Archive for the ‘Oregon – E’ Category

Saturday, August 21, 2010 Miles Today: 31.5 Total: 1,972.3

Saturday, August 21st, 2010


Last night, a lot of clouds moved in, and this morning it really looked like “maybe rain.”  So we put our packs into “rain mode” just in case, before heading out along the trail.  We spent most of today hiking through the Sisters Wilderness “pond and lake” zone, which meant a lot of twisting up and down through rocky knolls in the forest, interspersed with mostly ponds (some with water lilies!!)  and a few real lakes. It’s damp here, and there were whole “lawns” of intensely green moss. The trees have long strands of graygreen lichen hanging from every twig. Finally we started getting glimpses of the Sisters mountains up ahead.


As we walked along, we’d been joking about taking the side trail down to Elk Lake Resort to get a big juicy hamburger, but when we actually got to the junction, it was a sad, sad sight.  There had been a forest fire, and the hillside was blackened and ashy, all the way down to Elk Lake.  Bummer!

But the farther we hiked, the closer we got to the Sisters, and our excitement grew.  “No getting lost up there THIS time!” we cheered.  In 2005, the whole Sisters Wilderness was full of snow, it was raining so hard that we could see no landmarks, and we got quite lost for awhile before relocating the trail. 

This morning, we were doing the climb up into Sisters, when we met a hiker going SOBO and stopped to talk.  Good thing we did!  He was actually a NORTHbound thruhiker, who’d stopped for a rest and then when he started out again, he forgot which way to go and headed SOUTH!  We were able to set him straight, and he hiked with us for a little while, but soon we left him behind.  We were hiking a lot faster than he was.  And by the way, Bill is feeling much better.  I don’t know if it’s the prospect of going through Sisters Wilderness, or what, but he has been able to hike right along today!

The PCT took us up to a green-meadowed crest, then down to the Sisters Mirror Lakes.  A number of people were camped there already.  We found a nice rocky perch by one of the lakes and ate our supper.  The sun even came out for awhile, and it felt good!  Our suppertime entertainment was a mama duck and her ducklings foraging along the shore nearby.  Then we shouldered our packs and kept going, till we reached the “high point” of the day, not in altitude, but in amazing-ness.  It’s called the Wickiup Plain.

In 2005, all we could see of the Plain was a wide pumice field, because we were in rain and clouds.  This time, we saw…wow!  The Plain is huge, and South Sister rises right out of it!   We were standing right next to the South Sister Peak, all snowy and gorgeous and magnificent.   We spent a lot of time oohing and aahing as we went crunching across the pumice.  And not only that, but the pumice was dotted with many tiny, dwarfed wildflower plants in bloom, all colors.   I wish we could have spent more time there, but it was late in the day, there was a very strong, very cold wind blowing, and we had to make more miles.

The PCT route is marked with a series of upright posts across the Plain, and this time, when there was a trail junction, there was actually a SIGN on the post to tell which trail was which!  There were no signs in 2005, and it was tough.  We met another thruhiker named “Symbiosis”, who told us about “Carhop”.  Carhop has a unique plan for thruhiking, which involves two of his own cars, so that every time he needs to go offtrail and resupply, one of his cars is waiting for him. 

We got across the beautiful Wickiup Plain and headed back into the woods.  We reached the creek where we lost the trail in 2005, and I was very curious to see where the PCT actually went!   Well, turns out it switchbacks WAY down the mountainside!  The forests and meadows right now are gorgeous–very green, and full of wildflowers.  Much prettier than our 2005 experience of snow and rain!


Eventually we stopped and camped in a grove of trees and set up the tarp, prepared for a very cold  and possibly rainy night. The clouds (which appeared to threaten rain all day) looked like they might (I hoped) be blowing away in the wind.  And best of all, with the wind and the cold–NO mosquitoes!!   And Bill is so much better–he can’t hike “on a tear” like he was before, but he was able to eat and hike at “normal” speed, all day today.  Tomorrow we get to see MORE awesome Sisters Wilderness! 

Walk with Aragorn to Minas Tirith: Brief rest at Meduseld in Edoras, then south toward Harrowdale


Friday, August 20, 2010 Miles Today: 24.6 Total: 1,936.8

Friday, August 20th, 2010


Since we camped last night near the RR tracks, I got to see some trains go by before I went to sleep, and one of them was an Amtrak train— on time, if I remember my Amtrak schedules correctly!  Amazing! I had no idea that Amtrak ran so close to Shelter Cove!  Other trains came by later on, but they were all freight trains.  I enjoyed listening to them–camping near a railroad is great! 

At 5:30, I started writing some journal stuff while still inside my sleeping bag, and at 6:30 we packed up and went to the store for breakfast–burritos, muffins, cheese, coffee and juice.  We ate on the porch of Shelter Cove store with a great view of the lake. Bill is definitely feeling better this morning!  He was able to eat (but nowhere near as much as I did).  I was still eating and organizing our data book papers, guidebook pages, etc. for the PCT coming up, and looking through the resupply box and hiker box to see what I might need to buy at the store, when Bill said he’d go hunt for where the laundry was so we could at least wash our socks. 

