Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Day 76 (8/1) Going the Wrong Way!

This marks the official start of my 340 mile southbound PCT section from Crater Lake, OR to Dunsmuir, CA. I'm going to have ti get my head around the concept of hiking south instead of north... You would expect me to get an early start for this, but the opposite was true. First there was the continental breakfast. Then some final packing and getting out of the hotel. From there I had some chores to do at the post office. Mail out postcards, and one resupply box to Etna, then work with customer service to have my two boxes at Echo Lake forwarded one to Ashland and one to Seiad Valley. That was an easier job than expected and many thanks to Rick from the Klamath Falls PO for his help.

After all that we finally started the hour drive to Crater Lake, where I had a final lunch with my dad before he dropped me at the trail. We also picked up another hiker who was going that way - he had started at the Oregon border and was going to Canada. It was neat already meet one of the northbound hikers and I knew there would be plenty more coming. When I finally did step foot on trail it was nearly 2:00! This would clearly be only a half day at best.

The trail officially hours around the lake to keep horses away from the rim, but there is an alternate hiker trail that follows the Crater Lake rim. Obviously I took the rim trail. As I climbed the flanks of this ancient stratovolcano I wondered how it would've been before the explosion spread a good portion of this mountain across the whole west coast. It is still high enough though that this year it still held an appreciable amount of snow on August 1st. I never once imagined I would still be seeing snow at this date... Not to mention trudging through it in slushy form. Just like in the Sierras my feet got soaked. But on the other hand I got to look out on one of the most awe-inspiring places I have ever seen. For starters this lake is the deepest, purest blue you can imagine. Add to that the fact that it looks enormous, and that's before you realize its a quarter mile below you when you're standing at the rim. Then it takes on whole new proportions in your head. You might happen to notice one of the three tour boats on the lake, only they appear ant-sized and don't seem to make any progress across the lake. Only after watching for awhile do they seem to come closer to the massive Wizard Island. Reading a plaque I found out it was a 4 mile boat ride, and that's not even all the way across the lake!

Partway around I had the chance to climb the fire tower atop Watchman Peak. How could I pass that up? I had a great view of Shasta, McLaughlin, Theilsen, plus three other snow-capped behemoths in the distance, and of course the whole Crater Lake below me. What a view, and since it was snack time I spent a good while up there soaking in the sights. When I came down I didn't make it more than a mile before up the trail here comes none other than Malto.

For those few of you who haven't yet memorized every detail of my trip, I met Malto at mile 110 at Warner Springs. He started 3 days after me but caught up by doing mid-30's each day. He wanted to finish the trail in a timeline similar to mine, so we had emailed back and forth prior to the trip. I had followed his blog occasionally but was really curious how he had been doing. Apparently he was equally curious about my trip, and understood some if the challenges I had hit. He still advocated the ultra-light approach to me, and its grown on me over the course of the trip. While we caught up Redbeard came walking up, and we all talked for a bit more before we split ways to finish our miles for the day, 7 for him and 5 for me.

Miles Today: 12
Trip Mileage: 1013
PCT Mile Marker: 1832

Photo: Crater Lake panorama from adjacent to the Watchman

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