Tag Archives: backpacking oregon

Pacific Crest Trail Oregon – Day 13 to Grouse Hill Camp (Crater Lake)

Day 13
Today’s Miles: 9.5
Total Miles: 148.7
Crater Lake Lodge (Rim Trail) to Grouse Hill Backpacker Camp

My headlamp died again last night, so I ran to the bathroom to charge it at 5:30 a.m. I was a little off my charging game. I should have left some devices with my parents to charge in their room overnight…oops.

I had plenty of time to pack up my things, get organized, and set up my new 1-person tent. Woohoo!

Have I mentioned how awesome my support crew was?! Carl spent a long time researching, ordering, and making it all happen. My parents had to pick the tent up in Bend to bring it to me here. It sounded like a hassle for everyone, and I love them all so much for their effort. I am one lucky lady!

Our two-person tent weighs 4+ pounds and my one person is just over 2 pounds – when every ounce counts, that’s a HUGE difference. The new tent is an odd shape, and it took me some time to figure out the setup, so I was glad I practiced. The two-person tent felt like home each night, so I hoped the change wouldn’t be too strange.

My dad arrived right on time at 7:30 a.m. I was happy to have a ride back up to the rim to start our hike. We stopped at the Ranger Station to get a wilderness permit as I would be back-country camping inside the park tonight. I got the vibe nobody was getting a permit this year, but they seemed pleased with my effort. It didn’t cost anything, and according to my book, you are supposed to get one. I figured it was good hiking karma, if nothing else.

Today’s Adventure – Mazama Village to Grouse Hill Camp

I spent the morning coordinating with Carl. I was hoping he could meet me at Odell lake in 5 days. I had a 9.7 mile day built into my itinerary the next section, so I planned to cut an entire day of hiking. Now that I had a couple weeks under my belt, I couldn’t imagine hiking less than 14-18 miles a day; a 9.7 mile day seemed silly. This would provide me a zero day to enjoy family time at the lake if we could make it all come together.

My dad was anxious to get our hiking started, so we hit the rim trail at the main lodge by late morning. This was one of the most memorable days on the trail, because I hiked right around 7 miles with my dad. The views were stunning. In all my visits to Crater Lake, I’ve never hiked this whole trail.

My mom drove the car, and met us at the waysides with leftover pizza. I packed a little daypack in my resupply bag, so I got to do these 7 miles with my heavy pack in the car instead of ON me – that was one of the smartest planning moves I had. Hiking is so easy with a daypack!

I was totally spoiled during my time at Crater Lake, and felt like I was cheating just a little, but I loved it. The best part was my water situation. Leaving the Crater Lake lodge, the trail has zero water until Thielsen Creek – 26.3 waterless miles. I was able to cut it down to 17 miles since I would have full water bottles in the car waiting for me before meeting back up with the PCT.

The trail around the lake was surprisingly full of up and down – much more than one would think. It was a decent workout, and so beautiful. At each vehicle pullout we saw several people, but everyone wore masks. By this time, the Oregon Governor had mandated wearing masks outside if you could not maintain 6 ft. of distance. It was pretty easy to keep distance, but seeing everyone wear masks added another level of comfort and safety, but also so strange…

I enjoyed having a new person to converse with. I soaked it in as I would be alone the next four days. My dad shared tales of his mountain climbing days in Africa (where he was born). We laughed at the thought of carrying whole cans of food – talk about a heavy pack.

The final mile was filled with panoramic views to the left, and snow patches to the right. The trail was dotted with wildflowers providing plenty of photo ops.

When we arrived at the end of the Rim trail, I saw two backpackers making their way to the PCT. I was excited to hear they were heading to the Grouse Hill backpacking camp as well. Yay; I wouldn’t be alone tonight! Hiking with their dog, they were a little nervous about water. I offered them some, but they said they would be fine. I really should have insisted. This was day 1 of their very first backpacking trip, and their packs looked REALLY big and heavy.

Final Stretch of the Rim Trail

I was a little sad to say goodbye to my parents, and a part of me wanted to climb in the car and head home too. But, I had a goal I was now determined to complete, and a lot more of Oregon to see.

My pack was SO heavy when I threw it on, even with my lighter tent. Those first few minutes I honestly didn’t know if I could do it. Water weighs a lot, and I took an extra bottle just in case for this next dry section.

I had no idea where the PCT picked back up, but instead of walking around to investigate a little, I decided to climb straight up a giant sand dune hill with my giant pack on – it was completely unnecessary – not the wisest of choices. I found the trail eventually across the highway.

