29th July Olallie Lake Olallie Lake was a pleasant spot with views out to Mt Jefferson and a wooden ranger station and small shop. We picked up our resupply package and eat as much snack food from the shop as we could pack in.
Next day we head out towards Mt Jefferson through the forest in intermittent cloud. At Scout Lake we manage another swim, had lunch and took in the views over flower meadows up to the heights of Mt Jefferson. The way forward was to be quite similar for the next few hundred miles with forested undulating terrain then rising to traverse singular volcanic peaks.
Our immediate trail however took us up to a mist shrouded Shale Lake where we camped after 23.6 miles. Martina certainly was going strongly again! We met up with fellow thru hiker Woodstock here and hiked with him past Three Fingered Jack – a mountain which we didn’t see due to thick mist all day. In retrospect the mist was a bit of a blessing as it made for cool hiking temperatures and we were much less physically fatigued than when hiking in the sun.
The sun was soon out again though as we hiked past Mt Washington into a weird landscape of solidified lava. We stopped to stroll up to the top of Bell Knap crater for the views south to the Three Sisters our next destination. These three peaks rose up as snowy cones in a north-south orientation above the dark red lava based rock and intermittent forest.
We crossed Hw242 just past here in the burning heat of late afternoon at McKenzie Pass. We had both long since neglected to use any sun block cream and the sun’s rays didn’t really seem to have any effect on us even though we were exposed all day. We put it down to quickly developing a coating of sweat, dirt, grime and dust which was as effective a sun barrier as any! Our camp that evening was at lovely South Matthieu Lake on the north slopes of North Sister mountain which was planned to provide us with another superb soothing evening swim.
2nd August After a refreshing but cold pre breakfast swim we were hiking by 7am up into the great arena of old volcanic activity around North Sister. Surrounded by lovely lush green meadows and purple lupines it made for a scenic days walk as we skirted the heights of the snow covered Three Sisters. The scenery was fitting somehow as I had calculated that we had now hiked 1,330 miles – and that was halfway! We were jubilant that we had made it so far but slightly melancholy as well that we had seen so much, had so many things happen and yet it was only half of the journey. Could we survive the same distance again (?)- that was the question going through our minds as we hiked south and onwards.
Later that day we came upon a large outcrop of obsidian rock- obsidian is volcanic glass that has solidified extremely quickly after volcanic eruption. It would have been useful to locals to make arrow tips and blades and it was unusual to see such a large exposure as this.
In the evening we reached Mirror Lake for a cooling swim then hiked another mile uphill to find a clearing with open views back to the Three Sisters to pitch our tent. Our plan the next day was to deviate from the PCT by about 2 miles down to a small shop at the Elk Lake Resort to pick up some fresh (or just different!) food. We made the 5 miles hiking by 9.30am to find two other PCT hikers- Sideshow and Mensa. Sideshow is a bit of a character as he is hiking with an acoustic guitar! – albeit a ‘backpacking’ cut down guitar. Also there were the ‘A team’- two hikers and their hiking dogs. We had a good breakfast and stacked up on chocolate but found the owner a bit grumpy so we moved on fairly quickly.
Our days were now beginning to develop a planned structure here in lake dotted central Oregon. We would scour the maps at camp in the evening and work out which lakes we could stop at along the way for lunch, dinner and camp to maximise our swims that day. So it was that we had lunch at Dumbbell Lake- which fulfilled all our requirements; a cool, deep, secluded, clear water lake and it even had a rock promontory which we could use as a diving board- perfect! That evening it was Stormy Lake which, rather unusually for the journey, had other campers ensconced- a scout group. I was very weak that evening and it turned out to be simple dehydration which was easily solved by just keeping drinking.
We met Sideshow again at a shady spot beside Charlton Lake and stopped to hear him play ‘Wish You Were Here’ by Pink Floyd. It was tempting just to stay there all day but we knew we were 14 miles to our next resupply stop at Cascade Summit and wanted to progress so that we could hike there easily tomorrow.
Our next day involved an easy forested descent down to Highway 58 and Willamette Pass then 1.5 miles down a side road to Cascade Summit resort where we intended to laze about and eat for the rest of the day!