PCT: Shelter Cove to Santiam Pass

As I write this we have actually completed Oregon (!) but due to lack of good wifi or reception, the posts are a bit behind. Enjoy this first chunk of catching up! Central Oregon was characterized by a lot of smoke and a lot of lava rock and a lot of deer friends.

Day 106: Shelter Cove to Charleton Lake, 19.90 miles

After several days off in Bend, my husband and dog dropped us back off on trail. It was hard saying goodbye knowing that I wouldn’t see them for almost 2 months.

We began hiking past numerous lakes, which was a welcome change from the dry hiking in Southern Oregon.

Nik enjoyed the the gigantic rice crispy that he packed out courtesy of my mom.

We enjoyed the day back on trail and camped at a beautiful lake complete with car campers who canoed past our shore.

Day 107: Charleton Lake to Dumbbell Lake, 22.37 miles

We started the morning hiking through a pretty bleak burn area. We had heard that this area burned so hot that not even tree trunks were left.

There were views of the Sisters range but smoke was starting to obscure them. This would be the clearest skies that we would have for awhile as more fires burned and more smoke blew in.

In the afternoon we passed a long, high wall of volcano rock.

These old trail markers are always fun to see.

We saw so many huckleberries, which would continue through the rest of Oregon.  We definitely won’t be getting scurvy with how often we stop to pick berries!

Hello fren! This guy stuck around while we took a break and acted like he was casually eating around us but clearly just wanted to hang out.

Day 108: Dumbbell Lake to Pond, 20.49 miles

The morning gave us pretty meadows to hike through on the way to Elk Lake where we would make a detour off trail for some real food lunch. My feet were still pretty sore from our new shoes.  The newly rigid soles are really beating my feet up.

We grabbed burgers at Elk Lake and then climbed the extra couple miles back to trail regretting our decisions.

I took a nice break at a lake that had weekend backpackers camping early, making me jealous since I still had many miles to hike before setting up camp.

Shortly after my break I started to feel weird and sure enough my blood sugar had taken a sudden, steep downturn. I tried to eat some gummies and continue hiking like usual but I only began feeling worse. I ended up eating all of my day’s sugary snacks and then had to sit down and dig out more gummies from deep in my pack. This was a bad low that really depleted my low snacks and left me feeling gross but once my blood sugar started coming up I had to get myself together and continue on before it got too late.

Smoke continuously increased, obscuring what would have been some amazing views in the three sisters wilderness.

At one point I thought I had lost my mind because I saw a horse’s head in the trees. It turned out that a couple of people were camping there with their horses and had secured them to a sort of clothes line in the woods for the night!

A day would not be complete without deer friends!

Day 109: Pond to McKenzie Pass, 20.80 miles

We were treated to beautiful flower fields in the morning. Sometimes it feels like we’re walking through manicured gardens.

We entered into the Mt  Jefferson wilderness area and it was absolutely gorgeous.

For about a quarter mile, the trail was covered in obsidian shards!

We had a nice big climb and it was in endless lava fields. It felt like we were hiking through Mordor.

We ran into a PCT hiker from last year who had come back to do this section since it had been closed for fires last year. He’s from Sisters and even he didn’t realize these expansive lava fields were out here!

We ended the day with…more lava rock! These last couple of miles were loose rocks that threatened to twist your ankle, or at least bruise your foot pads, with every step. I finally hobbled into camp never wanting to see lava rock again.

Day 110: McKenzie Pass to Santiam Pass, 17ish miles

We began the day with…you guessed it…lava rock!

We eventually got through the rock and entered a burn area.

It’s crazy the relief you feel entering a live forest after a burn area!

We hustled to get to Big Lake Youth Camp in time for lunch and to pick up a resupply box. Unfortunately, they don’t serve lunch on Saturdays so we hustled for nothing but…

…a mile later we ran into Magic Mike and his awesome trail magic! We were treated to burgers and beer and soda and it was truly magic.

Once we reached Santiam Pass, we instantly scored a hitch into Sisters. Nik had a leaky pad that wasn’t holding the patch and a bug bite had swelled his ankle grotesquely so we decided on an unplanned zero in Sisters (which I’ll never be mad about). My trail name is “sister” after all!


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