PCT Day 13 – From one pass to another

August 5
Miles hiked: 20.5
Total trip miles: 263.9

We wake up bright and early and head back over to the PCT from our awesome campsite at North Matthieu Lake. Soon we’re walking on lava, winding in and out of ancient flows, making our way to the road and MacKenzie Pass. We’ve gotten an early start because the forecast is for a hot day. Yesterday we saw a very sunburned southbounder, who said hiking over the lava flow in the heat had been unbearable. From MacKenzie Pass I figure we have about 5 miles of lava walking to do, and early morning is the best time to do it.

We can see both Mount Washington and Mount Jefferson in the distance to the north, and the Sisters to the South. We make our careful way across the eerie, desolate landscape, trying to not twist our ankles on the rocky trail.

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PCT Day 12 – black glass and a blue lake

August 4
Miles hiked: 17.3
Total trip miles: 243.4

Today is going to be an easy day! It’s less than 40 miles to Santiam Pass, and only about 20 to the Lava Camp campground at MacKenzie Pass, where I think we’ll camp tonight. We start off bright and early, hiking through one gorgeous flower-studded meadow after another, watching the South Sister slip by us on the right and the middle Sister come into view.

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PCT Day 11 – Elk Lake

August 3
Miles hiked: 21.9
Total trip mileage: 226.1

Marc wakes up, as usual, to the beeping of his watch at 5:30, gets up, makes coffee and tea and starts the oatmeal, brings me tea in the tent. Maybe this is why I like thru-hiking so much: I get to sleep in and someone else is in charge of the food.

This morning we hike by lots more lakes, through lots more forest. We’ve decided to take a detour to Elk Lake, perhaps to call Jim, maybe to eat at the restaurant, maybe buy a few snacks. We’re getting to that “hungry” stage where the ginormous bag of cashews, almonds and pistachios in the resupply box starts to disappear way too quickly.

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PCT Day 10 – Lakes, lakes, lakes

August 2
Miles hiked: 25.1
Total trip mileage: 204.2

When I prepared for this hike, back in Vancouver, I sketched out a rough plan for how far I thought we’d go every day, based on tent sites and water, in order to send enough food in our resupply boxes. Once we actually hit the ground, however, those plans mean zilch. We hike as far as we want to. At  night, I take out the app and look at the water and tent sites ahead of us and we make a tentative plan for the next day. Continue reading

PCT Day 9 – Bobby the toad

August 1
Miles hiked: 22.3
Total trip miles: 179.1

In the morning, Marc wakes to the sound of a 747 flying overhead, only to realize it’s just the mozzies swarming around our tent. Bless him, he gets up and cooks our oatmeal and tea and coffee and brings it to the tent so we can eat unassaulted.

Again today we encounter only one other hiker on our way down to Shelter Cove, a day hiker. She says it’s probably the mosquitoes keeping people away. Ya think? We hike the 9.7 miles without stopping. Here’s what it was like (plus a morning shot of me in the tent): Continue reading

PCT Day 8 – mosquito alley

July 31
Miles hiked: 19.6
Total trip miles: 156.8

In the end we don’t take the Oregon Skyline Alternate. I’m just not comfortable hiking without a map, and Marc doesn’t like the idea of a shortcut. As we hike up the other side of Windigo Pass, we see a lovely flat tent site right next to the trail after about a mile. Oh, well. We had to have at least one crappy campsite on this trip, right? Continue reading

PCT Day 7 – OR-WA high point

July 30
Miles hiked: 22.1
Total trip miles: 137.2

As we hike away from Thielsen creek this morning, we look back at Mount Thielsen. Marc appears to have reached some kind of critical point of disconnect with work, and suddenly starts paying closer attention to his surroundings. He remembers that he has a camera in his phone and starts whipping it out at regular intervals, taking at least five shots of every pose I strike.

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PCT day 6 – hiking the rim

July 29 
Miles hiked: 26.4
Total trip miles: 115.1

We wake up, as usual, around 5:20. We want to get an early start, but the lodge’s free coffee service doesn’t start until 6:00, so while we wait, we eat the leftover cake from last night. Yum! As I catch the sun rising up over the rim of Crater Lake I meet a woman who is also setting out this morning, with her husband and 8-year old son. They’re “doing Oregon”, too, but at a much slower pace. I’m impressed. That kid is really lucky! Continue reading

PCT Day 5 – Trail angels

July 28
Miles hiked: 17
Total trip miles: 105.6

While we were eating breakfast, the tru-thru hiker we’d met the day before, who had camped a couple miles back, passed us at high speed, mosquito net over his head, waving hello. Man, they start early to get those 30+ mile days in. He’d told us he would only pause at Crater lake and continue on around it, heading for a hitch to Diamond Lake.

All day long I’m thinking of beer, ice cream, a shower. It’s really, really hot. The trail stretches endlessly on, the blowdowns a continual challenge to our concentration and patience.

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PCT day 4 – blowdowns and slowdowns

July 27
Miles hiked: 24.8
Total trip miles: 88.6

We wake up early and eat our oatmeal looking out over the mist-enshrouded lake. The mosquitoes are not terrible. We’ve done some serious mileage in the last two days – 24 and 26 miles, plus, and Marc is feeling stoked. I’m just relieved I’m managing it without too much trouble. Last year at this time my upper back hurt so badly I thought I had dislocated some vertebrae. Maybe all that crossfit and core work was worth it…

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