Today’s Miles: 8.7
Total Miles: 398
Little Crater Lake Campground to Frog Lake (Wapinitia Pass)
We were on the trail by 8 a.m. Hadlie decided not to hike this section with us, the logistics became too complicated. However, the plan was in place for the Carls to meet us at the Frog Lake Day Use area this afternoon with the kids.
Not wanting to pass up the artesian spring water, we filtered from Little Crater Lake on our way to the PCT. The reflection in the water was just as beautiful as yesterday.
While we were getting water, three teenagers came to the shore in swimsuits, obviously preparing to take a dip. It was another chilly morning, I couldn’t imagine taking my layers off, (let alone go for a swim in 34(F) water), but, one of them succeeded plunging for a mere second or two – and our morning was underway!
It was a fairly uneventful day of hiking through the green tunnel, although we did ascend quite a bit now that the PCT was heading towards Mt. Hood with more seriousness. The trail offered a couple sneak peaks of the mountain, and it looked SO much closer today.
We kept hoping for a place to take a break with a view, but the trail never offered that scenario. Instead, we snacked at a big trailside camp with a couple other hikers.
At 1:20 p.m., we landed on the side of Hwy 26 – our hiking day was nearly over. This busy highway crossing could use a bridge or tunnel, the cars definitely did not slow down. After a few minutes, we just ran for it.
The Frog Lake junction was .01 miles down the trail, and we immediately experienced culture shock with the DROVES of people. The trailhead parking lot was packed with cars and activity; it was definitely a Saturday.
Hiking the .5 miles to Frog Lake, my feet ached like no other day. Perhaps it was the pavement, or my shoes were getting old for long-distance hiking standards, but I couldn’t wait to get those boots off and sit down.
The Frog Lake Campground was full of course, but my book mentioned a couple backcountry spots, so I had my fingers crossed I would find one empty. We asked the campground host about them, and she pointed us in the right direction.
Twin Lakes is another 2 miles north, just off the PCT, and I would have much rather backcountry camped there, but with so many cars in the parking lot, the close proximity this area is to the Portland Metro area, and the fact that it was a Saturday, led me to believe the Twin Lakes region would be pretty full too. With my feet hurting so bad, I had zero interest in hiking an extra 4 miles to go check it out with the slim chance a site would be available.
Walking across the meadow toward Frog Lake, we couldn’t believe the amount of people everywhere, and the number of floaties occupying space on the lake. The scene was slightly obnoxious after the solitude of backpacking, but it was definitely a Saturday, and the pandemic left everyone seeking safe outdoor activities close to home. I obviously could relate.
Luckily, the great outdoors is massive, and everyone was able to socially distance, so we weren’t at any health risk. I had never been to Frog Lake before, so maybe it always looked like this, pandemic or not.
Right away, I found a camp spot that would do for the night. It lacked wow factor, but I was just happy to have a place to sleep. Michelle and I walked along the north side of the lake looking for better spots, but there weren’t any.
Arriving at the Day Use Area, we snagged an empty shaded area with plenty of distance from others, and started the long wait for the boys (at this point, they hadn’t even left town yet).
I took my boots off immediately. There was plenty of people watching to pass the time. A group played cornhole in front of us, dogs ran all over, and a little girl lost her shoe in the murky lake.
People were swimming, but I never even got my feet wet – it seemed kinda gross to us. The families arrived at 4:30 p.m., and Huxley hardly noticed me with his buddy there to play with. We all hung out until 7:00ish, eating watermelon, drinking cold beer, and sharing stories from home, and on the trail. We haven’t spent much time with people since Covid, so this was an especially heartwarming reunion.
The kids had so much fun playing, and catching tadpoles. The crowds of people started leaving around 5 p.m., so it was a quieter evening. The view of Mt. Hood is really pretty from the far side of the lake. The next time I would see the mountain, I would be standing high upon it.
I sorted out the resupply bag, and I got clean clothes! Although, I’m not sure it helped much with my Day 11 no shower situation.
Hux got a ride home with Michelle and her family, while Carl stayed to join me for the final leg of my PCT Oregon journey. It was perfect how he bookended the trip, and I was happy to have his company for the grand finale.
I was so thankful Michelle joined me. I started the trek really looking forward to alone time, but quickly determined that backpacking is way more fun with a buddy.
After saying goodbye to the crew, Carl and I got settled into our little spot, and ate heavy (non dehydrated) food for dinner. Walking over to the campground to use the amenities, we saw some stars, but mostly saw lights from towns and cities. We didn’t feel very far away….yet.
Did you miss the beginning of my Oregon PCT journey? Begin with Day 1: Here