August 12, 2017, Mile 1770: Skipping Ahead

At Fish Lake, mile 1770

I dragged myself out of the (very comfy) motel bed, far too soon. But I had to finish sorting and loading, plus I had a breakfast to eat! Around ten, I turned in my key, and sat down to a lingering French toast breakfast. I like this “spoiling myself” deal!

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Diamond Lake, at the resort. Mt. Bailey is in the background.

Ginger and her husband Bill showed up at noon, with their behemoth truck (yes, I have truck envy). They took a day off from their family reunion, just to schlep me around the fires. They totally rock! We spent a couple of hours driving east and south around Crater Lake. The smoke was pretty obvious, and I was glad to not be breathing it!

It was really weird, skipping over an entire section. In this case, it’s 75 trail miles. I was mighty disappointed to miss Crater Lake, although from the pictures there wasn’t much to see (nor much to breathe). Hopefully next year.

Once we got to Fish Lake, I claimed my resupply box, plus ice cream all around. Yum! And then we opened up the box, plus my Diamond Lake resupply, on the tailgate of the truck.

At Ginger’s request, I walked through my resupply process. Basically, food is divided into four types: breakfast, dinner, midday, and beverages. I plan for n anticipated days, based on terrain, mileage, and current hiking speed. Then I add ½ day, just in case. I then put n breakfasts into the breakfast bag, n dinners into the dinner bag, and n+1 sets of midday snacks into their own bag. For midday, I’ll have a protein bar, a meal bar (I like ProBar), banana chips, Snickers and/or peanut M&Ms, and maybe something else. For my beverages, I have a Starbucks Via, plus a variety of electrolyte drinks.

Because I wasn’t doing Section C, I had a full resupply box that needed a new home. Ginger was heading out to do a six day section, the following week, so this was perfect. She cherrypicked, and then we took the leftovers to the hiker box inside. A hiker box is a place for hikers to leave extras. It could be extra food, like I was doing, or maps for somebody heading in the opposite direction, or a bottle of bug repellent, etc. I put my stuff in there, including a few items from PackIt Gourmet (a backpacking food company with really tasty, non-chemically food). The vultures descended, and I had a satisfied grin.

Ginger and Bill had to head back to the reunion, so we hugged goodbye. What a blessing, to have good, selfless friends.

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Ginger and I

Fish Lake is a much smaller, more hiker friendly resort than Diamond Lake. They have a small restaurant, with a limited but excellent menu. There are lots of tables and other places for hikers to hang out, sort boxes, etc. And there’s a PCT hiker area, maybe a tenth of a mile around the lake. I had a big cheeseburger for dinner, and talked with Steve for awhile. Then I got my pack situated, loaded up with five liters of water, for tonight and tomorrow, and headed to the campsite.

The only other hiker in the site was a guy named Randy, of about my age, from my neck of the woods. He had been hiking with his wife, but she had to get off the trail with severe foot pain. He was continuing on. We talked for awhile, while setting up camp, and I hit the rack early. Tomorrow, Section B.

August 11, 2017, Mile 1845: Relaxation

At Diamond Lake Resort, mile 1845

Last night was slightly interesting. I had just nodded off, aided and abetted by my trusty melatonin, when I heard thunder. I tried stuffing my fingers in my ears…la la fuzzy bunnies…but I had to admit defeat. It was time to put the rain fly on. Ever tried to do that when you’ve got melatonin in your bloodstream? For me, it’s problematic. Nevertheless, I managed to stand upright, figure out which way was which on the fly, attach the fly, and hammer in a few stakes. And I didn’t even fall over! Victory was mine!

I needed to get to Diamond Lake by early-mid afternoon. So I hustled through my camp chores, got water, filtered the water, and got more, and then I trotted off towards my destination.

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Mt. Thielson from Thielson Creek

Once I got to the day’s high point, the Thielsen Creek Trail junction at 7300 feet, I called the resort to see a) if they could pick me up at the highway at 1:30, and b) if they had a room. So I was scheduled for a pickup, at “whenever the maintenance man has time in the early afternoon,” and put on a waiting list for a room. I crossed every finger and toe. Which made for difficult hiking, but such is life.

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Mt. Bailey overlooking Diamond Lake.  Notice the smoke.

It was six miles of unabated downhill, it was fast, and it was fun. There’s something good about increasing your speed, when you’ve been struggling. So switch on the music, insert the headphones, because I have a date with real food.

I knew I was getting closer, because the highway is also the northern boundary of Crater Lake National Park. Hence, the sign. Plus, it had other cool information.

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Around 1:00, I reached the trailhead. It’s about half a mile off of the highway, so I couldn’t linger. There were three hikers there, one of whom was Old School (who I met later in my trip), and I had a delightful surprise. I’d seen pictures of Taylor, aka Yachti, online, and what caught my eye was her traveling companion…a four month old kitten! Manzanita, also known as Trail Bait, was adopted by Yachti in California. She was trained to ride on top of a pack, and would happily sit there all day long. By night, she had become a world class mouser, so much so that she hardly ate any kibble. Yachti and Trail Bait were hiking with a friend, whose name I didn’t catch, but who clearly liked giving the kitty a ride.

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The most adorable thru of 2017

I had to catch the van, so I headed south. Old School was headed that way too. His plan was to do Section C, but on the East Rim Road, rather than either the (West) Rim Trail or the PCT. As it was still very smoky, I was comfortable, if frustrated, with my plan.

Fifteen minutes after I reached the highway, the Diamond Lake van pulled up onto the shoulder. The driver, accompanied by two grandsons who bounced all over the back of the van, loaded up my pack and I was on my way. It was about a fifteen minute ride downhill to the lake, and I thanked him profusely.

I went into the lodge, introduced myself, and asked if there was a room. YES! It wouldn’t be ready for a couple of hours, but I was happy to wait. In the meantime, I had a gigantic sandwich, and prepared to do my laundry.

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Remember that bright white shirt?

Laundry, for a long distance hiker, is a bit unusual. Naturally you need to wash everything that is washable. Yes, all of your socks, all of your underwear, and so on. The one drawback to this plan is the dearth of other clothes. So you can either go full commando, or you can wear your raingear. My shell is fine, but my rain skirt is just a wrap. How to keep from getting too…umm…drafty? I have diaper pins (they don’t rust) on the back of my pack, and I use them for drying clothes on the trail. So I use those baby blue diaper pins to keep my rain skirt together. Hiker trash style.

Once I got the laundry back to the room, it was shower time. Nobody leaves a ring in the tub like hiker trash. Then I exploded my pack. This is exactly what it sounds like, except perhaps for the dynamite. Gear was everywhere, to be sorted, cleaned, and repacked. I got through a good chunk of it, and then headed down to the restaurant…

where I had PRIME RIB.

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Stuffed beyond hope, I staggered back to my room, went face-first on the bed, and slept for twelve hours.