Day 123: Little Crater Lake and some nice company

Day 123
August 19
mile 2074-2099.2
25.2 miles

The lady who was in her tent before I arrived last night was the first one up. I shifted around for several minutes, hearing her move in and out of her tent and then finally sat up. I still felt tired. As I ate my breakfast, the nice girl in the green tent came out and gathered her things for breakfast. She sat on a stump in front of a little table, near the head of my sleeping bag. The other woman joined her and asked about her hurt foot as they shared the hot water for their coffees. I listened for awhile and then eventually got included in their conversation. At some point, she started talking about how they had planned to have some of their resupply boxes brought out to them by their good friends in Portland. They quickly regretted this idea when they found that even after only a few days on the trail, they no longer had much in common to talk about. She said that next time they hike for several weeks, they will just mail themselves their resupplies and be more fully immersed in what the trail has to offer. I found her story to be very interesting, especially after my experience in Bend. I thought that the interactions with my friend from high school, who I have barely interacted with since, and who has a much different kind of energy than me, were difficult mostly due to personality differences, but listening to Ashley made me feel so much better about what I had been feeling. Ashley and Sean were very nice, relaxed, and cool people who, I would imagine, would get along with most people easily. She said that at home, they have lots of things to talk about with their friends and enjoy their company, but while in this experience, they were living in a very different world and found it difficult to connect with the kinds of things their friends were talking about.
I had been feeling quite exhausted the past few days and also felt under immense pressure to hike big miles every day. Another visit with this high school friend felt too taxing for me and not having the time to hike fewer miles would only result in an unpleasant couple of hiking days. Ashley’s stories made me feel better about limiting my outside interactions.
Puma walked through our site while I was still sitting in my sleeping bag for the second morning in a row. He gets up early! I called out his name and waved to him.
When I was ready to head out, the other woman named Peter Pan, was right behind me. She looked at her watch and exclaimed that she couldn’t believe it was already after 8. I looked at mine and said it was 7:53. She didn’t believe me. One of our watches was off…
I hiked up the hill and quickly found my own space. Each time that I took a break, Peter Pan caught up and continued on ahead. Then, I would pass her again.
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When I reached a little river, I decided to take an extended break to have my ice coffee and a snack. The sun was burning down strongly and I had to keep shifting to find a bit of shade under a tree. A family on horses, who I saw preparing on the road, trotted by me. Then, Tumbleweed came along and wanted to know if I had seen Puma. I hadn’t since he walked through my campsite but assumed he must be ready for a break anytime now! Peter Pan followed Tumbleweed as he continued on. He planned on eating lunch at Timothy Lake.
A little bit later, I found a nice bench along the trail and decided to take my pack off and rest for a second there.
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My intestines were still not doing well. I was at least glad to have found a bit of privacy in the woods behind my crowded campsite this morning, but the entire area was one big exposed bathroom with toilet paper everywhere!
From what my app was showing me, I wasn’t even sure if the PCT was going to go near the lake. I could see it down below and it looked to be turning away from it.
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However, I was pleasantly surprised to find that it did parallel it! I decided to take another break at the edge of the water. The temperature of both the air and the water was perfect for swimming, but again, I felt like I did not have time for that. Instead, I just put my feet in the water, keeping my shoes and socks on. I knew the sun would dry them out again soon enough. Some day, I hope to have time on a future hike to swim…
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I wondered where Tumbleweed and Puma were. I saw no trace of them!
I headed back into the woods and found a nice alcove to take a pack break. There, I found a text message from my high school friend asking when I would be arriving at Timberline. She was trying to make plans. My stomach twisted. I was going to have to tell her that I needed some space. I let her know that I was extremely exhausted, planned to eat, do my laundry, shower, sort through my resupply, and sleep, and journal a little if I had any extra time. I also told her that I needed to hike the 48 miles to Cascade Locks in 1 3/4 days. But I told her she was welcome to join me for dinner at the lodge if she really wanted to come out. As I was typing, I looked up to see a bicycle whiz down the trail. I felt bewildered and stared at it. Then, a second and third one went by.
I continued to walk and came to several signs telling bike riders that they had to dismount on this section and that bikes weren’t allowed on the PCT. These people obviously didn’t care.
Several miles later, I reached the side trail to Little Crater Lake and decided to take it. I walked along a nice boardwalk and came to a very small, very deep, brilliant blue lake.
