Day 108: mile 1966.5 – mile 1989
Elevation gain: 3,103 ft
Elevation loss: 4,239 ft
Just like the PCT in Southern Oregon has been a night and day contrast from the PCT in Northern Oregon, so was the terrain for us today! We went from a lush green landscape with more wildflowers than we have seen in all of Oregon, to lava rock with very little foliage.
We were walking by 7am again, with not one other weekend backpacker even stirring in their tents. That will be one really nice thing when we get back to just our week long backpacking trips together…no alarm, leisurely pace, no agenda. But I do have to say I love the early morning light, the lovely quiet, and the increased wildlife sightings. All morning I felt like I was stopping every few minutes to take another picture. The amount of wildflowers we are seeing these last 2 days is astronomical! It started out really overcast, but as the sun started to peek through, the colors really bursted!
Then, like the flip of a switch, we were walking on lava rocks.
The formations all around us were really cool, but walking on the tennis ball sized rocks for miles did not make my feet happy! My feet have been great, shoes super comfortable for the first 1,700 miles or so. But since I got my last pair of shoes my feet have been aching a lot more. Most thru hikers find that their feet increase in length and width after a few weeks of hiking, but mine hadn’t at all. I thought it was probably because I had run all those long distances in the past, so they had already done all the “growing” they needed. But I’m so confused why all of a sudden they feel like they have grown in width. I started tying my shoes SUPER loose so that they almost feel like bedroom slippers, and they’ve finally felt better the last couple days. When we get to Bend tomorrow (yippee!) we will hit REI and I’ll try on some new shoes to see if they’re better. So…having my foot slam from side to side against all these lava rocks was not a fabulous feeling for sure. Plus the rocks were all in deep sand which made progress slower than normal!
We got to walk through the Obsidian Wilderness which was only 1.8 miles long. Our PCT permit allows us to walk through, but we aren’t allowed to get off the trail. The obsidian was really neat to see…there are tiny pieces all over the trail plus huge pieces all around. I’m extremely happy that we were able to see Obsidian Falls from the trail! We also got to collect really cold water from a beautiful stream in that Wilderness as well.
We stopped to eat dinner for lunch (refried beans with steak and lentils) after 13 miles, at South Matthieu Lake. We had dinner because this is the last water source for the next EIGHTEEN MILES! Ugh! So we don’t want to carry more water than what we will need for drinking the rest of today plus coffee tomorrow morning. Since it’s so cold today, the hot meal tasted extra fabulous for sure!
We have been seeing a TON of California Tortoiseshell butterflies today. They have all been flying south, toward us, on the trail. Then, when we got to the lake for lunch, there were hundreds of them just sitting on the shore. Are they resting before they migrate? Did they just hatch and are drying their wings? I have no idea, but I tried to capture them in this video:
We spent almost 2 hours at the lake which was so nice, but we knew the worst of the lava rock walking was yet to come. First we had 3.5 miles of a burn section.
Then the nightmare began…SIX MILES of walking on lava rocks of all shapes and sizes. As if my feet weren’t still throbbing from the first two sections earlier today! I had thought those were bad, but these 6 miles were in a whole different league. What should’ve taken us less than two hours to walk, took us three hours… It was slow, super frustrating, and downright stupid to be honest! I thought I was walking the Pacific “Crest” Trail not the Pacific “Annoying as heck Rock” Trail 😡 What made matters worse, was that I hit my head on a dead tree that was overhanging the trail. I was so focused on the rocks, making sure I didn’t trip and lay it out on these sharp objects. But that meant I wasn’t looking out ahead of me often enough. I hit it hard enough that it knocked my hat off and stopped me in my tracks. I shed a couple quick tears… It freaking hurt! But I was able to regroup and move on to the campsite after a hug from Link.
We finally made it to camp at 7 PM which is obviously way later than we like to get there. But at least we didn’t have to cook dinner, we just had our lunch snacks while lying inside the tent because it was so cold and windy. We met a SOBO thru hiker named SmackDown and he said the craziest thing… his sister’s trail name is DoubleDown! How random is that? She’s not on this trail with him, but they did the CDT together last year and got those names. Since it’s so windy, we tucked our tent against a wall of trees, which is in front of a wall of lava (imagine that!). So hopefully we will be sheltered enough.
We feel so fortunate to have such great friends who are supporting us during this journey. Our good friends Rob and Tamra, reached out to their friend in Bend and he is willing to pick us up from the trailhead in order to take us into the city tomorrow! So generous, and absolutely amazing! It’s definitely time for us to take a couple days off since it’s been 12 days, and almost 300 miles. And it’s DEFINITELY about time I finally shave these legs! 😜 Bonus…Maddie is flying in tomorrow night to hang out with us over the weekend! Max has to work and can’t join her, unfortunately ☹️ But we should be home in just 5 weeks or so, then we will all be reunited! One more piece of amazing news…Mantis & Pants found my pee cloth and will bring it to me in Bend on Sat so we can celebrate Pants’ birthday as well!!!
Overall, today was really great (minus the last 6 miles). The night and day contrasts really kept us entertained for sure! Thanks for joining along with us…DoubleDown