It’s strange to venture off on your own after a full day of company. Thankfully, it was an easy, flat, roughly 4.5 miles to camp. It was also dusty, dry and hot. I got used to the heavy pack pretty quickly, and luckily my ankle was all better.

I arrived around 4:30 p.m., pretty early in the day. Grouse Hill is a large area, and I got one of the camps all to myself. I imagine in normal years, this camping area is full on an average night.

The other two backpackers were setting up camp in the far section when I arrived, but since there was a significant amount of distance between the two areas, I had solitude. This is the perfect scenario: knowing people are nearby so I feel safe, yet far enough away I don’t have to worry about bothering anyone, and I get alone time.

After setting up my new tent, I ate dinner on large boulders next to camp while watching pikas scurry around. A deer walked through my camp as I filled the evening writing in my journal, and read the pages in my book for tomorrow’s leg; all the usual things. Off on my own tomorrow…

Dinner and Pika Viewing Rock
My new one-person tent!

Oregon PCT Day 12 – Mazama Village to Crater Lake Rim

Day 12
Today’s Miles: 5
Total Miles: 139.2
Mazama Village (Crater Lake Campground) to Crater Lake Rim

My first “kinda” zero day. The plan was to hike along the rim tomorrow with my dad, and then reconnect with the PCT to continue north. I decided to hike the small section from the campground up to the Crater Lake rim today in order to make tomorrow a little shorter.

I was still awake at my usual 5:30 a.m. but just lounged in my tent reading and writing in my journal. Ahhh…a relaxing morning.

When I ventured out I saw Thomas! I thought I recognized the tent near me. He was feeling so great out of Fish Lake, he kept hiking pass the Island Lake junction, and made it to Crater Lake in just two days. (Wow!)

Thomas apologized for not meeting up with me. I assured him it all worked out, and I was happy his knee was better so he could make up the miles. He took a zero day yesterday, and was heading up to the rim and out of the park today.

So excited for breakfast, I headed to the restaurant; I really missed eggs, but it was closed. According to the website (when I did my research a few weeks ago), it was open for breakfast. Disappointed, I checked out the general store and bought some snacks to get me by, including frosted doughnuts, which are a very special treat. I rarely eat stuff like that, but I decided I earned it. I also bought postcards and chapstick.

Back at camp I went through a “free box” stored inside the bear box. It was full of food we eat, so I grabbed a bunch of it, but I was equally excited to find a couple of beers with a note “Trail magic from Cribbage.” Yay- I decided I should have one.

Using the tiny sink in the bathroom I did some laundry by hand. I had to hold down the handle to keep the water running, so not ideal (it took me forever), but the laundry facilities were closed (thanks COVID), so I had to improvise. Using a tent rope between two trees, I made a little clothes line for drying.

Ready to get my mini hike in, I took everything out of my pack except a water bottle, snack, sunscreen and money. It was SO light and easy. I found the Annie Spring trailhead near “A” loop in the campground, and wound my way up. I was happy with my decision right away to hike this section today. It was straight UP, and challenging with a light pack, let alone with full supplies.

The official PCT never provides a view of Crater Lake, so most hikers deviate from the official trail and hike the Rim Trail for one of the biggest “WOW” factors the state has to offer, and then reconnect with the PCT. This was my plan for tomorrow.

I saw another one of those wow trees – one trunk with four trees coming out. This made me think of my family of four – I certainly missed everyone.

Arriving at the rim, and seeing the lake was a real moment of celebration; it brought tears to my eyes. I couldn’t believe I walked all the way here from California! It was a big moment. My mini goal was to make it to Crater Lake, and I did it!

I’ve been here several times, even twice just last summer, but it never looses it’s marvel, and this was all together a different feeling. I met some thru-hikers last year while visiting, and remember thinking, “I hope that’s me one day.”

I sat by the rim soaking it all in, and checked in with folks back home (cell service). I wanted to share the big occasion. A few people were skeptical I could do it, so I sent them an update with the undertone, “I’m DOING it!”

I met my parents outside the lodge. My mom always dreamed of staying in the Crater Lake lodge, so this was a good excuse. It was nice to see familiar people. I was so pleased they were there to support me and bring my resupplies. It made the journey significantly easier, and almost felt like “cheating.” My parents both retired last year, so it was perfect timing, and I think they enjoyed meeting me along the way as much as I did – a definite win-win.

Those famous Crater Lake rocking chairs

The lodge is so fun, but this year it was only open to overnight guests. My parents “snuck” me into their room to shower since the showers in the campground were closed (thanks COVID).

