Tent site – tent site
30 miles. 3791ft up. 4458ft down
The stars were beautiful last night and I managed to get an OK picture before the moon appeared and shone 1000 watts into my tent and bullied the stars into submission.
At 5:30 the moon was still super bright. I was feeling extra tired this morning and I snoozed my alarm twice. But then I remembered it was 26.5 miles until Elk Lake resort where there was real food. I don’t want to eat any of the food in my bag. I just want real food.
So I was up and on the trail by 6:20. The trail consisted of that fine volcanic dust which is like walking through sand, it’s tough and slow going. The dust gets everywhere. It’s coated everything and there is a layer coating my lungs, nose and throat. I think that’s why I feel like I have an unquenchable thirst.
I was able to tell a few nobos that they would find Coppertone at the pass. I got some lovely cold water from a stream and drank as much as I could. The trail turned into lava rocks again for a few miles, but the long descent in the coolness of the morning was much easier than climbing up it in the heat like we did last year. The moon was visible for a long time.
I came to a creek and sat down for a bit. I’m just about on my 10 miles in 4 hours schedule and I’m starving today. I had already eaten my cereal bar, cookies and sweets – all before 9am! So I ate my Cheetos, filled up with water and moved on.
It’s the weekend I think so there are lots of weekend hikers about. I talk to a few. ‘How far are you going?’ they ask. I tell them I’m heading to Elk Lake. ‘Oh that’s really far away’. ‘No, it’s only 26 miles.’ Like that’s the most normal thing in the world.
The trail dips in and out of the trees and I walk on, sometimes in a bit of a trance. Just walking. Thinking. Dreaming. Imagining. Wondering.
I see a few nobos but they are definitely getting less. These people will be October finishers. These people like to ‘chill hard’ I think. These people like to walk along with their music playing out loud.
I sit for a rest a couple of times. I am so hungry today. I eat into tomorrow’s supplies, although I think I have more than enough food. I eat a twix and some sour patch kids. I drop a blue kid, the best flavour, but I pick it up and eat it. I have ingested half the trail anyway. A bit more dirt won’t kill me.
The trail opens out into a big meadow and I can see 5 or 6 people walking towards me. The trail is busy today. Lots of people walking around the three sisters.
And that’s it for views today, the trail goes back into the trees and remains pretty uneventful until I reach the junction for Elk lake. It’s a 1.5 mile side trail to get there and I fly down it as quick as I can. At the trail head there is then a half mile road walk to reach the resort. It feels weird walking on a hard flat surface after being on the trail for a week. I make it to the lake and there are a lot of people there. A lot of clean, normal looking people. This is a popular place for residents of Bend to come for the weekend and it was pretty busy. I felt very out of place and a little overwhelmed by the noise especially.
I dump my pack next to a load of other hiker packs and head straight to the restaurant. I see a group of people who look like northbounders. I take a seat outside and order a burger. The menu is limited and expensive. $16 for a burger. But it’s a resort and there are no other options so you pay it. I was so hungry I probably would have paid double that anyway. Burgers aren’t really my favourite food, but I think I’ve been craving protein. They had run out of fries so I had to have tortilla chips instead. And I had 2 large glasses of soda. I was nearly satisfied but I had room for an Oreo sandwich ice cream too.
I bought 3 twixes and some cookies to keep me going over the next couple of days. After an hour and a half it was time to get back to the trail. You can camp here but they charge you $10. Camping on the trail is free! I didn’t need a shower as I only had one two days ago. My clothes haven’t been washed for 8 days but another couple won’t hurt. And they had no wifi. No point staying if there’s no wifi.
As I left the restaurant so did the big group of nobos. A guy shouts out “any hikers need a ride to town?” I could have got myself a ride to Bend without trying but I didn’t need anything. No one took him up on his offer so I asked him if he would give me a ride back to the trailhead. Save me half a mile of uphill road walking. He did which was excellent! Turns out he hike some of the trail in 2008 and he often comes out here to help out the hikers. He was very gentlemanly and held my pack up, like you would hold up a coat, for me to put on. He told me his trail name but it has slipped my mind.
I hike the 1 mile side trail back to the PCT and I have 2.5 miles to get to a camp spot. I should be there before its dark.
Then hundreds of mosquitos came out of nowhere all on the attack. It didn’t matter how fast I walked, they were on me. All over me. Biting me in my hair, through my KT tape and on the backs of my knees. It was the worst 2.5 miles. I was trying to walk, look where I was going and swat mosquitos all at the same time.
I got to the camp spot and a couple of nobos were there watching a video on their phone. They asked if I wanted them to turn it off. Nah. You’re alright.
I danced around trying to keep the bugs away as I was putting up my tent. I could feel them biting me. The vicious little bastards. I put my puffy on to try and stop them and I got very hot and sweaty. Eventually I was able to launch myself inside and killed the 10 or so bugs that made it in with me.
I was in and settled by 8:15, just before it got dark. I am so itchy, I take an anti-histamine and hope for the best. I realise I have done a 30 mile day, and I’ve had a burger, soda and ice cream. What a good day!
I’m walking thousands of miles for Just A Drop because everyone should have access to clean water. Donate here.