8.18.18. 13.7 miles.
I slept sooo well last night, which was a departure from the previous nights. So well, that when my alarm went off, I was pretty disoriented. It took me a few minutes to get going and remember that I needed to get dressed. It was pretty cold this morning, I got ready with my rain jacket and puffy on, taking my puffy off before hiking. I hiked in my rain jacket the whole uphill, until I got to the top and was above tree line. This is pretty unusual since I generally get really hot on uphills and need to take my layers off ASAP.
Once I got almost to the top, I had the most amazing view so far in Oregon. The morning light was beautiful, there was a large lake in the distance with the mountains above. And the smoke had settled in a layer above/ behind the mountains I was looking at. I was in awe. It was just so gorgeous! I stopped for a while to admire the scenery and the chirping birds. I’m definitely starting to “stop and smell the roses” a little bit more, even though I’m still walking long days. I can definitely sense that my time on trail is dwindling. It’s hard to believe that it will all be over in about a month. I will greatly miss the moments like I had this morning.
I got to a creek at the top of my climb and filtered enough water to take me to Shelter Cove, and continued on. The morning was so peaceful, and it might sound counterintuitive, but in the moment I really needed to listen to some Simon & Garfunkel for mood music. The vibe was just there! Sometimes music can be a hinderance, a distraction to the miles, but this just felt like it was enhancing the scenery.
I ended up listening to music the rest of the way to Shelter Cove. The higher alpine meadows eventually turned into forest, and I didn’t see very many hikers. I sang along to many of the songs, and got a little emotional with some of them. Sometimes you just hear a good song and it makes you think about your life and then you cry on trail and then a day hiker comes out of nowhere and sees you blowing snot rockets bc you made yourself get all congested by crying and also sees tears in your eyes and then they awkwardly comment about how the trail is pretty dusty. And you just weirdly agree but are still kinda crying. And then you laugh at yourself 2 minutes later, change the song, and awkwardly dance/hike to Shake It Off. The trail does weird things to you.
I reached the dirt road at Pengra Pass and found trail magic at the junction! I grabbed a 7Up and followed the road down to the highway to Shelter Cove. It was probably about a mile walk overall. It was very confusing getting there bc there were so many people and so many RVs. I realized it was a Saturday, but the amount of people seemed excessive. I finally found the hiker tent, and was VERY surprised at who I saw in there... Excel! From way back when! I hadn’t seen her since Kennedy Meadows South. We follow each other on social media, so we’ve been keeping tabs on each other, but the service hasn’t been super great since Ashland. We got to catch up, and I found out she had to skip a lot of trail in NorCal bc she kept having asthma attacks bc of all the smoke. An amazing trail angel basically housed her and drove her to parts of the trail for a week for her to see if she could hike in the smoke. Ultimately, the smoke was at the lowest at Crater Lake, where she got back on 5 days ago. She’s been hiking lower mileage days since she basically took 2 weeks off of hiking & she’s waiting for the rest of her group to catch up.
It was really nice to have someone I know well to talk to and hang out with for a change. Especially since the WiFi here sucked and there was no service, so we really got to hang out. It was lots of fun. Also, Pony Express (Rachel), who I met in Callahan’s with Twerk also showed up, which was mind-boggling to me since I though she was ahead of me! It was great seeing her again, and she hiked out a couple miles this evening, but I think I’ll run into her tomorrow. At least, I hope I will!
I got all of my chores done: resupply box organized, laundry, (real) shower, charged all my things, ate some real food. The WiFi kind of started working again, but barely. Once the sun was starting to set, Excel and I went off to some land near the resort to set up camp. The PCT camp area the resort was charging $11 for was on terrible, lumpy, rocky ground, which we thought was ridiculous, and since Excel had been here last night, she knew a place we could camp for free nearby that was on public land. So we set up there. I’m getting breakfast at the restaurant tmrrw, so I won’t be waking up and leaving super early.