Day 132 (Continued)
After lovely Bitsy dropped us off at the trailhead we started climbing up the trail through some burnt sections. There were still a large number of fires in the area spreading smoke though luckily not threatening our safety or worse, closing the trail. The weather was cool and windy.
As we walked we realised that there were a few things we should probably touch base on with our resupply person, trail angel Barb. So we sat down on the side of the trail and called Barb for a few minutes to talk. Next thing ya know a trail runner heading up the PCT whips two oranges out of his backpack and throws them to Physio. Awesome. Thanks! Score!
Once we set off again we soon passed the 2000 mile marker. Woo-hoo! Only 650 to go!
Then we climbed closer and closer to Three Finger Jack which actually looked pretty cool up close. We also soon started getting glimpses, and then increasingly impressive views, of Mt Jefferson.
As we approached some woods we decided to take advantage of the remaining views of Three Finger Jack and have lunch. We had decided to try an experiment for this section where we would eat bread and olive oil to be more like John Muir. The only thing is we’re not really like John Muir because we also had spinach-artichoke dip, cheese, and sun dried tomatoes. Our lunch of sourdough, olive oil and spinach artichoke dip was delicious and so calorific!
The yellow jacket wasps got real jealous of the party though and hung around heaps like creeps. We went through a burnt area, could see smoke from the Warm Springs fire in the distance. While on the ridge we also enjoyed excellent views south of many mountains we had recently hiked past.
We also passed a few good-looking lakes.
As we hiked into the evening Physio had to poop so Cashmere went ahead to reach Shale Lake and get dinner started. As Cashmere hiked on alone something quite weird happened.
It is fairly rare that we pass other hikers on the PCT unless they are stopped. We simply aren’t that fast-paced compared to other thru-hikers. Normal people are a different story. So Cashmere came upon a dad with three kids cruising down the trail. The dad was in the back. As Cashmere approached they didn’t hear her. She felt bad asking them to step aside for her to pass, particularly because the trail was cut into a steep hillside. She decided to just walk behind them for a little first. Then the dad farted and said, “see that’s why it’s great to walk in back, you can do that without bothering anyone”. Cashmere did her best not to snicker but then said, “except for me”. The dad started cracking up laughing said he was sorry and stepped aside. Cashmere said, “don’t worry about it. Us hikers do it all the time and that was nothing compared to my husband’s. Oh man.” It was all pretty funny.
Now ahead of the family, Cashmere cruised to the lake to make dinner. It was starting to get a bit cold though with the evening sun almost gone entirely. She decided she would need a bit of sun to cook dinner in so walked to the far side of the lake, which had some lingering sunshine. Physio was unimpressed when he had to walk all the way around the lake only to see the last bit of sun disappear behind the hills. We’ve started to notice the days getting shorter and the nights colder, making our stop-for-dinner-then-walk-a-few-more-miles routine increasingly difficult.
After eating dinner we had a bit of chocolate for dessert. When Cashmere was breaking it up she was unable to break it up along the proper lines they put in the chocolate. She handed Physio a jagged arbitrarily sized piece and he said, “what happened here?” Cashmere replied, “I don’t know, that kind of thing happens all the time when you live like I do”. Physio thought this might be one of the funniest things Cashmere had ever said and kept quoting it for days afterwards.
After dinner we walked another mile or so and set up camp. It was a bit of a windy night and pine needles kept blowing off the tree above our tent. As they fell and hit the tent all night it sounded like rain. We were relieved when we woke in the morning when we found our tent was actually dry.
We were still tired from all the excitement of Sisters and had a bit of a big sleep in to recover. This seems weird given we stayed in Sisters extra long to rest, but talking to other hikers, this sounds pretty normal. It’s a bit like in our ‘normal lives’ when we need the working week to recover from trying to do too much on the weekend. It turns out we get too excited in towns and often need a couple of days on the trail to recover.
We saw lots of other hikers we know this morning for some reason. ‘Two-tone’ came upon us while we were filling water by a stream and then we walked together for some time. Then after washing a few things in a creek next to Mt Jefferson we ran into a guy who looked familiar. He asked Physio “Are you Tomtit?”. Physio said “no, but I’m pretty sure I saw you in Warner Springs with Blisters. I was with Tomtit there”. It was crazy running into someone we hadn’t seen since 1900 miles before. His name was Daydreamer and when we first met him he was wearing purple silk pants. This certainly helped Cashmere remember him.
Daydreamer is trying to walk at least half of the trail with bare feet for some reason, so he was hiking barefoot today. It was funny to see his barefoot footprints on occasion in the dirt which looked more like an animal footprint than shoe footprints do.
As we continued walking the views of Mt Jefferson became more and more impressive. As we hiked around the mountain we were seeing bigger glaciers on the north side of the mountain.
Despite the vistas Physio teetered between frustration that we weren’t getting more miles done (we were getting distracted by hikers quite a bit) and then too tired and sore to walk very fast. It was all a bit silly. We did get held up stepping aside for some dayhikers and then realising there were about 20 of them in a row. Cashmere lost the plot and stopped stepping aside at about 18 and started running muttering something like. “I am never going to get to Canada!” Then at lunch as we were trying to eat peacefully a yellow jacket flew between her legs, which she moved as she didn’t realise she had a visitor and low and behold it stung her inner thigh. There have been yellow jackets everywhere!
