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Day 116-120: Volcanic Peaks and Craters

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Day 116: Near Brown Cabin (Mile 1771)-Below Imagination Peak (Mile 1796.5); 25.5 miles

In our morning’s walk, the Pacific Crest Trail, covered with small red rocks, wound through large grey lava rocks, creating a striking contrast.

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Bone Lady caught up with us and we walked together for a few miles. As we hiked, Mt McLaughlin came into view.

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With each step we kicked up a cloud of volcanic ash, which found its way into our shoes and socks. Our feet compacted the ash into hard clumps, making walking uncomfortable unless we stopped to scrape out the deposits.

Later in the day, we left the lava fields and entered a forest.

Day 117: Below Imagination Peak (Mile 1796.5)-Oregon Desert (1818.5); 22 miles

A few miles into the day, the trail ascended to a ridge, where we enjoyed wonderful views for miles. We also found some goofy-looking puffball flowers growing on the rocky slopes.

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After a hot section without much water, we plopped down at a small creek to cook lunch, since we would soon enter a 20-mile waterless stretch. Many other hikers felt the same way, and bit by bit more people joined us: Paul and Chantal (the French couple), Kanji and his friend from Japan, Little Bear, Super Girl, Magic Paul, Cool Ranch, Capitan, Lala, and Day Man. It was a napping, eating, and water filtering party!

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Our meal complete and the sun past its peak, we hiked on. Soon we entered a burned forest. It was a stark, quiet, contemplative place to end the day.

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Day 118: Oregon Desert (1818.5)-Crater Lake (Mile 1829); 10.5 miles and resupply at Crater Lake Mazama Village

We walked through a densely forested area, and crossed into Crater Lake National Park, though we were still too far away to view the lake itself.

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As we neared the road, we realized how dirty we were. We were positively filthy! The trail in the past few days was the dustiest we had ever experienced. Like Pigpen, clouds of dust followed us as we walked, coating our clothes and skin.

Leaving the forest, we picked up our planned food resupply boxes from the Mazama Village Store. To our surprise, we found an extra package marked on the pick-up list. It was an early birthday package from Jim and Cindy, filled with lots of sweet treats! Yay!

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Day 119: Crater Lake (Mile 1829)-Near Pumice Desert (Mile 1849.5) + 1 mile off trail road walk; 21.5 miles

We woke early and walked up to the rim of Crater Lake, passing several beautiful creeks on the way.

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The PCT followed Crater Lake’s rim for a few miles. We stopped often for pictures, and thoroughly enjoyed every moment of the walk. The water was a startlingly deep shade of blue.

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We believe Mark Twain’s quote about Lake Tahoe applies equally to Crater Lake. In Roughing It, he wrote that the lake “would restore an Egyptian mummy to his pristine vigor and give him an appetite like an alligator. I do not mean the oldest and driest mummies, of course, but the fresher ones.”

As we gawked at the lake, much revived, another hiker told us about a new forest fire to the north. Luckily we had a cell signal and were able to research the detour we would need to take in two days when we reached the affected area.

The trail eventually pulled away from Crater Lake, and we entered a forest, where we camped.

Day 120: Near Pumice Desert (Mile 1849.5)-Near Tipsoo Creek (Mile 1869.5); 20 miles

The sun rose a deep orange, and the sky was mostly white, from smoke in the air. We walked through a forest of tall, skinny lodgepole pines, and were gradually nearing the fire, but could not see it.

After crossing Highway 138, we met Wired, who thru hiked the PCT last year. We were thankful for her extensive blogging, which had helped us prepare for this journey. We enjoyed talking with her as we ate the trail magic goodies she brought along.

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Saying our goodbyes, we headed up the forested hillside. Small stretches of the trail were snow-covered, even in mid-August.

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We lunched under Mt. Thielsen next to a beautiful ice-cold snowmelt creek.

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We walked a few miles farther, then camped early to work on this blog post. We hoped to be well-rested, so we could walk 28 miles on North Star’s 28th birthday tomorrow!

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26 Comments Post a comment
  1. markdek #

    I have been enjoying your trail log, and I needed to step up, and say so; I broke my leg this spring, and am getting back in shape, but this kind of backpack would be out of the question for me right now.

    Thanks for taking the time to present your trip, to yourselves (for posterity), and for us. It can’t be easy on top of the trail time, rest/supply stops, etc.

    Cheers.

    August 17, 2012
    • Thanks, it’s our pleasure! We always make time for the blog, because sharing the journey is very important to us. Glad to have you reading, and thanks for the comment!

      August 23, 2012
  2. Margaret #

    What a range of terrain, from burnt out slopes to brisk brooks!

    I’m playing the ‘age’ card: I remember Shutterbug when he chose not to have any hair :).

    The small puff flowers look like ones I have in my front yard. In spring they are purple & I’ve heard them called a familiar name, “Marguerite.”

    Yes, HBD, Anna! What a lifetime experience. You 2 together 24/7, stretching & testing your physical limits, a sustained moment of surprise vistas and unexpected encounters.

    Being as how I’m not always in the moment, I wonder at the transition that awaits you….

    August 17, 2012
    • Yes, the range of terrain and variety of experiences keeps this adventure exciting every day. Thanks for your comment on the puffballs, too. That was only the second time we’ve seen them on the trip, and we really enjoyed them.