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It was much, much smaller than I was expecting! Several people were there, reading the signs about it. I walked over to the grass, took off my pack, and took out my food bag. A little later, Tumbleweed and Puma came along! I was so excited and so happy to see my fellow thru-hikers and have some company that I probably waved to them about 5 times before they came over to sit near me. We all thought the fallen trees in the water made it seem creepy. Puma was the first to test the temperature of this ice cold water. As I collected some to filter, the boys talked about their next hike in which they would only hike 5-10 miles a day and have plenty of time to relax and enjoy themselves. I looked over and nodded, so happy to know that we all felt the same way. Thru-hikes are very stressful and exhausting!
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I gave Puma my tangerine. Then, an eclectic family came along. One girl really wanted to jump into the freezing water. She convinced her deaf relative to jump in with her. When she got out, she decided to do it again. It was quite the entertainment for us.
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The boys headed out a few minutes before I was ready.
A little while later, I came across an enormous spider web hanging across the middle of the trail! I had never seen anything like it. I carefully stepped around it and then took a couple of pictures, surprised that no one had knocked it down!
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About four miles later, I found them sitting along the trail, near a side path to a spring. They greeted me nicely and I went over to sit with them for a couple of minutes. The spring was only about 50 feet away, but I didn’t feel like checking it out. I had plenty of water on me. Tumbleweed was talking about how Peter Pan had assumed that he had lightened his pack over the course of his hike and how opposite that actually was. He had added more things as he went along. I knew exactly what he was talking about. That was what had happened to me on the AT! I felt like I kept my base weight fairly constant over the course of this hike and told them that I had never been a light-weight hiker. The boys looked at my pack and said it looked small to them! I am sure that was the first time anyone had said that about my pack! We all headed out together and continued the climb. At a small opening through the woods, we got our first glimpse of Mt. Hood.
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The boys wondered which part of the mountain we would ascend to get to Timberline lodge. As we hiked, I told them how I had been passing time by remembering what had happened at that mile into the hike, in relation to how many miles I had left. Pumas said he had been doing the same thing! “Really?”. I love how we all think and do similar things! They started telling stories about the beginning of the hike such as when they were trying to decide how many nights to spend at the Saufley’s and how many to spend at the Anderson’s, all based on wanting to stay ahead of the “herd”. I laughed, remembering how that was also a big concern for me! “The herd is coming! The herd is coming!”. They talked about hiking with Drama and how they were going to invent a chart app. We talked about why Drama left the trail and his interactions with SunDog and Giggles as he headed back to Tuolemne Meadows. “I’m done with this hiking thing! Possibly forever!”. It was so nice to have a little bit of company again and nice for my brain to get a rest from calculating how many miles I had left to hike over and over and over again!
They ended up calling it a night before I was ready to, when they spotted a flat area in the trees before the highway. They invited me to camp with them, but I told them I would rather hike a few more miles now instead of in the morning.
I headed down to the highway, got stalled when I found a register to read through, and then headed across the road, where I found a picnic table to take a quick snack break at. I ate a couple of snacks to get me through the last couple miles and discovered that Connie had sent me a text. She was now ahead of me at Timberline Lodge because she had gotten lost and scared while she was alone, but got rescued by a nice Indian family who was out picking huckleberries. She spent the night at a hotel in Government Camp and then restarted her hike from the point I was now at. I was happy that I was going to get to see her tomorrow when I arrived there!
I started the climb and reached a ridge as it began to get dark. Both sides of the trail were saturated with heavy growth. Things were not looking promising once again. I continued to walk until, suddenly, I saw a small patch of dirt to the left of the trail that looked big enough to cowboy camp. Still, I dropped my pack and walked on to see if anything looked better ahead. I found a fire ring, but no place to camp, so I returned to my spot and set up.
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As the sun went down, a male hiker approached and stopped very close to me, but said nothing. He was staring at his iphone, his face scrunched up. Is this really happening, I wondered? Finally, he acknowledged me. “Sorry. I’m just trying to see what mile I’m at. This is my first 40 mile day. Are you planning on getting to Timberline for breakfast? I can’t wait.” He headed on. I have no wish to ever do a 40 mile day and I knew I would not make it in time to arrive for the breakfast buffet tomorrow. Lunch would have to suffice for tomorrow.
I hunkered down and recharged my iphone. Around midnight, I discovered a text from someone who had not communicated with me for awhile. I wrote him back. I needed to pee and then realized this was the first and only night I had forgotten to take my headlamp out of my bag! I got up anyway.
Tomorrow, I had about 8 and a half miles, most of it uphill, to get to Timberline Lodge! All I hoped for was that I could eat without a lot of pain!

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