August 10, 2017, Mile 1854: Community

At Thielsen Creek, mile 1854

Orion and his horses were gone when I woke up. But Prodigal Wife and Bear Bells were there. During breakfast, she gave me a funny look and asked me what my real name was. Long story short, she’s also on Women of the PCT, and thought my online advice was spot on <blush>. Before we headed our merry ways, I gave her a hug, and Bear Bells took a picture of us together. Turns out she’s done a huge amount of the trail, including a stint in Washington last year.

Prodigal Wife and Rest Step

I headed out, with a better pace today, and started up the hill toward Tipsoo Pass 1858. This is the highest point on the PCT, in Oregon and Washington, at 7560 feet.

At the intersection of the PCT and the Maidu Lake trail, I met a couple of NOBO thrus. One of them asked me if I was SOBO. I said, why yes I am. She asked if I’d take a scrap of paper, with a poem. It’s for a NOBO friend of hers, who was behind the group for a number of reasons. I said, sure! and put it in my pocket. So my mission was to look for a woman in a purple shirt, whose name is Pilot, and who is hiking with a new hiking buddy named Ellie.

A couple of miles and maybe 500 feet of elevation shy of the ridge, I heard two claps of thunder, immediately followed by heavy rain. Given that thunderstorms and ridge climbing don’t mix, I put up my tent and tossed my pack inside, in about two minutes. Then I tossed myself inside, and settled in to wait out the storm.

Some 90 minutes later, I packed up and headed for the pass. On the way, I met a hiker named Cow Patty, a woman in her late 60s, who wears whatever she finds in the thrift store, and hikes with her dog. She probably has a heck of a backstory.

And then I reached Tipsoo Pass! There were several thrus, taking a break, passing by, and all sorts of things. One of them took my picture by the sign.

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One of my goals for this summer

I love chatting with people along the trail. You never know who’ll you meet, where they’re going, and so on. This community brings me great joy.

A couple of miles down from the pass, I met two young women. One of them had been off the trail for a bit, and her friend joined her. The friend introduced herself as Ellie, and the other said her name was Pilot. I looked at her, and said, “Wait a second, you’re supposed to be wearing a purple shirt, aren’t you?”

Pilot gave a holler, and threw her trekking poles up in the air! I dug out the scrap of paper, and there was rejoicing all around as she read the poem 😊

And then Pilot asked my name. I told her, “Rest Step,” and she said “I know what that is! I’m a member of the Mazamas!” This is the oldest trail group in the West, based out of Portland. I told her my backstory with The Mountaineers, and with my trail name, and they thought that was wonderful.

With the thunderstorm, photo op, and socializing, I was rather behind schedule. I needed to camp by Thielsen Creek, as that was my last water source before Diamond Lake. So I put the afterburners on, arrived at my campsite at 7:30, pounded an energy shake for dinner, and was in bed by 9:00.

As the sun set, I saw Mt. Thielsen catching the alpenglow in all its craggy glory. It was through the trees, but still lovely. There’s a reason it’s called the Lightning Rod of Oregon.

Mt. Thielsen in the alpenglow

My campsite is a wide open space, surrounded by trees and the trail, and I’m the only one here, lying on my back. The creek is a titch down the trail, and I can hear it from my tent. And there goes the Space Station overhead. How cool is that? <waves at astronauts>

Tomorrow, Diamond Lake.


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