      We hope to take what we’ve learned on the PCT and apply it to our future endeavors. We are excited for what comes next. Thanks for the birthday wishes!

      August 23, 2012
  3. Cindy #

    Happy Birthday, North Star! You will certainly remember this birthday :-) The photo of the stream below Mt. Thielsen might just be my favorite so far!

    August 17, 2012
  4. Charles #

    Happy birthday Anna! Also, beware the precedent you are setting by walking miles equal to your birthday. What will do you when you are 93?

    August 17, 2012
  5. dante #

    I recognize the funny puffy flowers from Horton Hears a Who. Microscopic WhoVille existed on a speck of dust which landed on just such a puffy flower. How about that? The story must have taken place in Oregon!

    August 17, 2012
  6. Happy Birthday Northstar! You both glow with happiness in every photo. What a way to celebrate 28! I’m lovely the development of Shutterbug’s beard, wild, bushy and ecstatic.

    August 17, 2012
    • Thank you Mags! I guess the trail has been good for us. Adventurous birthdays are the best! And adventurous beards too, I suppose. :-)

      We just read about your wipeout. Hope you feel better soon and can still do your trip with a different mode of transportation!

      August 23, 2012
  7. Mary #

    Happy Birthday, North Star! All those beautiful wild flowers must be for you.The photo of Mt. Thielson and the mountain creek is beautiful. I look forward to reading each post you send and really enjoy your photos. Wishing you happy feet,

    August 17, 2012
    • Thanks Mary! The wildflowers do feel like gifts. We have seen so many incredible meadows full of them near the trail! Glad you like the photo and our blog entries too. The blog is our way of giving back, because the trail gives us so many gifts, and we want to share those as much as we can.

      August 23, 2012
  8. Jerry #

    Happy Birthday, North Star! We love the posts! Keep them coming! My mother and I had lunch with your grandmother after a funeral in Mount Pleasant on Friday. You can imagine how amazed the folks there were as we recounted your journey. Safe travels.

    Jerry K.

    August 17, 2012
  9. Suzanne in berkeley #

    Happy birthday northstar! Hope the air is clearing of the smoke as you head north. That flower is bushier than shutterbug’s wonderous beard! Aren’t they crrrrazy plants? They are Western Anemone, related to a buttercup, and even the guide book says they are Seussian.
    The contrast between the pumice desert and crater lake amazes me each time i take that road. Walking through the pumice sounds like a way more direct experience. Walk well northstar and shutterbug!

    August 17, 2012
    • Thanks Suzanne! We were wondering about the name of that flower. Thanks for letting us know. The name is fitting.

      All that pumice makes for slow walking, but it is an awesome landscape, so different from anything else we have seen. The PCT always manages to surprise us!

      August 23, 2012
  10. Jan #

    Wow! Dr. Seuss puffballs, to volcanic ash, to Crater Lake, to that gorgeous mountain stream and waterfall. You traversed a lot of incredible scenery these few days. And who said the Oregon part of the trail was flat and boring??? (I seem to remember reading that somewhere…)

    And a day in the wilderness for your birthday, North Star! Not to mention that unexpected birthday present of lots and lots of goodies. What great smiles on your faces, both of you, in all these pictures.

    I love the pictures in the past few posts of your daily life–taking pictures, your sleeping bags, your delicious pasta with mushrooms one day, and peas the next, putting on your shoes. It gives us a good sense of the down to earth activities, as you walk through such amazing scenery.

    How far do the detours for the fires take you away from the trail? It’s amazing to think that Oregon has a season of forest fires every year, just like somewhere else would have a rainy season.

    Yes, the butterflies and bees in our garden are a little piece of the beauty of nature, right outside our front door. It’s happened because we’re letting things grow more wild, wherever they want to grow. The bees and butterflies seem to love that, and I can’t blame them!

    More and more people are coming into my office to look at your amazing progress on the map on my wall. They are very impressed, of course, and rightly so. What determination, and from the looks on your faces, what rewards!

    August 18, 2012
    • Yes, Oregon is anything but boring! There is a lot of forest here, but also great variety. We are really enjoying it.

      The detours took us a few extra miles, but we were able to walk those and still keep up with our itinerary, so we can’t complain too much.

      Great determination and great reward sums up this hike very well. It demands a lot of us every day, but it gives back that much and more. So many unforgettable moments. How cool that people are following along! Feel free to share the blog with them too if they are interested. We are really happy to be sharing this journey with so many people.

      August 23, 2012
  11. Bob Bertsch #

    Happy Birthday Anna. It is always a bright spot in my day to read your posts. Your dad and I rode our bikes on the bike trail from Miamiville to Newtown on Tuesday and you came up in the conversation often. Enjoy your day!

    August 18, 2012
  12. Happy Birthday North Star! So great to meet you guys in person and get ya some magic:) Good luck dodging the fires!

    August 18, 2012
  13. Karin #

    Happy Belated Birthday!! Hope you enjoyed all 28 miles. Looks like a beautiful area to spend your birthday in. I can’t believe there’s snow in August. My feet have finally recovered and now I wish I could join you again!

    August 18, 2012
    • Thanks Karin! We had a good walk even with the fire detour. So glad you enjoyed hiking with us. Not everyone would like to go that kind of distance, but we knew you’d be up to the challenge. We’ll hike with you anytime!

      August 23, 2012

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