Day 116: A nice ending

Day 116
August 12
mile 1922.2-1947.9
25.7 miles

I got up at 7 am and added some warm water to the Mountain House bag of scrambled eggs and bacon that John had sent me, and then boiled some more water for coffee, which I was not willing to replace with bitter tea. For dessert, I had poptarts. After I packed up my tent, I grabbed some more Old Man’s Beard from the branches around me and headed back to the trail. It was now 8:16! My starts were getting even later!
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In the morning hours, I encountered three older men who were section hiking southbound, who were in high spirits, and then a younger couple later on who did not say anything.
Even though the trail climbed, it remained in the woods. I was finding Central Oregon more quiet and peaceful, rather than boring. The tea was so far not aiding my intestines and I had to take care of the resulting problems a couple of times. I made it down to the junction of Charlton Lake and found an army box with a register in it. It was dedicated to AsaBat, who had passed away in this area. He was the man responsible for creating the very valuable water report that PCT hikers now rely upon to determine where it is possible to collect water in the desert section of the trail. The register asked hikers to write down any memories they had of him. I saw that Cowboy and Birdman remained 10 days ahead of me and that Smooth Operator was now 7 days in front.
I walked down the side path toward the lake, hoping it wasn’t too far off the trail and was happy to find that it wasn’t! However, there was a group of people talking loudly there. I found my own little area, collected water and then boiled water for my medicinal tea. While it steeped, I filtered the water and found out that the people near me were mountain bikers. I could also hear some children in the distance. The sun baked me and I kept shifting my position to find a little more shade. By now, all of the food that I had pre-boxed for myself back in April was stale. I had put summer sausages in several of the boxes and many of them had gone bad. The latest one seemed alright, so I had some of that for lunch, followed by plantain chips and a good amount of the chocolate/caramel bar that John had sent to help swallow the bitterness of the Guatamalan tea.
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After I ate, I packed up and silently headed back to the trail.
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I entered another burn area, which I found quite pretty in its own way. Flowers grow quickly in these areas and their color seems more vibrant against the deadened trees that they grow under. The sky was a pretty blue and provided a nice backdrop through the remaining trunks.
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The trail undulated softly and I arrived at another lake after about seven miles to collect more water. Unfortunately, my intestines were still acting up. I had a nice snack break with an ice coffee, snickers, and a packet of honey almond butter.
Then, I decided to listen to some music.
A little further up the trail, I was surprised to come across Muppets and Stilts, who I had briefly met at Shelter Cove for the first time. They were chatting with a southbounder. I made my way past them and continued up the hill. In the forest, I encountered a ranger, who I thought might ask to see my permit. He said that he was out checking for fires. He told me that ten of them had started today! He chatted for a couple of minutes and said he wished he could talk longer, but had to get moving. I did, too!
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My goal was to make it to Desane Lake at mile 1947.5. Daylight was running out! I stopped to take a brief snack break on top of the ridge and then got moving again.
At 7:20, I finally reached my destination, only to find two tents already set up there! The campers were already ensconced. I walked along the edge of the lake looking for another spot, but saw nothing. My heart sank. I tried to get down to the edge of the water so I could at least collect some for my dinner, but couldn’t figure out a way to get there, as the surrounding land was too marshy. I walked a couple more minutes and dejectedly sat along the bank of the trail, looking at my trail information. It appeared that the next lake was 1.6 miles away, which meant I would arrive after the sun had set. I decided I better try to walk as fast as I could.
Fortunately, there turned out to be another one that was closer! I headed towards it and found that I had the whole area to myself! How perfect!
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I collected water, looked at the reflection of the clouds in the pond, and then picked out a spot to set up my tent. I was having a tough time deciding which way to face! The mosquitoes had been out all day and they continued to bother me as I set up.
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I walked over to the lake to watch the clouds turn color with the setting sun and then climbed into my tent to boil water for my linguini dinner. I made some more medicinal tea, which I drank with some chocolate covered graham crackers.
It gets dark out so early now! I’m not looking forward to the earlier nights in the weeks ahead. As of today, I only have 5 weeks and 2 days left on the trail…

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