After lunch we climbed up a ridge at first getting even better views of Mt Jefferson but as we got further away the smoke thickened reducing the visibility. Anyway it didn’t matter too much as we went over a pass and down the other side, away from sexy Mt Jefferson.
As the day progressed we tried to keep on moving. Cashmere particularly wanted to get down to Lake Ollalie because there was a store only a five minute walk off the track. Her dream was to get to the store in time to get an icecream.
Around five miles before the lake Physio had a call of nature. Cashmere handed over the pootensils and Physio handed over the cooking implements and we agreed to meet at another lake near Ollalie Lake.
The hike down to the lake was pretty uneventful. Cashmere arrived early and got dinner cooking. Meanwhile it was dark by the time Physio arrived at the Ollalie Lake junction. Physio was confused about the location of the agreed meeting point and without the phone or maps for navigation he overshot it quite substantially.
When Physio still hadn’t found Cashmere for some time he turned around and went back to the Ollalie Lake junction. After spotting each other’s headtorches we were finally reunited. However, Cashmere was grumpy and was not particularly happy to see Physio.
Cashmere had missed out on ice cream at the store by only a few minutes. The time taken to get dinner cooking had kept Cashmere from her ice cream. What’s worse in her ice cream feat she had to pass a hiker trash convention by a picnic table and turned down an offer of a beer and cooked pasta to make sure she made it back to meet Physio. She reasoned that it was all Physio’s fault. She was too worried about him getting ‘hangry’ to go straight to the store, and got dinner cooking first.
Meanwhile Physio arrived tired and frustrated after not being able to find Cashmere. However, he was about to feel Cashmere’s wrath on top of his existing problems. She had left her poles by the track for Physio to find them but he had missed them. We’ll spare you the details but actually it wasn’t so bad. Physio let Cashmere get her frustration out, then she felt bad, and we became friends again.
We both had a hiker trash wash on the edge of the lake, then camped just up the hill.
We got up fairly early to get a good start but even so other hiker trash were flying by before we had finished packing up. Later we learned two of them were trying to walk 52 miles (83km!) in one day to get to the Timberline Lodge. We weren’t quite so crazy but rather broke the stretch into two 26 mile (42km) days, a much more civilised feat.
We were feeling lazy about filtering water, so Physio walked down to the store where there was a faucet. He returned with three litres of water and two ice cream bars because the store had opened. Cashmere started to actually quite like Physio again, especially when he told her BOTH ice cream bars were for her.
The rest of the day’s hiking was fairly uneventful. The most noteworthy events were:
1) Passing under some high voltage power lines (oooh yeahhhh!)
2) Cashmere’s wasp sting on her inner thigh swelling up. Ouch!
3) Seeing tonnes of frogs on a log
4) A very entertaining hiker trash convention at a creek.
At the hiker trash convention we impressed section hikers by bathing our feet in the cold creek. Cashmere even upped the ante by sitting in the creek for a while in the hope of making her swollen wasp sting go down. One section hiker was so impressed he decided it was a “GoPro” moment and filmed it, interviewing Cashmere.
We also enjoyed talking about weird songs we had got stuck in our heads on the trail. With so much idle time our brains seem to dig up some really random material. In Physio’s case he told the hiker trash convention about a song he had randomly remembered from a peanut butter commercial in New Zealand that was probably on TV 20 years ago.
After Cashmere insisted, Physio sang “I’m an utter peanut butter nutter from Sanitariam, I get the freshest peanuts in the World and put them in”.
Section hiker: “So you actually sing that out loud on the trail?”
Physio: “Yes”. Then it was stuck in Cashmere’s head, again.
Later in the evening we made camp at an unmapped and slightly sloping campsite. At our campsite something truly magical happened. While hiking that day Physio had a revelation. We have olive oil…we have sourdough…we have cheese…we have a pot and a stove…WE CAN MAKE GRILLED CHEESE! So Cashmere cooked grilled cheese while Physio set up the tent and beds.
After dinner we agreed unanimously and without debate that grilled cheese was the best trail food we had eaten. We went to bed that night very very happy.
We started the day with flat uneventful hiking, though there were some cool signs about.
After around five miles things got a bit more interesting. We had decided we would have a swim in Timothy Lake at around mid-morning. We had read multiple counts that the lake was warm and great for a swim. To time this right we decided to walk to the north end of the lake. We wanted some sun because it was a cold Oregon morning so we picked the sunniest spot we could find. There was only one problem…the water was frigidly cold. It was so cold it was painful to even put a foot in for five seconds. Disappointed we squatted on rocks naked and washed ourselves hiker-trash style.
After a while two kayakers paddled down the lake towards us. Cashmere had finished up washing herself and had a sarong on. Meanwhile Physio was still squatting naked on a rock. Undeterred the kayakers continued closer until they paddled right past. Physio decided he didn’t care and continued washing himself anyway. It was all pretty weird.
