Day 101 mile 1799.3 – 1820.9 (1 mile road walk to Crater Lake)
Elevation: ascent 2,431 ft, descent 3,044 ft
Today we were heading for Crater Lake, so we decided to get up a little earlier with the hopes of reaching the park and most importantly food. Funny how much food drives our decision making out here…HAHAHA!! Having the alarm set for 5:30 allowed us to see some great sunrise colors to the east, as well as a moon setting to the west. This past week’s full moon has really brightened the night sky.
Once packed up we were off heading down the trail. We didn’t get very far because we had to stop at a stream for water as this was our last reliable source for the next 20 miles. There is a report of a pond half way but it doesn’t show up on our maps and banking on this could be bad. On the way to the stream we met two guys out for about a 2 week trek, heading southbound. We traded some trail information and they told us we would be heading into some beautiful areas of Oregon in the next week or so. That was music to our ears!!
After collecting our water we continued to hike in the shade of trees and next to some meadows, that kept our attention and distracted us from our tired feet. Not much longer though, the green meadows and trees gave way to another large burn area. This burn section seems to be much more recent as the bark on the trees was very black and you could see the soot in the dirt, which lifted up into the air with every footstep. As usual with any of the burn sections we have hiked through, many of the trees have fallen and landed on the trail. Double Down and I had to hurdle at least 30 trees in this area. It actually was probably much more but we lost count.
Well around 11:30 we reached the 1810 mile mark which was where a water source was reported to be. Someone had even placed a cairn there to show the way. I grabbed a couple empty water bladders and headed up the hill not knowing what I would find. Reaching the top I found a very large pond covered in lily pads. I decided we needed the extra water to get to Mazama Village at Crater Lake. So I pushed aside the pollen, water bugs and tad poles as I tried to collect as much clean water as possible. Once my bags were full, it was time to get back to Double Down and filter this brownish water. After doing this and grabbing a bite to eat it was back to the trail and the last 11.5 miles to our destination.
As we neared Crater Lake National Park the burn section gave way to more healthy forests and we even got some views to the north. After reaching the park is when I hit my biggest hurdle of this trip. After over 100 days of hiking, sweating profusely, feeling dirty all of the time and just being tired I had a mental breakdown. The only thing I can relate this to was the first marathon that I ever ran. Talking to several other friends who I trained with for that marathon, we discussed how most people become overwhelmed with emotion at some point during their first marathon. Well that happened to me at mile 18 of the Catalina Marathon and it happened again to me today. You see both Double Down and I can put in the work physically to even hike 30 miles without any issues. The one thing that challenged me the most today was being 100% in, mentally. It would be so easy to just say I am done and that I want a comfortable bed and shower every day. So I, like many other hikers, battle this inner dialogue at this stage in the hike. Questions like, why am I doing this, wouldn’t it be nice to be at home and are you having fun, enter your head. Well today was my low point and I was so glad to have Double Down here at my side. We talked about all the reasons why we chose this adventure and what we expected out of hiking the PCT. These conversations while hiking helped me re-center my focus and get back to a good mental state knowing full well there was no way I can walk away from this now. Without each other we talked about how we both probably would have left the trail, as this journey is one of the best, yet most difficult, things we have ever taken on.
We got to the highway and turn off for Mazama Village at 3:00, but now we had another mile to go, mostly on the road to the Village. Once there our first priority was food so we headed over to Annie’s Restaurant to eat…OH YEAH!! Well that feeling of joy was quickly replaced by disbelief as we saw a sign saying the restaurant was closed from 2:30-5:30 as they transition from lunch to dinner. ARE YOU KIDDING ME!!! Trying to make the best of it we headed over to the general store to get some cold drinks and food. While there we found they had some frozen burritos and chimichangas. Great!! This would work in a pinch. So while we asked the clerk at checkout where the microwave was to heat up the food, we got the strangest response. He told us that someone didn’t plan it very well as the store didn’t have microwaves. What!! How are we supposed to heat them up, to which we got the response of, “Well you could put them out in the sun”. I didn’t tell him where I really wanted to put them, so they went back into the freezer.
At this point we decided to get a camping spot for the night and then head up to Crater Lake in the morning. Instead of walking the road to the campsite we found a nice quiet gravel road heading the same direction. We came out right at the spot where it looked like the PCT Hikers were allowed to camp (being treated like hiker trash as usual) away from the other higher paying customers. So we set up camp, got cleaned up and put on some clean clothes for dinner. Now it was 5:30 which meant we could get a real meal and we headed back down the street this time towards the restaurant. Well on the way there we noticed a sign that said PCT/Biker campground. This is when it hit us, we just set up our entire tent and sleeping pad in the wrong area….UGH!! So back we went and all I did was pull the tent stakes, throw what I could on top and then carried the whole damn tent back down the road to the spot where we were supposed to be. I wish we would have thought to get a picture of this because it would have been comical!! After re-staking the tent back down we could once again head to dinner.
At dinner the seating was slow as they try to limit the number of customers in the restaurant due to COVID. We were lucky to get a table outside and enjoyed our meal while being entertained with huge thunderheads in the sky.
After dinner it was back to the campsite to resupply for our next leg and prepare for the next morning as we plan to hike up to Crater Lake in time for the sunrise. Having a meal with my wonderful wife and discussing the trail has helped me feel so much better about being out here and enjoying whatever each day brings to us.
Thanks for following along with all of our ups and downs!! Link