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Day 121-124: Fire and Rain


Day 121: Near Tipsoo Creek (Mile 1869.5)-Near Timpanogas Lake (Fire detour, off trail); 28 miles

Since it was North Star’s 28th birthday, we decided to walk 28 miles. We began the day on the PCT, but a couple miles in, the trail was closed due to a forest fire. We were prepared and already had the map of the reroute, which initially led us through a forested area.


As the detour continued, it turned off a trail and onto a gravel road.


Unfortunately, the detour became confusing. At one road junction, the road was signed as 770, but labeled 780 on the map. At another, the map omitted a road that clearly existed. Worst of all, the map showed us turning off the road onto a trail that did not exist! Instead we figured out a new road path, which would eventually reach the PCT. We walked late into the evening. We wrote up full Butte Fire detour instructions and they are posted on


Finally it became dark, and we were tired. We had completed the 28 miles we had planned, though we were not quite back to the PCT yet. The errors on the map were frustrating, but we persevered and stayed on track.

Despite the difficulties, everyone’s birthday wishes kept our spirits high throughout the day. North Star got a handwritten birthday card and some corn nuts from our nine year old thru hiker friend, Monkey. She also received many comments on the blog, on Facebook, via email, and through text message. Thank you for the birthday wishes, and for the PCTA and Nature Conservancy donations!

Day 122: Near Timpanogas Lake (Fire detour, off trail) – Shelter Cove (Mile 1912); 16.5 miles

We walked the last of the detour in light rain. Hoping to help hikers behind us navigate the confusing route, we continued to leave arrows pointing the way.


At last, we rejoined the Pacific Crest Trail at the beautiful Summit Lake. We rested there, and the sound of the rain on the lake calmed us. After the stresses of navigating the detour, this was the perfect reward.


From the lake, we climbed up above treeline. The sun emerged, and we ran into snow patches beneath sharp peaks.


Descending towards Odell Lake, we soon reached Shelter Cove Resort, where we picked up a food resupply box. As we did so, rain began to fall. The rain was short-lived, and after it stopped, we set up camp.

Day 123: Shelter Cove (Mile 1912)-Near Waldo Lake (Fire detour, off trail); 14 miles

Leaving Shelter Cove, we began another fire detour. Two fire detours almost back to back seemed excessive, but we took it in stride. This detour was predominantly along a paved road with a good amount of traffic.


After a few miles of stepping off into the brush as trucks and RVs whizzed by, we consulted the map and found a trail which almost paralleled the road, only adding a few extra miles. The trail proved much quieter. We found ourselves relaxing as we passed a number of lovely lakes.


We camped near the trail, in perfect solitude and quiet.

Day 124: Near Waldo Lake (Fire detour, off trail)-Desane Lake (Mile 1948); 22 miles

We began the day walking through the woods, continuing our fire detour from the PCT. The area was quiet and still, except for woodpeckers and spiders.


In a few miles, the detour ended and we were welcomed back to the PCT by a beautiful lake.


Soon we entered a burned area, which seemed appropriate because the section of PCT we had just detoured around could look like this in a few years. It was striking in its own way.


Leaving the burned area, we found ourselves in a lake-studded forest without mosquitos. It seemed too good to be true. With all these perfect lakes around, we wanted to camp at one. We chose Desane Lake, where we witnessed a fiery sunset.


22 Comments Post a comment
  1. Andy Mrozek #

    Way to keep up the positive attitude guys even though you had to make all those detours.. Great resilience . Thanks for the updates very cool , makes me want to go camping.

    August 22, 2012
    • Thanks Andy, we always try to stay positive. This trail has so much to offer, we are constantly excited by it. Glad the blog makes you want to go camping. That’s what we are hoping for!

      August 28, 2012
  2. Brenda Bertsch #

    I know I could not have been as positive as you. My family is closely watching your journey, enjoying all your good moments and feeling your painful ones. I think it is remarkable how you were looking to take care of the other hikers.

    Your guys are awesome!

    August 22, 2012
    • Thank you Brenda! We try to help out other hikers as much as we can. The thru hiking community is a very positive and supportive one, so everything we give comes back around in some manner.

