Day 24 – Day 30 : It Is What It Is
Day 24 – Side of Mountain to Side of Mountain (mi 1899.5 – mi 1882.6)
We woke up to 6 more miles of snow. We are struggling without our hiker legs and lack of experience mountaineering through snow. We keep slipping and exulting all our energy trying to stay standing. It’s proving to be a challenge, but it’s so fucking beautiful, I can’t get mad. I stop every chance I get to take a photo! We tried to reach a tent site, but the snow wiped us out so we found another snow free, dry spot on the side of Diamond Peak, and stopped for the night! All the NOBO hikers we passed today informed us there is a lot more snow ahead. We were approaching Mt. Thielsen and Devils Peak! I was excited and hopeful we could start picking up miles while being careful as hell!
Day 25 – Side of Mountain to Maidu Lake Junction (mi 1882.6 – mi 1865.9)
I’m so grateful for what I have today! My gear is COMING THROUGH!!! I have what I need and that’s all you can really ask for. The bugs are back and if I didn’t have my bug net these mother fuckers would set up camp in my eye balls!
There is less snow today as we get closer to the monster that is Mt. Thielsen. We stop on the side of a mountain for a little break. I sat for a second on a tiny rock sticking out of the mountain. As I slid off the rock I felt my very expensive rain pants snag. I felt around to see if there was a hole and I couldn’t feel anything. Then I went to step over another fucking fallen tree and I felt a solid rip go down my butt! Awesome! What am I supposed to do now? I have no way of fixing them and we are 5 days from seeing Toby. When we set up camp I examined the damage.
I have to continue wearing these because without them my legs would become one big mosquito bite. This hole is only going to keep getting worse and unfortunately REI won’t take back items with “regular wear and tear”! I mean $125 pants shouldn’t rip so easily! Now I’m out $125 for pants I wore one fucking day, but it is what it is. If I let this continue to bother me I’ll be wasting my precious energy. You just have to deal with your circumstances! And by “deal” I mean get over it and move on. Like a bad relationship. On the plus side the tent site we were sleeping at was a 20 min walk from a lake. After we set up camp, we debated if the lake and that 20 minute walk were worth it. We ultimately decided to go, thinking it would be a mistake to miss out on a foot soaking and a pretty view! We grabbed dinner, the water filter, and stuff we wanted to rinse out and made our way. It was fucking GORGEOUS! SO WORTH IT! I can’t believe we almost didn’t go!
Obviously our mosquito friends were feasting on our centimeters of exposed skin, which made what could have been a lovely experience, annoying as fuck! I try to remember I’m in their territory and I need to adapt to them. Pretend it’s normal to be a blood bank for tiny flying stingers. They are everywhere and we don’t have the means to make them extinct, so again, it is what it is. After I soaked my feet, ate, and washed my pee rag and bandana, we walked the 20 minutes back to camp. Slightly refreshed and rejuvenated with a few more bites to try not to itch, we went to bed! Dreaming about mass murdering mosquitoes!
Day 26 – Maidu Lake Junction to Tent Site (mi 1865.9 – mi 1847.9)
EVERYTHING HURTS! I’m worried this pack may not be for me! Which sucks because I do love it! The pain is moving around! It went from my hips to my lower back! The pain knocked the wind out of me! Gasping for air as I tried to move past the blinding pain in my back. It finally went away as I readjusted my backpack. Now I can’t put any weight on my hips. My poor shoulders are saving the rest of my body. Until they get hurt and I’m screwed! My feet are in so much pain. I feel like a duck, flat footed and waddling! We’ve seen a good amount of dogs out here! They always brighten our day with their happy faces and pep in their step. I’m starting to get over the fact that I can’t pee without peeing all over the bottom of my pants and shoes. It’s unfortunate. There was a good amount of snow leading to Mt. Thielsen. Snow we weren’t expecting. It wasn’t bad. It feels like training for what lies ahead.
Mt. Thielsen is very intimidating! Right before we started our climb we got water at a spring running under the snow! A spring we would have to gently walk over, trying not to collapse the snow bridge and fall in! It was so cool! A tiny waterfall surrounded by snow! It started sprinkling rain right before we left! We threw on our rain gear to be safe and started our ascent!
The snow leading to the top was nothing we couldn’t handle. Similar to Diamond Peak! I slipped at a very easy part, sliding a few feet into a tree. I got back up confused how I even fell because I’m taking my time and being careful! You can’t be cocky on snow. If you can fall at an “easy” section, how are you going to get through a scary section. I keep taking my time, clearing my mind, and staying calm. Don’t panic! You can’t afford to panic when you have scary shit ahead of you! When we made it to the top, the last stretch was stunningly terrifying. The most alluring view I’ve seen with a death drop. We had to traverse the mountain on a one foot wide path. You miss step or the snow gives, you’re riding down a snowy slide of death. Literally two feet before this section I fucking slipped again! The snow under my right foot turned to slush and I slide down feet up, ass first! I knew I’d be OK because I saw a rocky ledge I could stop myself on. To get back on the trail I had to kick divots in the snow, making little foot steps. At this point I was shaking. My legs where like “biiiitch no!”. I gave myself a second to shut down the fear, regroup, and try not to die. When I was walking across the one foot wide death trap I felt stable and pretty safe. Halfway across I pulled out the GoPro and took some pics and a video!
