July 24, 2018: Hiker Trash in Mazama Village

At Mazama Village, Mile 1820.9

First, a bookkeeping note. Earlier this year, the trail was rerouted in Sierra Buttes, CA. This added 2.5 miles to the trail. So while last year’s start at Hwy 138 was at mile 1847.8, the mileage is now 1850.3. Mazama Village was 1818.4, but is now 1820.9. If you’re paying attention to the mileage in my blog, that’s what happened. If you don’t really care, that’s fine too! I’m mentioning this here, because today was the day I finished the Rim Trail Alternate, and continued south on the PCT.

In the morning, I headed back up the trail from Lightning Springs Camp, crossed the road, and set my sights on Rim Village. Rim Village is up on the rim (go figure), while Mazama Village is a few miles downhill from that. It’s completely out of sight of the lake.

This section of the Rim Trail was far lumpier than I had expected. Again with the preconceived notions: walking the rim of a lake is not necessarily a stroll along a flat beach. I did get a few more good views, though, especially as the heavy early smoke thinned to reveal Wizard Island.

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I stopped in Rim Village for a snack, and had the opportunity to chat with a mom and her two adolescent kids. They’re from Wasilla, where she is a firefighter. Their hike is from Campo (the Mexican border) to Cascade Locks (the Oregon/Washington border). More power to them!

Rim Village

After a bit, I headed downhill 4+ miles, to Mazama Village. I met a man named Dallas; we kept crossing paths. We talked about my concerns with the Hendrix fire, and he said he might be able to give me a ride to the border, from the California side, if that were necessary. Magic! I’ll shoot him an email if needed.

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And this is a good time to jump in with one of my big trail concerns. On July 15, one week before I left, there were lightning storms all over southern Oregon. With the high temperatures and tinder-dry conditions, there were multiple fire starts. One of these, the Hendrix Fire, was in Section R, which stretches from Ashland, over the California border, and into Seiad Valley. I was shut out of this section last year, and I really, really wanted to finish Oregon this year.

A few days before I left, however, there was a several mile closure on the Oregon side of the section. A detour was put in place, but it was really complex, with lots of tiny dirt roads and a couple of dozen intersections. That was changed a few days after that, to the dirt road thoroughfare, but I was leery of both of them. Navigation is one of the weaker links in my backpacking toolbox, and while I could certainly do it, I had a lot of other things to deal with as well. And this doesn’t even talk about the smoke. Needless to say, I was on edge.

hendrix_fire

The smoke was bugging me, and I was coughing quite a bit whenever I talked. So I was grateful that the trail was almost entirely downhill. I arrived at Mazama Village midafternoon.

The campground is fairly large, with seven large loops. The hiker-biker camp was naturally all the way at the end, but it was only five dollars per night, and had tons of room for tents, tucked into tiny sites. There were also a couple of picnic tables and bear boxes, in larger clearings. And this was the location of social hour. After I grabbed my cold water shower, I plunked down next to several other hiker trash (aka long distance hikers), and we had a great time hanging out for a few hours.

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I re-met Sam and Kylie, who shared the Grouse Hill campsite with me. They were a brother-sister pair from Missouri, who had spent months preparing for their trip through Crater Lake. Unfortunately, Kylie got altitude sickness after several hours of hiking on the Rim Trail. They were able to hitch a ride down to Mazama Village, and the decrease in elevation was just what she needed. They were in the process of rethinking their plans, and I daresay the camaraderie was just what they needed.

I headed up to the café around six, put my name on the list, and went to grab my resupply. I had brought my nearly empty pack (yes, I’m the brains of the operation) and just dumped everything inside. Dinner was fairly forgettable, although I appreciated the salad bar. And I got to text with Steve, which is always the highlight of the day 😊

I was a bundle of nerves, because of the upcoming portion of the trail. The next twenty miles were completely dry. I had to figure out how to make that work in conjunction with my slower speed and my increased need for water. Steve was very encouraging, and it was good to have him talk me down from my tree.

Mazama Village Store
Hikers with their fresh resupplies

There was more time around the picnic table when I returned. What was really great was that there were hikers of all flavors…sections, LASHERS (long assed section hikers), thrus, you name it. But it was all about respect and friendship. Every once in awhile, you get snobbery, but that definitely wasn’t the case here. Ben (Costco), Fire Socks, Kylie, Sam, and many more added a lot of fun to our evening. Love my hiker trash.

 

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