The miles flow by like songs….
PCT mile marker 1947.7, camped at creek campsite
Miles hiked today: 16.95
Wow, I can’t quite believe I hiked nearly 17 miles today, and that was with starting later than normal at 8:15a, and finishing by 5pm! While I do think I’m starting ever so slowly to get some trail legs and lungs again, in reality the big part of today was that the hiking was just plan easy – not much elevation change and very gradual at that. Much more elevation change tomorrow, but my mileage goal is much more modest – under 14 miles actually!
It’s so incredibly….damp. It didn’t technically rain during the day today, but everything is saturated from the rain overnight. I walked through wet huckleberry bushes and other brush for most of the day, and at times the sun would peak through the clouds, at other times it seemed like it would begin raining again at any instant. For all of that, it wasn’t cold out today, definitely in the 60s, perhaps 70s. The breeze would be cool, but not chilling.
The trail continued its tour of central Oregon lakes today, and besides being uber convenient for water carrying purposes, so many of them where simply lovely. I had lunch at Horseshoe Lake, and stopped for a break at Dumbbell Lake, which was my minimum goal for the day. Either one I would have been happy camping at, but alas – too early to stop. The curse of the long distance hiker carrying a finite amount of food.
Why does it always seem to take longer to pack up when it’s rained over night? As it is actively raining of course it is more complicated, but I seem to dither more when my tent is wet. No matter what I do, the outcome isn’t changing – I’m packing it up wet, and hoping the sun comes out at an oportune time and location to dry it out.
I met several folks today – a SOBO within the first 2 miles who looked cold and unhappy, but he camped at Stormy Lake during a storm, I didn’t ask for details. He did tell me about a mama black bear with Cubs he saw 2-3 miles from Stormy Lake yesterday, apparently foraging for some late season huckleberries. During that stretch of trail I started calling out around blind quarters and in general chatting aloud to myself. Of course, as I do this particularly loudly “good morning!” I turn a corner and meet a pair of lady backpackers with trail dogs! They have been section hiking Oregon about 100 miles at a time, but had bailed on this section earlier this year when the mosquitos were monstrous. Considering they’re still making pests of themselves now, I can only imagine the horror during the height of snow melt season. It was so nice to see some more ladies out here, as well as some trail pooches! It only occurred to me afterwards that I’m just now used to seeing the pups out here in the west, when it’s so prevalent back east.
The next weekender couple I encountered was at lunch, and Mona was kind enough to immediately offer me her Deet as they were hiking out today, and I’m running low on bug spray. Saved my sanity this afternoon, that’s for sure! I’d forgotten the peculiar “feel” of 100% Deet, but the stuff works.
Half Lost, a NOBO who started in Tehachapi (what a miserable place to start!), passed me just as I was leaving Dumbbell Lake, and then I passed him at the next pond. We finally had a conversation the next (and last) time he passed me – he was making miles with Elk Lake Lodge in his sights, where he decided to hitch into Bend to leave the trail. He definitely had that “I’m done” look about him, though he was in good spirits. Quickly thereafter I met Yurt Man, who is hiking from Willemite Pass to Timberline Lodge to finish the last section he has of the PCT! He’s camped here with me, though off tucked in the woods so not much conversation beyond when we arrived. He’s hiking long mileage each day, so I doubt I’ll see him again. Another NOBO thru hiker couple passed camp, who is ending their hike at the WA border, we chatted briefly and I hope I see them tomorrow as they were going into Elk Lake tonight, so they’ll most likely catch me up again. All in all, more people out here in this remote section than I thought I’d see today! I kept feeling a mite envious of the couples though – I keep noting things and thinking “I wonder if others noticed that!” – while I can bring it up to passing acquaintances, that’s really what a good hiking partner is for, sharing both the large and small joys, as well as frustrations.
Autumn seems to be setting in with a vengeance – reds and yellows popping up in ever increasing amounts!
Gear minutiae: I chose the green thread for tonight’s sewing project. Sigh. I haven’t even patched the small hole I noticed in my sleeping tights when I pulled them on.
Health update: cough is better with the dust moistened down from the rain, but still present. How on earth do I keep multiple blisters clean amongst literally living in dirt? For all of that, the feet are doing well for another day. Just 2 and change until I make it to Sisters!
Time to wrestle out of my tent to pee, and then a little bit of Internet browsing – for some reason I actually have some data tonite!