The adrenaline rush was real! Right before the downhill we saw a group of kids hiking up from a different trail. There were about 20 kids. It looked like a hiking summer camp. It made me think about how their parents probably signed them up and I voluntarily signed myself up for the most brutal, unsupervised fat camp. This is my fucking 6 month long fat camp! Exercise 12 hours a day and eat a few protein bars to get you through! Welcome to the PCT fat camp, Cheche addition!
Day 27 – Tent Site to Tent Site on Crater Lake Rim Trail (mi 1847.9 – mi ?? (off trail))
Headed to the Crater Lake Alternate Rim trail! I’m so ready for these VIEWS! The Rim trail is about 11 miles. We have to hike it all today because we are not allowed to sleep along the rim. There are campsites along it, but not for PCT hikers! We hiked about 8 miles to the Rim trail and started the 11 mile hike to the Rim Village Cafe on the other side. I was having a rough start today; my legs felt like 1,000 pounds. I thought once we hit the Rim trail things would level out. I don’t know why I keep thinking things will get easier. There was a huge and very steep uphill leading to Crater Lake! It was about 3 miles! When I got to the first look out I was wiped, ready for a break, and lunch! For the first time I really felt like I needed food or I wouldn’t be able to go on. I took off my pack and walked my tired ass up to the first look-out of Crater Lake!
It was insane! Captivating! Breathtaking! Freaking stunning! I didn’t want to move for the rest of my life. Then a squirrel came and stole the show. Two families and me started taking pictures of a damn squirrel we all thought was a chipmunk. Thinking it was a chipmunk only made it a little better that ten people were enthralled with a rodent instead of the thousands year old view. These golden-mantled ground squirrel were all over the place.
I finally go back, empty my trash, eat, and continue hiking. There were fucking stunning views every few feet! I swear I was stopping to pull out the GoPro every five seconds. There was still a lot of snow and more uphill, but who cares! I was hiking the rim of Crater fucking Lake! All of a sudden I wasn’t tired anymore. I was PUMPED! A beautiful historic view, some food, and a squirrel changed my whole attitude.
The rest of the hike to the cafe was unreal. I don’t understand how this exists and how I can just hike around the edge! We saw the lake from almost every look-out and every angle! We got to the cafe, which was expensive as hell, but we did not care. We were so hungry! I ordered a sandwich, soup, salad, and mac and cheese. I’m drooling just thinking about it. Tasted like success, although my wallet disagreed! We were thrilled to use an actual bathroom! This was the first time I looked in a mirror in 4 days! I was SUNBURNT and noticed something in my ear. It was a dead mosquito! I think I carried that lil guy around for days. Wonderful. We decided tomorrow morning we would come back for breakfast and go explore the lodge. We hiked 0.3 miles down to a tent site and passed out, full and happy!
Day 28 – Tent Site at Crater Lake Rim Trail to Tent Site (mi ? – mi 1812.7)
The Rim Village Cafe opened at 9am and obviously we weren’t heading out without breakfast. After breakfast we made our way to the lodge since we didn’t explore it yesterday. It is very rustic and historic. We really were not looking forward to leaving. We LOVE Oregon and we knew this was THE VIEW! We won’t be seeing views as amazing as Crater Lake for the next 100 miles, hell maybe even 200 miles. We continued to enjoy the lodge and cell service for a few more hours and then head out.
Due to our late start, we only did about 13.5 miles today! We walked through a lot of burn areas. It was very eerie! The Crater Lake Alternate Rim Trail was like a spa day. A spa day for my soul. I think I’m still riding the Crater Lake high because I’m loving this eerie vibe we hiked into. It’s bewitching.
When we made it to camp we ate and watched the sunset. A sunset I couldn’t take my eyes off of. Captivated, chewing on my protein bar. I tried to capture the colors with the GoPro, but this sunset couldn’t be translated to pixels. As a photographer that’s a hard pill to swallow. Some times you just let it be and experience the moment. I did take pictures and they are pretty, but that sunset was a lot more than just “pretty”. It was revitalizing.
