At Big Lake Youth Camp, mile 1993
I raced through my chores this morning. The camp was four miles away, and I made it in maybe 90 minutes. It was a soft, gentle, downhill trail, which was perfect. I was an emotional and physical mess, and just needed a break.
When I arrived, I checked in at the office. They welcomed me with open arms, signed me in, and fetched my resupply. Then they sent me to the Hiker Lounge, which is an A-frame building being refurbished. Eventually, it will have a laundry, shower, and bathroom; for now, it’s a comfy, shaded place for hikers to hang out.
I sat down with my pack and resupply, and gathered my dirty laundry…because they DO IT FOR YOU! I then stopped at the shower, and lost five pounds of dirt. Whoa.
There’s a great crop of hikers rotating through. Noah is the camp PCT Liason, who took us all under his wing. The Brit Famiy Robinson (mom, dad, daughter Pippi Longstocking, age 13, and Captain Obvious, age 10) was there when I arrived, and shortly thereafter they headed north. Simon, aka One Pole, is an early-20s hiker from Belgium. Megan and Jeremy are siblings, and are doing most of Oregon together. Priscilla, aka Grateful, and her 14YO son Aidan, are southbounding a couple of sections, with their dog Max. Matt, with his canine companion Barkley, are also doing a few sections southbound. And Tim and Tyler are a father/son pair, from San Diego. Tim is doing the entire trail, while Tyler joined him north of the Sierra, after he finished his spring quarter classes.
At 1:00, we headed to the dining hall. The staff and hikers are fed first, to keep them free from the madhouse of 220 hungry kids. I had a *mountain* of taco salad fixings, and finally my brain started to clear.
The afternoon was restful. I slurped Italian sodas, hung out with the hikers, and asked Noah about the lava. He said that almost all of the northbounders, who come in off of the lava, are completely fried. So I don’t feel so bad.
This is definitely a camp. There’s the noise, excitement, activity, and everything that goes along with summer camp. But in the middle of it, there’s a niche carved out for hikers.
With each meal, I pounded the calories. The fog began to lift. And with that, the stress-free environment helped relieve the emotional overload of *constantly* watching my feet, focusing on each step, trying not to overheat, etc. I started to feel like myself by the end of the day.
At the end of the day, the hikers grabbed their packs and headed down to the cove. Because of zoning regulations, the hiker lounge can’t be used for sleeping. So we needed to toss our bags down on a little spit between a lagoon and the lake.
Cowboy camping (sleeping without a tent) was the order of the day. So with the sun sinking in front of us, and some of the guys out swimming in the lake, it was an incredible scene. I lay there watching the stars come out, one by one, and eventually fell asleep.