It was one of the BEST showers I’ve ever enjoyed. My shampoo was even in my resupply bag, what luxury! After I showered, I took a bath. I would have soaked into the night, but we had plans to get dinner. I had clean clothes in my bag; this day was absolute heaven.

We went back down to the Mazama Village and had dinner at Annies. I got my pizza! They brought us three wrong pizzas before finally getting it right. They apologized with four free gigantic desserts. It was way too much, but we did our best to eat the ice-cream since it doesn’t travel well in a to-go box.

I was dropped off at camp so my dad could find it easily tomorrow morning to pick me up. I had just enough light to get organized for tomorrow. I sorted out my food, and made a pile of stuff for my parents to take with them. Even though I didn’t have a big hiking day, I was tired. I’d be back at it tomorrow.

Day 12 Sunset

Pacific Crest Trail Oregon: Day 9 to Island Lake

Day Nine
Today’s Miles: 15.6
Total Miles: 99.5
Fish Lake to Island Lake (Sky Lakes Wilderness)

Despite feeling completely safe last night, I didn’t sleep well. I tossed and turned, waking up a dozen times. This became my new normal, and it wasn’t because I was uncomfortable. I had an amazing sleeping pad I LOVE, that’s cushy and comfy (but bulky – so it’s my one “luxury” item).
[SeaToSummit – Comfort Plus S.I. – Self Inflating]
I always fell asleep quickly on the trail, completely exhausted, but I honestly think it was just too quite. Being a mom, I woke up to every little sound.

Going into section TWO today of the Oregon PCT:
Fish Lake up to Cascade Crest (passing Crater Lake):

My headlamp died while I was journaling last night, so at 5 a.m. I went up to the bathroom to charge it. Maybe it wasn’t very charged out of the package (it was brand new), but thank goodness I was somewhere with charging power! Having light is vital out on the trail.
My ankle was SORE. I was definitely nervous about my day.

My very full backpack – day one of solo hiking!

My pack was significantly heavier, which didn’t help the ankle. I was carrying four day’s worth of food, all of the gear myself (no more hiking partners to help carry shared weight), and I needed enough water to get me through nearly the whole day.

Thomas had support tape for injuries, and he let me borrow some for my ankle. He left camp at 7 a.m., still planning to meet me at Island Lake for the night. I was 30 minutes behind him, but was moving VERY slowly.

I had to hike the 2 miles back to the PCT, not something I factored into my original itinerary, so this was going to be my longest hiking day so far, on top of being injured and carrying a ton of weight. Here we go PCT!

It was a really tough two miles, and I arrived back at the trail in tears. I willed myself the whole way, and my mental game was being challenged. My ankle hurt, and every step brought pain and worry. I started questioning what I should do. It seemed like a really stupid idea to push forward. What if it got worse and I needed rescued? The last thing I wanted to do was put strain on our resources during the pandemic. I was entering deep wilderness for the next few days, and I didn’t want to be stranded.

Weighing the options…

Since I was considering cutting a day out of my itinerary, my final hike up to Crater Lake would be nearly 22 miles – that’s a big day on healthy legs, let alone with an injury! Additionally, my parents had a room reserved at the Crater Lake lodge (a bucket list item for my mom), so I had an itinerary to keep…

I ate several Ibuprofrin and texted Carl my dilemma. He obviously couldn’t make the decision for me, but suggested I spend one more day at Fish Lake so I could simply rest, and hopefully my ankle would feel better tomorrow.

The thought of backtracking, even just 2 miles, sounded so defeating. I decided to keep going and have zero expectations for the next few days. If I had to do it in 4, then I had enough food, and the time to make it happen. I would just go slow. Unfortunately, this would be the last cell service I had until tomorrow mid-morning. Poor Carl; talk about setting him up for a night of worry.

It was a LONG trying day. The Ibuprofrin helped, but I was in pain with every single step. My spirits were really low. I felt like my body was failing me; I literally limped the whole way to Island Lake, but I made it!

I took many breaks, ate a lot of Ibuprofrin, and had nearly zero scenery moments to take my mind off things. It was the real-deal Green Tunnel: how hikers describe many sections of Oregon. I don’t want to use the word, “boring,” but, it was mile after mile of the same thing all day.

Although I was in the Sky Lakes Wilderness, the PCT bypasses all the lakes in the area so the trail can keep as near to the actual crest of the mountains as possible – otherwise it would be the Pacific Lakes Trail.

