Day 122 (Continued)
So…once Physio had freaked out enough to get us moving we headed out of Mazama Village to walk some of the miles toward the start of the Crater Rim trail. While we had to start our hiking conversation with a few minutes of talking through Physio’s freak out, we soon found that, as usual, we soon felt better once back on the trail. Because we were only ‘nero-ing’ out that night and knew we would walk by a trash can (and hopefully a recycling bin) the next day we carried a few tasty IPA’s.
We walked around six miles (including a really steep climb to get things started) and set up camp just as it was getting dark. There were a few mosquitoes around so we wore our new Trail Angel-Barb provides mosquito headnets (thanks Barb!) and had a great dinner of a tasty beer, leftover pizza and spaghetti we had ‘harvested’ from the hiker box. Life was very good.
Unfortunately hiking the crater rim alternate results in a 26 mile dry stretch. Luckily there was a toilet block with running water, so we didn’t have to filter the 8 litres of water that we would be carrying.
After filling up and getting rid of some rubbish and recycling we began hiking around the crater rim. Within moments we were already rewarded with incredible views. Okay, so now we know what all the fuss is about.
The trail around the rim was steep and had a lot of seemingly pointless ups and downs. We had to constantly remind ourselves that the rim trail is shorter, so the ridiculous grade was okay. Physio in particular was not enjoying his heavy water laden pack, and seemed to be stopping every ten minutes to pee. Lucky we started early or things could have got awkward with the number of tourists who would be out a bit later!
After a few miles of struggling along Cashmere insisted we drop our packs and do a side trip to climb Watchman’s Peak (the highest point we would climb in Oregon and Washington). Physio was very resistant, but Cashmere’s stubbornness ultimately won out as usual.
The unnecessary slog up to Watchman’s Peak proved worthwhile, although Physio remained grumpy. We were rewarded with panoramic views of Mount Shasta, Mount McLaughlin, a raging wildfire, and of course the Crater Lake. What’s more we met a lovely couple who gave us a really delicious nectarine. The couple, although probably in there sixties, were very adventurous. The man was trying to summit the highest mountain in every US state while the woman wanted to cycle tour in every state. They were truly inspiring.
Once back on the rim trail we struggled on a couple more miles before stopping for morning tea.
The rim trail continued on more moderate grades until we reached a public toilet. As usual we couldn’t resist the opportunity to utilise the facilities and even did a cheeky hand sanitiser top up in there. Seriously hiker trash.
Eventually we reached the end of the rim trail proper, got our last views of the rim, and then began a flat boring trail that got us back to the PCT.
The main excitement on the trail back to the PCT was a huge mushroom cloud from the near by wild fire.
Once on the PCT the flat boringness intensified. We entered a long section of burnt out forest with no real shade from the early afternoon sun and loose sand underfoot. It was like we were in the desert all over again.
We decided to stop for lunch where we battled to utilise ever moving shade while spreading runny cashew butter on crackers.
As the afternoon progressed we eventually hiked into some unburnt forest and started to appreciate our lives again. After a while we passed an empty water cache and felt ripped off. Then we saw Bucket and Fancy Pants, who had set up camp at a junction. In a moment of poor judgement we set off down the wrong trail at the junction and hiked for around a mile before realising our mistake.
Physio was suffering an upset stomach from the “AIDS Juice” (Powerade ZERO) so took the opportunity to poop in the woods where hiker traffic would be thinner. Meanwhile Cashmere set off back to the PCT and went in search of a good dinner location.
We both independently passed a water cache that had water (hooray!) and then were reunited for dinner. Physio was still having stomach issues, but a hot meal was a welcome relief.
After dinner we pushed on into the evening, beginning a climb with steep terrain above and below the trail. Suddenly Cashmere joined Physio’s upset stomach party and initiated an immediate and highly romantic “Poo Date”.
We trudged up the steep bank with butt cheeks clenched and desperately dug our respective holes. Everything was going swimmingly on our date, and we were discovering all sorts of new things about each other. That was until 10 hikers walked past our not so well concealed date location. Cashmere felt terribly embarrassed, but Physio kept telling her there was nothing we could do.