Day 29 – Tent Site to Tent Site (mi 1812.7 – mi 1794.9)
Today was going to be our first 25er! We were off to a pretty good start! We got 13 miles before 1pm and then stopped for water at a pond for about an hour waiting on our water to filter. It’s been taking way too long. Losing that time is ridiculous. We decide we will go to the next spring and use Aquamira drops. When we got to the spring there were three hikers already there. A husband and wife, and a man with his dog. The couple talked for a little then left and we met the man and his dog. His name was Bee and his dog was Azzy. He walked over offering us a hit from his bowl. I wanted to, but we were only half way through our day. I’m sure I would have been fine hiking high, but I passed. He smoked his bowl and told us about berries. He could have talked about the different types of berries in Oregon and Washington for hours. We eventually found out he was going SOBO as well. He just came from Crater Lake. We asked if he saw Didge and One Week! He laughed and said, “Oh yea the dude with the didgeridoo! You guys must be the beautiful women that gave them a ride!” I had a feeling we would pass them without seeing them! So sad! We finally head off. This guy could have talked forever! He was a great guy, but we needed miles! We were on Devils Peak! Our last big snow section in southern Oregon.
When we got to the top we sat our happy asses down, took lots of pictures and texted our families. You always get the best cell service at the top! It was almost 5pm at this point. The water breaks, uphill climbs, and snow slowed us down, but it was OK because now we were on the downhill! We were going to make up that time. We started our downhill and quickly hit more snow. We were a little confused because we thought the snow was over. 0.8 miles later I checked Guthook and discovered we took a junction and are now on a different trail. The Seven Lakes Trail. We tried going off trail letting Guthook guide us to the PCT, which ended up being a very bad idea. The mosquitoes multiplied off trail, making it very difficult to navigate through the brush on the side of a mountain. Our main goal now was to find the Seven Lake Trail again and not panic. I was dripping sweat, swatting the most pointless insects known to man, and trying to remain calm. We finally found the Seven Lakes Trail and followed it back to the junction neither of us could fathom we missed. We wasted all our energy off the freaking trail. On the side of Devils Peak! It was frustrating as hell which made it even harder to get across the snow we already stumbled across once. Don’t hike in snow pissed off. You will fall. We fell a total of 3 to 4 times each. The Devil got us and took our dreams of a 25er away. Now we know how Devils Peak got its name. Once we got back on trail we immediately stopped for dinner. Depleted and defeated we found the closest tent site and decided to stop there getting a total of 17.8 miles. Not a terrible day, but not the goal. This tent site was not like any of the other tent sites we slept at. There were rocks sticking out of the ground everywhere. I didn’t have the most comfortable snooze. I needed to get some sort of rest because tomorrow we have to make up those miles. We were finally meeting Toby!
Day 30 – Tent Site to Highway 140 Fish Lakes (mi 1794.9 – mi 1774.4)
Our first over 20 miles day! I feel sluggish, but I know I have to keep going. That’s the one and only goal. “Keep moving forward”. I think of Walt and Disney movies a lot out here. “Just keep swimming” has been on repeat in my head since day one. Out here I feel seconds of “YES THIS IS EVERYTHING!”, feeling a sort of ‘hikers high’. Only seconds! The rest of my day is pure and utter hatred for the boredom and loneliness. I’m not mad at the pain. I can handle the pain because I can make sense of it. But it’s difficult to snap out of boredom and loneliness. Especially when you’re alone in the middle of the wilderness. Me and my phone. As I was hiking this morning I felt a sting on my right hand. I stopped and when I looked down, a fat furry bumble bee flew out from under my sleeve! I got stung! It hurt for a little, but I didn’t have anything for it so I just kept going and forgot about it. I’ve had to stop for a few more breaks than normal. I’m tired. Sleeping on a rock didn’t do me any favors today. Every time I stop hiking, everything surrounding me moves. It’s like I’m looking through a kaleidoscope! I chug water and keep moving. I reach another junction and follow the PCT arrow. I’m finally on the downhill! Thank God!
Toby met us on the trail about 2 miles from the road! It was good to see his face! It meant a good nights sleep, food, and REI!!! I’ve been looking forward to REI since my pants ripped 5 days ago! At this point my pants were shredded! My whole butt was exposed. My pants weren’t my only problem. At REI I exchanged my sleeping bag for a warmer one, my backpack for a pack that was the right size, got new rain pants, shoes, and more underwear. I WAS SET NOW! The trial and error period is over! I’m a much more experienced hiker now! When we got back to the RV my hand felt broken. It was extremely swollen and every time I tried to move it the pain was excruciating. I finally remembered earlier in the day I was stung by a gigantic fucking BEE! I took ibuprofen, rubbed some ointment on it, and tried to think about other things. Like getting ready to slack pack tomorrow! Now that I have all this new gear I’m excited to try it out, but we are slack packing for a few days so I’ll have to wait! Slack packing is basically day hiking. We just take what we need for a day of hiking and then Toby will pick us up at the end and take us back to the RV. This is going to help us get more miles and finish each day with a good meal! Can’t wait to catch up on some sleep!
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