      August 28, 2012
  3. Barb #

    We think of you every time we hear about those fires – and we hope you don’t have to deal with more detours. Keep us posted – about the highlights and also the not-so-good times. The photos and the text you are sharing with so many avid followers are fantastic, and much appreciated.

    August 22, 2012
    • Thanks for the good wishes, Barb! We were about to have an even longer fire detour, but it was lifted for thru hikers just before we got to it. Things are looking good right now. We are excited to head into Washington soon!

      August 28, 2012
  4. It is so good to hear from you guys. I don’t know you, but I’ve been following the blog and think of you so often (especially with all the fires). I heard someone on NPR this afternoon say that they’d responded to 1,400 more fires than this time last year! So glad you have continued the trek. Thanks also for mentioning Monkey. I don’t think I’ve seen a blog post from Mama Bear lately. I like that your blog has the email notification and the tracker (very cool). Beautiful photos. God bless!

    August 22, 2012
    • Thanks lizziekat, we won’t let the fires stop us! Mama bear and Monkey are doing great, and we love that we keep running into them. They are really fun.

      Also, glad you like the tracking feature. Not everyone notices it, but it’s a great way to see what terrain we are in each day. Cheers!

      August 28, 2012
  5. Sabrina #

    Catching up with you guys! I’ve been away…Happy Birthday North Star! What an incredible and wonderful way to have spent your birthday. An unforgettable one, it’s safe to say :-)

    August 22, 2012
  6. Suzanne in berkeley #

    Northstar! Great way to live up to your name, with you and Shutterbug helping the others find their way. I imagine many following you will grateful. May you find many more serene trails and lakes to balance out the logging roads and highways. Happy birthday.

    August 22, 2012
    • Thanks Suzanne! It feels great to do what we can to help other hikers. Now that those detours are past, we are very much enjoying the solitude and quiet of the trail again.

      August 28, 2012
  7. Margaret #

    Ditto about you reaching out to other PCT-ers!

    I loved the spiderweb. How did it have a rainbow in it?

    August 23, 2012
    • There’s a great community spirit around the PCT, with people volunteering for trail maintenance, creating maps, doing trail magic, hosting hikers, and all kinds of other things. We are really happy to give back and be part of that.

      The rainbow must have been a result of the web refracting light, splitting it into its component colors like a prism would. It was quite a surprise to see that!

      August 28, 2012
  8. Jan #

    It’s a good thing you folks are such good navigators. I’m so impressed you managed to find the right path in spite of all the wrong information you had been given. Of course, with the North Star energy guiding you, I guess that helps a lot. :-)

    And what a great thing to be helping others out as well. Your trail names are both perfect. You’re certainly capturing what appears to be a crucial trait for this adventure–flexibility in the face of whatever.

    What a wonderful spider web, and sunset.

    How much snow do you anticipate in the Cascades in Washington at this time of year?

    August 23, 2012
    • Yes, North Star always keeps us on the right path with her map-reading skills. We save a lot of time and energy by not getting lost!

      Snow is always hard to predict, but there shouldn’t be too much left in the Cascades by the time we get there. By now it’s had all summer to melt, so the snow level will be at its low point for the year.

      August 28, 2012
  9. Hey Chris, it’s Zach Tollen. You guys make the motor vehicles Trailblazer and Pathfinder seem entirely unnecessary. Looks like you’ve got this country in the bag. What’s next, Politics!?

    Congratulations on your trip so far. It’s worthy of envy.

    August 23, 2012
    • Thanks Zach! Since you like to walk, you can appreciate what we are doing. No cars or trucks for us. We just keep truckin’ on foot! By the way, is Bob reading the blog as well?

      August 28, 2012
  10. Anna
    Happy Birthday! We pray for you and Chris each day here at the Abbey of Santa Maria de la Vid.

    August 23, 2012
  11. Denise #

    Good to see your post and know you’re safe and navigating the wiley fire detours with finesse. I love this last set of photos – maybe because familiar beauty is so comforting as opposed to foreign beauty, which is certainly beautiful but doesn’t evoke the same emotion as seeing the home stomping grounds through new eyes.

    August 24, 2012
    • Thanks Denise, it’s always interesting to see something familiar from an outsider’s perspective. You are fortunate to live in such a beautiful place, and we are grateful to walk through this piece of it. Happy trails!

      August 28, 2012

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