Saturday, September 1, 2018

Hiking the Pacific Crest Trail, Oregon section F (partial); to Santiam Pass, Day 2-2.25

Part of the trouble of camping near water is the inevitable condensation that occurs. As I stuffed a damp bag into my pack, I glanced over at the two thru-hikers who had cowboy camped within steps of the river. They had to be totally soaked. Bad life choices, I thought.

As is typical, I left camp before anyone else was even awake. I don't know how this happens, but it's impossible to me to sleep in, ever. Might as well get moving!

The trail meandered through a restricted camping area, where you need special permits. One of these was Shale "Lake", which in better times probably is really a lake. Now it's a stagnant puddle. Glad I hadn't made the effort to get a permit for that place, I continued on, spotting several intriguing lakes far below. A dog barked from the depths of the canyon, although I couldn't see any tents. A mystery.

The cool air that had blown out the smoke made for good hiking, but not for good lingering at breaks.  A few thru-hikers passed going north, bundled in hats and looking miserable. At almost 20 miles,  I turned the corner to encounter a tall man with an unusual belt--one I recognized.

"Um, are you a smokejumper?" I asked.

He looked puzzled. "Well, I was one. How did you know?"

"Your belt." Yep Yep was wearing an airlock belt buckle, one that smokejumpers use from old gear. We hiked along together for a little while, talking about the old days of firefighting. We hadn't overlapped--he had jumped in the 1970s and mid 1980s--but we knew a few common names. The trail is a strange and magical place, where you meet people you never would otherwise.

As the trail wound up over Three Fingered Jack, YepYep decided to go on ahead while I sat in the sun. At that point there were only seven miles to the trailhead. It seemed foolish to stop and camp; it was only 3:30. But then I found a perfect spot; it was foolish not to stop. With 21 miles done for the day, why not?

I've never had a lot of patience with people who say they get bored in camp; these are the same people who have to be doing something every minute and can't just be still. There is so much to do in camp. You can watch mountain goats:

You can read a book. You can look at your maps. You can explore your small stretch of real estate. I never get bored in camp. But I am pretty self-entertaining, a skill that I fear is being lost, even by me sometimes. So, it's always good to get practice in doing nothing.

The next morning I woke in a cloud. Stuffing a wet tent in the mesh pocket of my backpack, I threw on rain gear that I hadn't worn in months and headed down the trail. It felt like nobody else was out there in the fog, until I saw my good friend A headed in my direction.

Foggy morning on the PCT

She had come to provide me with a sign of celebration--almost finishing the Oregon section of the PCT.
The pesky Ashland to Crater Lake section remains. It seems to either be mosquito hell, on fire, or choked in smoke. Someday it will be mine. For now, a minor 350 miles remains on my PCT journey.


  1. Good on ya! This Oregon section sounds as if it was a very good "end" to the PCT hiking season (though, knowing you, it may not be!)

    1. The timing won't work out this year to do more. October is sort of iffy with weather. Oh well ..there's always next year.

  2. Do cool to mark one more section oof the list and know only one left to go. Nice to see Oregon being Oregon. Most of all proud of you for taking that extra night. 350 whoop whoop . . . One bite (step, plane ticket) at a time.

    Your friend the enabler.

    1. HI enabler friend, we all need a cheerleader! You'll be back out there soon!

  3. Glad you were finally able to make this section happen, and that the weather cooperated with you. The fog looks kind of eery though.

    1. I was glad I was close to the end and not on the exposed part!

  4. Yep, there is so much you can do in camp and not enough time to do it in. Then there are so many perfect spots to stop and comtemplate on, when hiking. I find it frustrating that time dictates one must keep the feet walking.
    I'm impressed that you are getting so many segments done recently.

    1. I agree, I sometimes pass up a lot of nice spots to make the miles. But I'd never get anywhere! This has been a good summer.

  5. Nice job! Glad the stars aligned for clear air & great weather for your solo section. Can't believe you only have 350 total miles left!!!

    How far is the section from Ashland to Crater Lake?

    We are in California right now & I just can't believe how dry it is, a stark contrast after spending so much time in Alaska.


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