After finishing up with our freezing cold wash we returned to the trail. After approximately another mile of walking we discovered the reason the lake was so cold. We hiked past quite a few freezing cold springs that were flowing straight into the end of the lake we bathed in.
After the springs the trail followed a ridge in a beautiful forest with very large trees. There was a huge valley below us and if you looked really hard through the smoke you could just glimpse Mt Hood on the other side.
When we finally came down from the nice forest and crossed a road there was even a sign warning about the ‘extreme fire hazard’.
Then we stopped for lunch at a trailhead that we had been looking forward to. Our excitement was inspired by luxury facilities including trashcans, outhouses, and a picnic table. It turns out we weren’t the only hikers (or people generally) excited by these high-end features: the trash cans were overflowing-attracting yellow jackets, the toilets stank and were clearly well-used, and we were soon joined by some section hikers. All of us squeezed in at the table for lunch. Physio and I (Cashmere) cooked our new favourite trail food, grilled cheese, and were soon the envy of the entire table. The other hikers sniffed and envied and we were too selfish to share the limited portions we had left. One lady remarked, “this is like someone bringing a six pack of beer to an AA meeting.” We laughed and then Cashmere awkwardly said, “you used to give trail magic to hikers down south, you deserve this. Maybe we can give you a half but we don’t have enough for everyone in your group.” Somehow she managed to politely decline.
After these lunch shenanigans we continued our climb on the PCT. We were hoping to reach the Timberline Lodge that evening so that we could camp outside and be well-positioned for the breakfast buffet in the morning. The breakfast was famous for being the best on the entire trail. We kept trudging along and passed some nice people who offered us water (but we didn’t need it) and gave us homegrown plums. Yum. Then we started climbing up Mt Hood. Despite the smoke and the unusually low snow pack it looked great to us.
The last few miles of trail was really steep and had some seriously deep sand, which was really hard work. We imagined how the guys who had done a 52 mile day to the lodge must have felt at this stage of their ridiculous day. They later told us they were screaming at the mountain.
To get a better view of Mount Hood we went and stood on the edge of a little cliff. We realised the cliff was actually a sandy overhang with an enormous drop to the glacial cut valley below us. It both excited and scared us at the same time. Those who are scared of heights may not wish to look at the below photo.
Just as it started to get dark, a bit after 8pm, we reached the lodge. The exterior was well familiar to Cashmere: it was used for the movie, The Shining. We found a spot in the trees relatively sheltered from the wind and pitched our tent. Then we scurried down to the lodge to see if we could still get dinner. The lodge was beautiful and impressive. We were sad to learn that the pizza place had already closed for the night but happy to learn there was one place, the Ram’s Head bar still serving food. It was reputed to be delicious but expensive. Lucky for us we have a very generous Trail Angel Barb who has instructed us very many times to get a meal on her credit card from time to time (or a little more). This seemed like a great opportunity:)
So we got a lot of very delicious and somewhat fancy food and a local beer each. It was sooooo good. Then we hung out a little later than usual with some other hikers (10:30pm) and finally went back to our tent, tired.
We slept in a little late and then headed down to the lodge for the famous buffet. However, before we started tucking into delicious food we realized we couldn’t find the battery pack we had left plugged-in in the lodge, charging overnight. Well that’s a bit weird. We asked at reception. They didn’t have it. We asked all the hikers if any of them had happened to remove it to use the plug? Nope. We also found out someone else’s camera had gone missing. But who would steal it? The guests are either rich (rooms there are $300/night) or hiker trash who wouldn’t want the extra weight. The battery pack would hardly be worth stealing anyway, it wasn’t worth much. It never was recovered. We did enjoy envisaging the thief being real gutted when they realised they had a battery pack and not a smart phone.
We decided we better go eat some food, maybe that would make us feel better. It sure did. The buffet was probably the best breakfast buffet either of us have ever had. There were eggs, cheesy eggs, homemade sausages, blueberry pancakes, waffle makers, berries and syrup to put on stuff. There was also the best granola/yogurt bar you’ve ever seen, fresh berry smoothie, and more. And it only cost $15/person, including coffee. For hikers especially, who eat a lot, it was a steal.
After making sweet love to our breakfasts we tried to get on with our lives. We went and picked up our resupply packages, stopped by the hiker box, and started our preparations to get back on the trail. Cashmere had eaten way too much at the buffet and was so full she felt sick and complained throughout these preparations. Physio tried to hold the team together.
We went out on the back deck of the lodge to sort out our resupply with views of Mount Hood. Cashmere finished pretty quickly and scooted into the lodge to double check our charger hadn’t been turned in (it hadn’t been) and send a quick email. Meanwhile Physio became a bit of a celebrity outside and had a steady stream of ‘normal’ people asking him questions about life as a thru-hiker. This happens sometimes but usually Cashmere is there to help field the many questions. It is sort of flattering but can become a little annoying when you just want to walk. You also start to feel something like a cross between a celebrity and a zoo animal.
Anyway eventually we finished all our tasks and set off. The next few days to Cascade Locks will be covered in our next post. Thanks again for keeping tabs on our adventure! We’re getting there…less than 600 miles to go.