pct Update #8 - Oregon
This update comes to you from halfway through Oregon! We’re in the town of Bend, and it’s one of our favorite stops on the pct so far. It’s also the first real town we’ve been in since the last update in Ashland, which was over 250 miles and 2 weeks ago. Hard to believe!
Oregon Resort #1 - Fish Lake
The last couple weeks have been a whirlwind tour of beautiful Oregon lakes, secluded Oregon lakeside resorts, and I think most of the mosquitos in the known universe. Also a few days of dense smoke from a forest fire that started near Ashland right as we were leaving. We did a lot of research about the fire the night before hiking out, and while we decided we weren’t in any danger, it smelled noticably smoky and visibility was severely reduced (one of the first pictures in the album shows how you can’t see anything beyond the trees right in front of us!).
As we made our way farther away from the fire and the smoke, we also went through some very large burned out sections of forest. This is prime forest fire region, and it definitely shows.
Fifty miles out of Ashland we passed by Fish Lake and Fish Lake Resort. It was only a 1.3 mile side trail off the pct, so it seemed well worth the walk to get a burger, milkshake, and picturesque place to relax for the day. We even found a tenting spot next to the lake with our own private picnic table.
A few days later we finally made it to Crater Lake, which everyone has been raving about to us for the last 500 miles. The pct doesn’t go up on the crater’s rim, so we decided to take the pct alternate rim trail and get some views of the lake. And it was a good thing we did - that section of the pct proper turned out to be closed anyway due to high cougar activity, so we would have had to turn around had we gone that way anyway. Crater Lake itself was a beautiful sight at sunrise, and we even met a bold little chipmunk that had no problem coming close enough to put its front two legs on my thigh while it begged for food. I think maybe it’s been taking lessons from the chipmunks at the Grand Canyon.
We also saw a mink (I think) in the process of eating a squirrel. It was less friendly than the chipmunk, but also didn’t seem to care too much about our presence. I’m not sure what a hunting mink looks like in action, but I’m really curious about it now! It must be very fast to hunt squirrels!
Oregon Resort #2 - Diamond Lake Resort
Next up was Diamond Lake resort, where we had to hitch for about an hour before finally getting a ride in the 10 or so miles to the resort. We had a couple hot meals before leaving, and resupplied on food from the small resort store. Here and around Crater Lake the mosquitos started really picking up (I thought they already picked up, but somehow they just continue to get more and more intense) - these days we hike almost all the time with long pants, long sleeves, and a head bug net on. Somehow we still manage to get a few new new bites each day. It’s mostly from when we stop for breaks and meals, and the little buggers have time to land on you while you’re stationary, and quietly bite you through your clothing. Sometimes we put on our big puffy jackets, yes, in the midst of a hot humid Oregon summer, just because the down jacket is too thick for them to bite through.
Oregon Resort #3 - Shelter Cove Resort
We pushed another 50 or so miles to get to yet another small lakeside resort near the trail - Shelter Cove. We arrived around lunchtime, only to discover the resort restaurant was closed for the next two days! Oh no! I think they were doing some sort of building improvements or something.
We immediately resorted (ba dum ch!) to Gatorades, Cheetos, and a pint of Ben and Jerry’s, as any reasonable person would. I don’t think I’ve had Cheetos in years, but they sure were good! Since the restaurant was closed, one of the hikers, Mayor (formerly known as Prometheus Buttercrack), was organizing a Barbecue. It really was an impressive feat of organization, as Mayor had coordinated with the resort to get all the burger patties, buns, etc. Since the restaurant wasn’t open, it’s not like they were going to sell them otherwise. I’m so thankful Mayor had this idea, and put the evening together. I have no idea where Mayor is now, or if we’ll ever see him and his wife again (I never did find them on Instagram), but if you ever read this - thank you!
As it turns out, barbecues are very effective at pulling the hikers out of the woodwork, so we ended up with quite a crowd that night. We had time to socialize and catch up with recent friends we’d been seeing on the trail, old friends that we hadn’t seen since California, and even some new sobo friends. It’s really great that we’re starting to hit the beginning of “sobo season,” as exchanging trail stories really is the best way to find out what’s ahead of you. It feels almost a bit anachronistic, like something out of a Western - cowboys gathered around an evening campfire, exchanging stories and tips about the direction from whence they came.
After leaving Shelter Cove, we eventually came to a small landmark on the trail - a well-maintained cabin in the woods, open the public, and maintained by some outdoorsy group based in Seattle, if I recall correctly. We stopped for a morning break inside, only to find our good friend Grimm! He was in the midst of preparing a surprise breakfast of biscuits and gravy for his current hiking partner. While we were in there, a bee appeared, and Grimm somehow instantly saw the terror in my eyes, and jumped up to take care of it. How nice of him! Another hiker named school bus stopped in, telling us that his trail name came to him because he and his family actually live in a converted school bus.
Soon after Shelter Cove we passed through a restricted area absolutely full of obsidian. If you’re not a pct hiker, you apparently need a permit to enter. I think this is because people keep taking the obsidian home, which is a fair concern. It is all very visually striking - such beautiful rocks! I can see why people would want to take them. Thank goodness as pct hikers we had the opportunity to hike through this section though - it was such an out of the ordinary place, and really memorable to hike through.
The obsidian was so neat to see everywhere, with its glossy, smooth surface. Oregon really started to get beautiful and impressive at this point. We had some good hiking above the clouds, beautiful views of the Three Sisters mountains, and even started to see some glaciers. Can’t believe we’ve finally made it far enough north to be in glacier country! We haven’t done glacier zone hiking since several years back, when we hiked Glacier National Park for a week1, and I was still unsure if I’d be able to handle a full week of backpacking through the wilderness. Look at us now!
When we got to the road crossing that goes into Bend, a nice couple was dropping two hikers off at the trail, and asked if we wanted a ride into town. They asked if we minded that their beautiful big dog would need to sit between us for the ride. Why, no, I wouldn’t mind that one bit! What an amazing hitch that was. Not just the dog, but also the fact that we simply arrived at the road to a waiting hitch. The typical way this goes down is that we arrive at the road, stick our thumbs out, and wonder how many cars will drive by before one kind soul decides to stop for us. And they are always kind souls. We meet such wonderful, interesting people while hitching.
Happy trails and until next time,
shortly before, that year, while reading about Glacier National Park on Wikipedia, I had come across the numbers on how quickly the glaciers there were melting. The current estimates seem to be we expect the glaciers there to be gone by about 2030. I was astonished and horrified, and knew I wanted to plan a trip here sooner than later. I’m glad we were able to see it, but every time I think about it, it makes me wish I were doing more to improve the ecological footprint of humanity. Maybe once I retire from my first career, I can figure out something meaningful to do in that space!