Fourmile lake in the distance

Adding insult to injury, I entered mosquito alley today. It was one of the worst mosquito experiences I’ve had up to this day (more would come in future days). I had tons of repellent on, (and not the hippie-dippie stuff I usually wear), this was full of DEET, but it didn’t seem to matter. Why did I leave the mosquito net in my resupply bag?

I knew now how lucky I was to have encountered zero mosquitoes until this day. Those little critters can BREAK you, and I felt pretty broken. However, the view of Mt. McLoughlin was nice, even if it was just for a moment, now way behind me.

I made it to Island Lake around 6:15 p.m. – not bad for limping the entire 15+ miles. It was .6 miles off the PCT, but highly recommend in the book, plus, this is where I would meet Thomas!

Alas, no one was there when I arrived. Thomas must have decided to keep going, or he missed the turn off. Island Lake camp was great, but I would enjoy it completely alone. The Pacific Crest Trail was going to TEST every ounce of me today.

Camp for day 9

I had my very own Christmas tree in camp. I was confused why people would go to this great length, and was it done back in December? Perhaps some folks snowshoed in? I’ll never know. If I was car-camping, I would have picked up all the trash, but I just couldn’t risk carrying extra weight with my injury, plus my pack was already really full.

It was nice to have water in camp for cooking and refilling water bottles.

Island Lake

I found a little sunny spot right next to the lake to eat my mushroom risotto backpacker meal for dinner. I read about my hiking day tomorrow, filtered water, and meditated on being brave through the night. The last time I slept out in the middle of the woods alone I was pretty terrified (read all about it here) – and I couldn’t afford another night like that. If I wanted to hike the PCT, I had to be freakin’ brave!

The company of a dragonfly

As soon as the sun went down, the skeeters were out in full force, and I hid in the tent the rest of the night (after hanging my bear bag far away). I half expected another hiker to join me at some point, since this seemed like such a nice camping spot, but I came to realize that thru-hikers don’t veer off the trail very far, and there just weren’t that many people out backpacking this year.

Island Lake Sunset

As much as I love being alone, I found myself kind of lonely and feeling down. The trail is so much fun to share with other people. My ankle really messed up my mental game today, and I started questioning if I was physically capable of hiking the entire state. I decided if my ankle still hurt at Crater Lake and my spirits were this low, I would go home with my parents. This hadn’t been a fun day, and wasn’t that kind of the point to all of this?

As soon as I turned my headlamp off and snuggled in for sleep, I heard a very large crashing noise make its way through the forest, followed by loud banging . It sounded like an animal messing with my food bag – a LARGE animal. The banging lasted for only a minute, followed by more loud crashing – thankfully in the opposite direction of me.

My heart was racing, and of course I kept thinking, “What if the bear got my food bag? Everything is in there!” I even put my cooking stove in it for the first time, thinking it must smell like food now that I’ve used it for over a week. The experts recommend you hang food bags 15-20 ft. above the ground…I’m short, I never did that….oops!

Reflecting back on this day and night, I now know how good and healing it was for me. Real growth comes from the struggle, and this day delivered.

We take for granted our health, until something in our body falters. We take for granted the absence of mosquitoes, until you are swarmed and driven to ultimate frustration. We take for granted the sweeping views, until you are in a tunnel of green for hours and hours. We take for granted the good company we have, until we are all alone. I learned to appreciate all the GOOD on such a deeper level.

Island Lake Camp Tree

According to the book, this is the Judge Waldo Tree, a Shasta Red Fir. It marks the spot where Judge John B. Waldo and his party camped in 1888 on their expedition from Willamette Pass to Mount Shasta.

PCT Oregon Day 7 – Klum Landing Campground to Brown Mtn. Shelter

Day Seven
Today’s Miles: 13.4
Total Miles: 74
Klum Landing Campground to Brown Mountain Shelter

Motivated to beat the heat, Hadlie was up by 6:30 a.m. ready to break down camp and hit the trail. I was awake an hour earlier, and had plenty of time for my morning yoga and meditation. I retrieved the bear bag hanging in a tree a few campsites over.

Yes, I hang my food bag every night backpacking. It gives me piece of mind that is well worth the extra few minutes in my day. I met several people along the PCT who didn’t bother, but I figure it helps to keep small, and large critters alike, from trying to enter my tent.

Trail Graffiti on a PCT sign

After we ate mashed potato burritos (our favorite backpacking breakfast), and returned the now empty gallon water jug with a thank you note, we left Klum Landing Campground and hiked the roughly .5 miles back to the PCT.