If I’d been paying better attention, I would have noticed that he was taking his pack with him, including his food bag.  So when I got to the point of inventory-ing the food bags, Bill’s was gone.  Oh no!  So I went off to hunt for him.  I wandered all over the place amid the cabins at Shelter Cove.  One of the employees there saw me and asked if he could help.  He offered me a ride in his golf cart, and we drove around looking for Bill.  No luck.  It was as if he had totally vanished.  I was very frustrated!  All I could do was go back to the store and make a guess as to what was still left in Bill’s food bag.  Based on that guess, I finished my food “shopping” and was loading up my pack when Bill finally came back.

It turned out that he’d been way off someplace washing HIS socks–he’d forgotten to bring mine!  He was annoyed to find that I was “still not finished” with the resupply, and I was very unhappy about not having clean socks!   Grrrr!  I had to take my socks and wash them in freezing cold water in the bathroom, while Bill waited some more.  It did remind me once again, that if you are thruhiking with someone else, and for some reason you have to split up for awhile, be SURE you are both really clear on who’s doing what and when/where to get back together!  I had been so preoccupied with sorting out the resupply stuff that I didn’t pay attention very well. 

It was still a very chilly morning when we started walking down the road by the lake, headed back to the PCT.  Good thing we are getting out of here today, though! Tomorrow is a big fishing derby, AND the start of the “Where’s Waldo?” footrace on the PCT from here over to Waldo Lake area.  Shelter Cove will be a total zoo, I am sure–glad we don’t have to deal with it!  We met Phooey again as we were doing the roadwalk–he was headed IN to the store, and was amazed to find that we’d beaten him to it.  When we told him we took the alternate, he said, “Oh!  So THAT’s how you made it here so fast!”


Once you get across the highway and back on the trail, the PCT out of Shelter Cove is very pretty— it goes by a gentle grade up tothe Rosary Lakes and on to some really fine views. The trail junction signs could use some help, though— they are very confusing!  There were also people out putting up signs for the race tomorrow.  We passed the pretty viewpoint where we ate breakfast in 2005–it has a great panorama of all the Rosary Lakes, plus Lake Odell and Crescent Lake.


Then the trail started going up and down, with some pretty big “ups”.  Bill was feeling better, but still not himself yet. He lagged behind all day, and I often stopped to let him catch up, even though I was not hiking as fast as usual.  In spite of the slower speed, though, my klutz factor still kicked in–I stubbed my toe on a root, tripped, and went flying down off the trail.  I landed on nice soft forest stuff, though, not rocks!  Thankyou, Lord!

The woods along the trail here are very pretty, but the mosquitoes swarm you the moment you stop, and at one point, we got to a junction and couldn’t figure it out.  We ended up on a quarter mile long trail that led to a lake!  Oh well, Bill needed more water, and he had to empty out his whole pack to get at his platypus, since he doesn’t stow it in the “hydration sleeve”.  While he was doing that, I walked back to the PCT and using sticks, I made a “PCT” sign and arrow pointing to the correct trail.

Awhile later, I was the one who ran out of water, so Bill waited while I ran down a 1/10 mile side trail to Charlston Lake to fill my platypus.  Turned out there were a lot of people at the lake–it is very pretty, and it’s near a road.  Based on the Where’s Waldo? race signs on trees, I gathered that Charlston Lake is on the race route for tomorrow.  A little while later, we stopped for supper, but Bill had lost his appetite again and ate hardly anything, so I ate it all! 

Then we hiked on for a couple more hours, through a forest fire zone that in 2005 was an awful mess to get through. It’s still a fire zone, but this time we didn’t have to climb over blackened trees and search for some sign of the trail.  The tread is now clear and well-maintained.  It was interesting as we walked along, to observe the differing degrees of recovery in the forest, AND the fact that the forest is just barren tree trunks made it so we could SEE two of the Three Sisters up ahead.  Awesome!  We met two guys hiking along with fishing poles, looking for the Lily Lake side trail.  We hadn’t seen it–all we could figure out was that maybe only the PCT tread had been cleared after the fire, and the side trails were still covered with fallen, burned mess.  We hadn’t seen a junction sign for it, either, but back in 2005, all the trail signs were gone–they’d been burned up in the fire–and the PCT route was literally marked with arrows scratched on rocks.  So all we could tell the fisherguys was, “Good luck!”  A short time later, we met their wives?girlfriends? walking along the trail, too.  We felt sorry for them–I don’t think they will be able to find the lake, which is out of sight to the east.

Eventually we made it back into green forest, and stopped to camp near Riffle Lake.  The mosquitoes swarmed us the minute we stopped, so we had to set up camp while wearing our “mossie gear.”  Since the lake was close by, we went over there to wash our very dirty feet and legs–but it was a fast wash!  The mosquitoes pounced the minute we took off shoes and socks!  While we were setting up our net tent, Phooey came by, and also two PCT SOBO’s.  Once the tent was up, we zipped into it and now we are very comfortable listening to the clouds of mossies whining outside.  We have a great view of the lake with the moon shining over it–very pretty!  Once again, I could only pray like crazy that Bill will feel better tomorrow.

Walk with Aragorn to Minas Tirith: In green meadows crossing many streams