Hours on Trail: 11
Mile Marker: 1,803
We awoke to the sun peeking through the tree branches. It was surprisingly still, considering the breeze we had fallen asleep to. Keith made breakfast while I sat up, wiping the sleepy from my eyes. A few mosquitos had landed on our bug net, making it their home for the night. Keith and I sprayed Deet on our legs and arms the moment we stepped out of the tent to keep them at bay. They didn’t bother us a bit afterwards and we packed up on decent peace. Throwing our packs on, we headed out to trail just a little after 6:30am. We hiked through the trees, being careful to avoid the roots and stones which stood in the trail. I was excited for the tall trees, even if their shade made for a little higher population of mosquitos.
We hiked for a little while before stopping for water. I sat in the sun while Keith shimmied down to the spring below. A hiker passed us by, a bug net covering his face. I smiled once he was gone, as Keith and I both agreed the mosquitoes weren’t anywhere near that level of annoyance. We filtered water before throwing our packs back on and heading out onto the dusty trail. The little winged buggers soon left us alone completely, leaving us still curious of the rumors surrounding their intensity. Walking through thinned trees, I turned around often to get a little peek of McLoughlin through the trees. His north side was quite unexpectedly snowy which made for nice views now and again.
We ate second breakfast on some rocks, hidden by trees from the trail. The breeze had picked up again, keeping the overall morning quite cool. From our perch we could look out over the valley, watching the smoke be blown around by the different layers of wind. I shook up coffee while Keith made our peanut butter, granola tortillas and we laughed our way through morning conversations. I enjoyed our little spot quite a bit, making it hard to leave our view and quiet section of land. But we were soon packed up again and walking down the trail.
We went back and forth between trees and hugging the side of slightly bare ridges. We talked often through the day, conversations revolving around the trail, forest fires, and stories of childhood. We checked for service throughout the day, hoping for an update on the fire near Crater Lake. Coming up short, we figured we could at least get information when we reached Crater Lake tomorrow.
A little before noon I spotted a small sign labeled “scenic overlook.” I looked at Keith and we instantly agreed to go on a small side quest. We went down the little trail and soon broke out on a rocky ridge. I spotted a flat rock in the shade of a medium sized tree and we sat our packs down for lunch. I imagined on a non-smokey day that one would be able to see quite far from here, but we were happy with what we had. We pulled out our lunch food and sat around for a little over an hour, eating food, and basking in the sunlight. I wanted to take a nap, due to the comfort of the cool breeze and warm sunshine, but Keith reminded me that we had more places and more views to see. So, around 1pm we were packed from lunch and walking back the side trail to the PCT.
We broke out of the small trees onto a large hill of loose rocks. They clanked together as we walked over them, headed towards a small, burnt ridge. We’re trying to get better at guessing the age of burn areas, but I’m not truly sure if we’re succeeding or not. We stopped for our afternoon break and soon were back on the trail heading towards a rather tall ridge. The trail became more loose rock as we clung to the side of the ridge, headed towards its small pass. Little fluff ball flowers grew amongst the rocks. We saw these little guys first in Northern California and both loved them dearly. They’re so fluffy and bizarre, it’s wonderful. Soon we were cresting over the ridge, through the pass and headed down the other side. The views all around were stunning and we took them in as we zoomed into the valley below.
We stopped at a small creek, our last water source until Mazamas Campground tomorrow evening. We filled every container we had, filtering some and carrying dirty water as well. We didn’t have many more miles to go in our day, so we took the remaining afternoon nice and easy. Reaching a small ridge, we walked into the trees to find our home for the night. We dropped our packs in a small, slightly flat area before walking around looking for something even better. We both came up short and began to set the tent up for the night.
Given the relatively exposed ridge and consistent breeze, our evening mosquito level was almost zero. I hopped into the tent while Keith made dinner, and we shared the food inside. Smoke blew in throughout the evening and Keith walked down the ridge to make sure there wasn’t a new fire near by. There wasn’t, just a strong breeze from the south west covering our area in smoke. We went to bed early as we were both pretty sleepy. Tomorrow we’ll be at Crater Lake, a rather short day into Mazamas Campground. It feels slightly odd to be planning to hike into a campground I’ve stayed at before, but nonetheless we’re pretty excited to say the least.