just a beautiful late summer day, although the night is turning cold. This is a nice section of trail, however water is a little scarce. Tonight got water from a faucet that is fenced in to keep cattle out.
Sep 10, Sunday
This getting up before daylight, fixing breakfast and getting dressed in the cold has its drawbacks. Looking forward to a light fixture, furnace, hot running water and soft things, like couches and carpeting.
We hiked 15 miles through fantastic country, although why they let cows roam at will is beyond me. They tear up the trail, disspoil all the water sources, crap on the treadway and play chicken with long distance hikers. So far I have won, even having 3 bullies dare me up to 10 feet away. Now camped at Hyatt Lake overflow on BLM land. It amazes me that even though there is no water except the lake, they still charge $7 per night. The lake has parasitic worms in it, the sign said, and will cause skin rashes and other problems. A really nice guy here gave us the last of his potable water, then took Rain up to get more for both of us at the resort.
One last thought. Whoever said Horses sweat, men perspire and women glow, has never hiked the PCT. I have sweated enough for the entire Confederate Cavalry, begging your pardon, Sir!
Sep 11, Monday
Rain said he's lost one bandana and a green coolmax t-shirt, and if that was all, he was satisfied. I lost some illusions.
Like the illusion I can do these 18 mile days without feeling it!
Anyways, now staying at the South Brown Mt. Shelter, built in 1993 by the Oregon National Guard. Very much an AT style. There is a central wood stove, and firewood stacked under the benches that line the three enclosed walls. Very toasty. I plan to stoke the fire before shelving myself for the night. Not sure about the rodent population, we will hang our food. There is a chain across the 4th open side, to keep the damn cows out. Rain has even become a carnivore. Saw a sign written by a PCT hiker, "The world needs more beef eaters. If it moos, shoot it."
Beautiful wooded trail today, well marked with white diamonds, and well maintained.
Sep 12, Tuesday
Made 18.5 miles today, camped on the shores of Squaw Lake in Sky Lakes Wilderness. So far the trail in Oregon has been very user friendly but the trail guide is making me crazy. The instructor, the Bear Chasing-Rain Making-Dog Macing-General has admitted his preferance for the maps and compass, and not bothering to make sense out of the this incomprehensible stuff. Some backpacking guy asked the General and myself if we were day hikers this afternoon. I beg your pardon? I am dirty and trashed. From Sonora Pass to here, these 770 miles have been one hellava long day hike!
Sep 13, Wednesday
As we packed up from our lake shore campsite, we tossed around the possibility of pulling into Crater Lake Thursday night. Two water sources on the data sheet make hauling water there a necesity. "Just think, no more getting up before dawn, making instant coffee by photon light."
"No more pasta!"
"No more masticating cows at 2 a.m."
"No coyotes howling at me while I'm changing."(Just as I was about to change my shirt by the lake, suddenly a chorus of coyotes was heard, directly across from us).
"Strawberry shakes, french fries."Rain dreams.
"Candy, a warm bed," I murmur.
The Magnet of Crater Lake draws us. 18 miles, for the third day in a row. Beautiful trail the first 10 miles, then rocky ledges and storms threatening.
Walking down the trail I passed a bright red forest service streamer, tied to a fallen evergreen. I took a few steps past and then stopped, turned around and went back. There underneath, a white card reading, "Brawny and Rainmaker, Good Luck, Diane and Dan. See you soon." And a 3 Musketeer candy bar. We split it evenly, savoring it right there. Thats what I call real trail magic.
Sep 14, Thursday
Hiked 13 trail miles and 2 off trail miles to pick up the last available water at Ranger Springs. What a marvelous water source, with ice cold bubbling springs. No one would ever guess there was a dearth of water else where. We'd meant to pick up on trail water 2 miles back, at Honeymoon Creek. Neither of us recognized the mud hole for the "Usually running creeklet" described in the guide book. Its just as well. The horse smell was potent there. Found a nice crest campsite, with trees all around. There have been some storm clouds passing through, but no other level places for mile, so we elected to take our chances with lightening versus rolling down an escarpment, or somesuch trail landform during the night.
Should pull into Crater Lake tommorow, kinda different preparing to shift life gears and get back to a peopled and motorized society. Hope I didn't forget how to run the toaster.
Sep 15, Friday
Hiked about 13 miles in. We've been hopscotching with a foursome, Ralph, Chiggers, Smitty, and his wife Shawn. Really great, fun people. When we got to the rim, they invited us to share some beers. Since neither Rain or I drink ,we declined and got some rootbeer and coffee and sat down to chat. So much fun talking and smelling alike, while the tourists here give us distainful looks. Hey, I even smeared liquid soap on my body, but I guess I still smell funny. Getting a ride to Reno from Brenda and Ralph, great friends, and then be rejoined with The Rocket.
A really big thanks to everyone who has helped us along the way, encouraged us, and stayed in touch. "Small" tokens mean a great deal in a person's life, their importance going far beyond outward appearance.
And especially, a heartfelt "Thank You" to Opie, who suffered through the torturous hell of reading and transcribing my journal. I will be forever indebted.
Crater Lake, OR 9-15-00
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