5th August Cascade Summit Resort We arrived here mid morning and, picked up our resupply box, showered, pitched our tent nearby and started some ‘serial snacking’. A few other hikers turned up and there was a nice laid back atmosphere as Sideshow got his guitar out and the rest of us dozed or chatted away in the shade of a tree beside the wooden veranda of the shop front. The ‘A team’ with dogs, Sideshow, Mensa were there and two hikers we hadn’t met before- Scott Williamson (aka Let it Be) and Rebecca. Scott, amazingly enough, was on his 4th PCT and has completed the other long distance trails the CDT and AT. He was seemingly in training for a double ‘there and back’ PCT hike the next year. Martina organised everyone to chip in for a local pizza delivery to the campsite that evening to end a lovely restful day.
Our chosen route out of Cascade Summit was on the Skyline Trail which followed Trapper Creek upstream to Diamond View Lake. Strangely enough, the PCT rarely followed rivers, tending to traverse round hillsides and keep to higher ground, so it was an unusual pleasure for us to follow this variant trail.
We moved into a dry forested region of lodgepole pine which was one of our least favourite environments. The trees formed a bit of a monoculture and didn’t provide enough shade from the sun for us. To add to that, the ground was now very dry and dusty and we found that the person in front kicked up a huge cloud of dust as they hiked such that we ended up hiking 100m or so apart. For us it was the ‘Oregon Desert’.
We had a new plan today to add a bit of variety to our hike. Instead of camping mid evening, cooking dinner and sleeping, we thought we would stop around 6pm and cook/eat dinner for an hour beside the trail then move off and get a few extra hours hiking done in the cool of the late evening and into the night. This plan was helped by the fact that there was a full moon at the time and might mean that we could cover more miles in the day.
As it turned out, cloud moved in around 8.30pm so that we were walking in the semi-dark but we still made it to Tolo Camp with more than 28 miles hiked.
We needed to descend off trail to pick up stream water the next day as we had a 16 mile waterless stretch to a creek at the foot of Mt Thielsen. Our route took us along pleasant tree covered ridge tops before we arrived at the creek at 3.30pm where we both promptly fell asleep after making and eating an instant cheesecake. Perhaps our tactics of hiking so long yesterday were not so good after all! Wisely deciding to listen to our bodies we set up camp in this lovely spot below Mt Thielsen. Another hiker, Sundog, arrived later on- Sundog is a pharmacist in Arizona (when he is not hiking) and told us about excellent hiking down there where there are cliffside Indian dwellings and carvings.
8th August We knew we had 26 miles to go to our next planned stop at Crater Lake village so we rose early and hauled lots of water for this hot dry stretch. At about 4pm and after 20 miles we reached a busy tourist road lookout over Crater Lake itself. And what an impressive sight it was. A deep turquoise blue colour lake, seven miles in diameter and formed around 7,700 years ago when volcano Mt Mazama blew up and then collapsed in on itself. After a few days hiking ourselves in the forest we observed some intriguing tourist activity here- one RV trundled up to the viewpoint, the driver wound down his window and started shooting a movie of the scene whilst the rest of the family didn’t even look up as they delved into their takeaway burgers. A few minutes later they drove off- I presume they had ‘done’ one of the natural wonders of North America!
It was easy to leave this scene and hike for 5 minutes on the rim trail round the edge of the caldera to stop on our own for lunch. It didn’t seem that many people left their cars or RV’s here on foot, so it was quiet.
An enjoyable 6 mile hike round the rim of Crater Lake took us to the rim village where we met Sundog again and indulged in a $10 buffet dinner. We decided it would be nice to camp on the crater rim itself rather than in the forest so we walked a mile back up the trail and discreetly set up our tent at sunset ( camping is not actually allowed here). We were rewarded with a beautiful sunset and then with the reflection of the moon on the lake’s surface.