After our embarrassing date we eventually found some flat ground and set up for the night.
The 124th day of our PCT adventure was not quite as dramatic or traumatic as the day before. After around five miles we reached Thielsen Creek (our first proper water source for more than 24 hours) and joined a water filtering party on it’s banks.
We enjoyed views of Mount Thielsen and hiked for quite a few miles with Whole Roll, who we had briefly met a Mazama Village. Whole Roll helped us maintain a good pace and kept us distracted from the inevitable boredom that results from spending all your waking hours hiking.
After a few miles we reached the official highest point of the PCT in Oregon and Washington. We imagined certain other hikers taking the opportunity to try and make it their “highest point” by taking “hash bong rips”.
When Cashmere stopped for a pee Physio managed to get a conversation going with Whole Roll about sport. The next thing he knew it was mid-afternoon and time to stop for a late-lunch.
The evening’s hiking was fairly uneventful, until we stopped for dinner at the Six Horses Spring. Cashmere offered to do the steep hike down to the spring to collect water provided Physio made dinner. At the trail junction to the spring there was another hiker trash convention including Whole Roll, Thunder Bunny, Bucket and Fancy Pants, and Treeman and Hedgehog.
As usual we pushed on a few more miles after dinner and found some flat ground near a trail junction to make camp. For whatever reason our campsite was really cold, and we found ourselves wearing more warm clothes than we had since the Sierras.
For the final stretch to Shelter Cove we decided to hike the Oregon Skyline Trail alternate. Our guide said it had more water, was significantly shorter, and we would reach a nice sounding lake around lunchtime. We also found out it used to be the PCT route.
Prior to the Skyline alternate we passed a milestone for those who are more metrically minded. Physio did another Eagle Spread in honour of Fabrice.
The only unfortunate thing about the Skyline alternate is that it is exceptionally boring. For this reason I’m going to skip straight to lunch at the lake. Our dreams of hanging out at a campground with flush toilets at the lake were crushed when we realised we would have to backtrack at least a mile to get there.
Rather than backtracking we bush-bashed our way down to the lake shore. Sadly for us there was a cold wind blowing and intermittent cloud cover that kept us from really enjoying the lake. Eventually, when the sun was out, Physio plucked up the courage to go for a swim. Cashmere never did.
The rest of the Skyline alternate was also boring, until we started to follow a creek for the last few miles to Shelter Cove. The forest was lush and beautiful and reminded us of New Zealand.
With the trail easy and an arbitrary desire to reach the Shelter Cove store by 8pm (we had no idea when it would actually close) we were ‘smashing miles’.
We arrived at the Shelter Cove store just as it was closing, but the lovely owner said we could come in and get what we needed. We quickly collected our packages, bought some cheese, and paid for our campsite.
Once we located our campsite we were delighted to discover it came complete with a picnic table and a recently serviced porta-loo nearby. We ate a hiker-trash meal and promptly went to sleep.
We decided we would nearo at Shelter Cove so spent the day showering, doing laundry, and enjoying trail magic from Clutch’s family. They fed us bocconcini salad (yum!), bagels with cream cheese, and even gave us a take-away baked potatoes with chilli when we were heading back to the trail.
Aside from the trail magic the main incident of note was a chipmunk getting into our cheddar and parmesan stash. For some reason Cashmere left her food bag lying on the ground part open. It was basically an invitation to any animal with good taste in food to have a cheesy feast.
We cut the gnawed section of cheddar off, but had to throw out the bag of parmesan because it was impossible to separate the good from the bad. Cashmere was distraught.
Cashmere went over to a hiker trash convention near the store to find someone to complain to about her cheese losses. She was incredibly lucky to pick out D.O.G and Julio who had just dropped a bag of Parmesan in the hiker box. D.O.G even helped her find it!
So it was that we set off from Shelter Cove with a restock of parmesan and two baked potatoes. All was right with the world.
The next post will cover the hike from Shelter Cove to Sisters. We hope you’ve enjoyed the read!