26.7 miles (Miles 1780.5 – 1807.2)
Hwy 140/Fish Lake – Stream at Mile 1807.2
Even though we got going a little later than we wanted to this morning (darned towns!), Tears and I put in some good miles. A big continental breakfast and a couple cups of coffee from our hotel helped fuel me. After saying good-bye at our trailhead this morning, Aloha and my folks were heading back towards Siead Valley to do trail magic, and I hope they were able to intercept a good number of hikers. For Tears and I, we hiked steadily hoping to get to at least Mazama Village near Crater Lake by tomorrow. This should be no problem.
After hiking a few days through Oregon’s forests, I felt for just a second as though it was all looking the same. I like to catch myself from thinking about things this way, and this was the perfect opportunity to stop and look around. I started seeing so much more right away. First of all, it’s simply forests, and I love them. I grew up in Wisconsin where we are known for our forests, so it reminded me a little bit of home and made me feel comfortable. I also really appreciated how natural these woods were. There were several fallen trees laying criss-crossing each other along the forest floor, and sun-bleached branches were consistently scattered all around them. In some areas the fallen trees were so old that they were composting into the soil in a rich, orange-brown color, while brand new little pine trees sprouted up around them. On top of all of this, it kept changing as we hiked. Green foliage popped up in some places, and in others the treetops thinned out to reveal a blue sky. It was pretty fantastic.
We ate lunch by a great spring, and right before we finished eating, Cuddles came around the corner! We hiked with him until we took separate paths for a bit. He took an alternate route down to a series of lakes, and we were tempted to follow him. We opted to stay on the PCT and stayed up high along a pretty ridgeline with great smoke-hazed views. We were glad we chose the route we did. Cuddles has already hiked the PCT (2008), so it’s cool that he explores new territory like that when given the opportunity.
As we hiked up and around these ridges, we started to smell the forest fire smoke pretty strongly again. It wasn’t long before we were immersed in it, huffing and puffing up the hills. It can make climbs more tiring because it’s just a little harder to breathe, but I can’t complain. Our views were amazing because of it, constantly changing in color and slowly engulfing far-off peaks into its soft blanket of hazy air.
We met back up with Cuddles shortly after he rejoined the PCT, and the three of us went a little further to a small stream to camp. We joined Hops and Nicole here, who were already setting up camp. I made some yummy cous cous for dinner, and Nicole gave me a packet of hot cocoa, which really hit the spot. Another great day that I can’t help but just be overwhelmingly thankful for.
Oh… Tears and I did something today that really reminded ourselves that we’re true thru hikers. We picked up a Sour Patch Kid candy off the trail that someone ahead of us must’ve dropped – an orange one – and ate it. It was so good, too!
Tonight I love being able to see in color. There are so many amazing combinations of color out here… in addition to variations in vibrancy, intensity and contrast. I don’t think I’ll ever take my ability to see for granted.
Thanks for reading and being a part of my journey!