Diamond Lake to Grouse Hill
The day of our first trail magic! We ran into Stu and Carol on the side of Highway 138, where a table and pop-up had just been assembled. Brianna and I both had a cold Coors Banquet for the drinking and a watermelon for the eating. I went a step further and ate an apple Stu had handpicked this very morning – tart! They are on the road supporting their nephew, Sweeper, and wanted to bring some happiness to the trail. How lucky are we? If we had left our 3-hour lunch/heat break any sooner, we would have missed them entirely.
Sunbrellas for Sun
Today was the day we used our sunbrellas for two different reasons.
It was a hot day straight out of the gate. An excessive heat warning was issued for the area and we were feeling it by 9am. Sweat dripped from my eyelashes down to my cheeks, even with moderate tree shade and my sunbrella fully deployed. We made the 9-mile goal from Diamond Lake to the North Crater trailhead shortly after noon and hunkered down for a planned 3-hour heat break. That’s right, 3 hours.
What could have been a dull time turned pretty lively when a new hiker friend and his dog appeared from the road. Meet, Smiles, and Zero. Smiles is what you might expect Jesus had looked like in his early 20s (the lost years!). Zero is what you might expect Jesus’s dog to have looked like, I’m not sure what the breed was, so use your imagination. As long as in your imagination Zero is about two feet tall, reddish brown color, and looks more like a fox than a dog.
I didn’t ask Smiles how he got his trail name, but he was smiling the entire 3 hours we spent together. As he recounted death-defying mountain climbs in a freezing rainstorm on the 4th of July, he smiled. The only time he didn’t smile was when mentioning that he needed to have his parents come pick Zero up off the trail. Zero was struggling with the heat and mileage, and while Smiles did not want to part ways, it had to be done.
Sunbrellas for Rain
3 O’clock finally rolled around and we made our way back into the sunshine. Brianna and I hadn’t traveled more than half a mile before running into the aforementioned trail magic. If someone offers me a beer, I take it, especially if it’s an excuse to dip out of relentless heat. Or maybe not so relentless? Brianna spotted something in the sky we had not yet seen in Oregon, clouds.
The world quickly cooled as clouds covered the sun and little droplets of water began to pitter-patter onto our heads and gear. “This is a gift!” I said to Brianna with real excitement in my voice. I’d much rather hike in a rainy 70 degrees than hyperthermia causing 90+ degrees. Furthermore, I think the rain came because of me.
Before leaving our lunch break, Smiles, Brianna, and I were chatting about how we all love rain and caffeine. Smiles had heard of Celsius energy drink before but had never seen it in single-serving packages like we got off Amazon. As a show of hiker love, I gave Smiles my last package of Celsius, “a gift from us to you,” I said with my own smile.
Now, stay with me here. If Smiles is a reincarnation of Jesus in his “lost 20s”, then doesn’t it seem plausible that he made it rain for us?
The rain went from slow drops to a somewhat heavy downpour. Sandy dirt turned to mud and the temperatures dropped to a cool 70. Northbound hikers passing us reported hail and sleet, but we never encountered any of that. The sun came back out just long enough to dry our gear and we made it to Grouse Hill Camp with little effort. Grouse Hill is a beautiful and huge site.
Thank you to all the trail angels leaving water caches! The cache in the bear box at the Grouse Hill area parking lot tasted better than beer!
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