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.

Now, because we didn’t stop and stay the night at Shelter Cove like I’d originally thought we would, we’re about 13 miles ahead of schedule. And it looks like we might be able to get to Santiam Pass — and a ride to my uncle’s ranch — on Friday evening instead of Saturday morning.

Today’s hike will send us past eight lakes: Charlton Lake, Taylor Lake, Irish Lake, Jezebel Lake, Brahma Lake, Stormy Lake, a “small scenic pond”, then Mac Lake. No wonder there are so many mosquitoes here.

We say goodbye to our lovely Bobby lake campsite while the mist is still swirling over its surface:


Well hydrated, we hike through cool forest in the morning, pass Charlton Lake, where we take a short break.

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After a while we go through a big burn area, where we discover there’s cell coverage, so I stop to call Jim and tell him we’re ahead of schedule. I also call my mom, and Marc checks some e-mails.

Burns are eerie places; like tree graveyards. The branches remind me of arms, reaching out. You see the true shape and personality of a tree when it’s not covered in needles and branches. So many of these trees are super tall and ramrod straight. I think of the name, “lodgepole pine” and imagine some of these magnificent trunks serving as center poles in a lodge, or as masts on a tall sailing ship. We had to clamber over a lot of blown-down trees, again. I imagine the fire roaring through here, and at the edge, I wonder how it can be possible that some trees were burnt to a crisp while others nearby survived unharmed. I took a picture of one that reminded me of some kind of large two-armed monster:

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We get to the place I thought we’d stop, the “small scenic pond” and decide it’s not really all that scenic, given the mozzies, and we might as well continue hiking as sit in our tent for three hours. We head on for Mac Lake, four miles hence. Another good omen: Rob would like this name, too, because Mac is how he addresses idiotic drivers. As in Hey, Mac, what the hell are you doing? Hey, Mac, get outta my way!

At Mac lake, we see a flat tent site down by the water, but Marc is sure there will be a better site “around the other side” — so we keep going. And going. We walk about half a mile until the trail starts veering away from the lake altogether before he admits defeat and we go back to the original site.

I think if left to his own devices, Marc would become like these crazy true-thru hikers, going 30-35 miles a day, dawn to dusk, cranking out the miles like the Energizer Bunny. HIS feet never seem to get tired or sore. Good thing he has me to slow him down, right?

It has been a long day. In the tent, I pull out the phone and recalculate. There’s a resort, Elk Lake, not far off the trail ten miles from here. It’s “hiker friendly”! We could stop for lunch! Pick up a few snacks, have some beer and lunch at the restaurant. A restaurant! We decide to do that, and from there just play it by ear. No plan is a good plan.

We’ve also heard that past Elk Lake, the mozzies aren’t much of a problem anymore. We’ve almost made it out of Mosquito Alley! Hurrah.

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