PCT Oregon – Crater Lake

9th August Sunday Crater Lake  From our great campsite on the crater rim we sauntered down to the rim cafe for breakfast then descended through forest to the post office only to find that it was closed on Sundays. As we were due to pick up our resupply box we would have to wait until tomorrow.

The campsite was down the road so we set off to pitch our tent and enjoyed inactivity for the rest of the day. Chatted to Rebecca and four female hikers dubbed ‘The Nike Girls’ as they were bedecked in sports lycra clothing. They were thru-hiking south with the help of a parent with a support vehicle which gave us a lift back up to the village for some supplies.

Crater Lake camp L-R Martina, Scott, Sundog, Rebecca

After collecting our packages the next day and reading our mail we hiked south at 12 noon with heavy packs in hot weather. We walked on until 8.30pm through more lodgepole pine forest spotting some elk along the way and passed Rebecca and Scott bivvying beside the path (they were hiking ‘ultralight’ and were using a tarp sheet instead of a tent to save weight).

Discovering the possibility of more swimming potential, we took the Sky Lakes trail for the next few miles descending down to sparkling Margurette Lake for a swim before regaining the PCT. This area was ‘lake heaven’ as the terrain was dotted with lakes much to our glee and we camped between Island and Dee lakes just off the trail. The water in these high lakes still felt cold and there was some magical quality about immersing our overheated bodies into the waters. It seemed like it could revitalise us and add strength to our hiking limbs!

Map of Sky Lakes with its lake dotted landscape

Martina was up and active the next morning at 6am cooking breakfast. I followed groggily in the dark and put my feet into my boots to go to the toilet. I hit something distinctly soft and squidgy and let out a yelp! When I looked at my boot there was a big ‘Western Toad’ sitting inside that had found a lovely dark warm home for the night. I jumped back and Martina had to empty it out for me as I was a bit squeamish. The toad didn’t seem too bothered by its ordeal and leapt off into the woods.

Our hike continued round the east flank of another volcanic mountain, Mt McLoughlin. Unfortunately the trail stayed in the trees most of the way past the hill and we didn’t see too much of it. The heat was almost unbearable that day- not helped by the red lava rock that we hiked over which seemed to intensify the suns rays. It was probably the hottest day of our hike and we visibly wilted in the heat. Our lunch stop was by a gurgling stream near a road crossing of Hw 140 which we made use of to cool down a little. In the afternoon we struggled on to gain 10 miles over more lava slopes in stifling heat. Martina was delighted to find a diversion picking berries alongside the trail which now were ripening perfectly. Our bed for that night was in a small wooden shelter with its own water pump.

We left at 6.15am the next morning and by 7am it was already getting hot as we climbed the slopes of Baldy Mountain. We passed lots of variety of trees which was nice to see- Douglas Fir, Sugar Pine, Cedar, Ponderosa Pine and others which we couldn’t identify! At a road crossing near here we were startled as we emerged from the forest by huge trucks coming trundling by at speed.

We reached Hyatt Lake that afternoon where we had sent a resupply box. Unfortunately it hadn’t arrived so we decided to hike on the next day and go into the town of Ashland nearby and try and intercept the parcel there. An interesting meeting for us was with a hiker called Jonathan Breen who had hiked northbound all the way through the snowy Sierra Nevada mountains that we retreated from in early June- our first northbounder encounter!

Next day after a bit of hiking we hitched into the town of Ashland. The guy who gave us a lift is planning a golf trip to Scotland this year so we had plenty to chat about. Ashland is small, touristy, expensive – and we loved it! It has an annual Shakespeare Festival which was running when we arrived and the town felt bustling and alive.

Since it was Sunday 16th August we waited in Ashland for our parcel to arrive on Monday. It was no hardship and Martina in particular enjoyed the cosmopolitan feel of the place.

We managed to deal with our parcels on Monday and were able to hitch out back to the trail without too much difficulty with a young girl driving her fathers Range Rover – I guess we must have looked trustworthy!

Our next few days were on open rolling ridge lands with plenty of flowers to keep our interest as well as views south to the Trinity Alps – our next major mountain range in California. About thirty miles south of Ashland we came across a PCT California border post – we had made it back to California. A hiker trail book was attached to the post and we had an interesting time reading the comments of hikers we knew who had already passed this way. Marathon Man was heading south at speed but Brian Sweet, our fellow hiker on many occasions, seemed to be having difficulty hiking alone and his entry sounded a bit down. When hiking a trail of this length every one of us had their ups and downs (ours mostly when we were ill, or it was too hot or there were too many trees and no views!) but it was more difficult I think for Brian hiking alone as the days through trees can seem very lonely indeed.

Anyway, we were in good spirit, it was 17th August and we were in our final US state with only a mere 1,050 miles to go !

Next Northern California………

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