Water was a welcome sight pretty quickly in the day, which made me smile. I have not seen much water along the trail so far; a striking difference from the Portland area hikes with an abundance of rivers, waterfalls and lakes.

It was a fairly easy day of hiking with very little ups and downs, and a lot of forest that provided lovely shade. Another not-so-scenic day with the exception of a pretty view of Mt. Shasta for a bit. The mountain was now far in the distance behind me.

We topped off water at Big Springs, around 8 miles from our day’s destination. I read the water pump at Brown Mountain Shelter was broken, and I didn’t want to take any chances. On the flip side, you never want to carry extra water for no reason. Water is super duper heavy! I almost always err on the side of carrying too much, however.

Big Springs Water
Wildflowers near Big Springs
Entering Rogue River National Forest

A couple miles from the shelter, we passed a man hiking with a child. They were barely off the trail having a snack, and asked us about the water situation at the shelter. Their accent led me to believe they were from Europe, but I couldn’t place the country for sure. They had the appearance of thru-hikers, but I just couldn’t believe anyone would be hiking the entire PCT with a kid. Walking away, I wished I had asked more questions, but they seemed reserved, and I didn’t want to be rude.

Hadlie was done hiking by mile 10, her feet were aching, so the shelter was a welcome sight when we arrived around 4:30 p.m. I felt like I could keep going, which was a fantastic feeling. I’m getting my legs!

The book described the shelter as being an undesirable spot to camp, so I was a little nervous to have this be our destination, but it turned out great. There was plenty of space, the shelter added a fun backdrop (though we didn’t go in except for a quick peek), there was a large picnic table, several benches, and the water pump worked just fine – woohoo!

Hadlie was a little annoyed I made her carry all that extra water for nothing, but I didn’t want a repeat of last night’s water shortage situation. There was no one at the shelter when we first got there, but this changed quickly.

A man arrived just three minutes after us. He was a teacher from Boulder, CO, hiking all of Oregon, and Washington if he had time. It was way too early for him to quit for the day, so we wished each other well, and he was off to hike more miles.

Two minutes later, a man from Belgium arrived. His hiking buddy was behind him, and he planned to wait for him at the shelter so they could hike the remaining 10 miles for the day together. They were averaging 30-mile-days; obviously thru-hikers, and they had their legs!

The two men met on day one in Southern California, and had been hiking together ever since. How magical is that! To meet a complete stranger that you are compatible with, not only physically, but also temperament and personality. Talk about Trail Magic.

While Hadlie and I made a backpacker meal of Mac-n-Cheese, Port (PCT trail name), shared trail stories with us. He had several encounters with animals including bears, rattlesnakes, and one spooky Mountain Lion story. He shared his favorite scenery so far, and how he had to jump around California because of the late snow melt in the Sierras.

Port told us about another man from Belgium travelling with his 11-year old son. We told him we passed them earlier in the day! I was SO excited to hear the scoop on this duo.

Indeed, the two of them were hiking the entire PCT. Port told us he hiked a couple hundred miles with them in California, including the climb up Mt. Whitney – icepicks and all. He said it was pretty nerve-wracking climbing the tallest mountain in the contiguous United States with a child. Wow, I was really impressed. Hadlie decided if an 11-year old can hike 2,650 miles, she can do 31.5 without complaining too much.

His buddy, Woody (PCT Trail name), who was from San Diego, didn’t arrive at the shelter until 6:30 p.m., and they decided to call it a day. They just cowboy camped – no tent – simply on the ground in sleeping bags with their food bag between them. Port told me bears are more scared of us than we are of them, and the bears wouldn’t dare approach a human to get to a food bag. Hmmm….okay.

Hadlie and I got our tent set up, and settled in for the night. I hung my bear bag far away from all of us.

Camp For The Night

Around 7 p.m., Shannon (the woman I met at Callahan’s Lodge) strolled into camp. Yay – I was so excited to hear her familiar voice! Thirty minutes later, another man arrived. It felt like a party (socially distanced of course). I wasn’t too worried about COVID, hanging with these folks who had been living in the woods for months.

This night gave me the misperception my evenings would be full of company. However, having people nearby would actually be very rare moving forward.

Shannon was trying to get to Crater Lake in just a few days to meet her husband, and was planning on spending a couple zero days there. I figured I could catch up to her again, and we loosely planned to find each other at the campground.

That evening, Hadlie listened to a podcast while I wrote in my journal. This was one of the most joyous and memorable evenings on the trail.

Flowers surrounding the shelter

Pacific Crest Trail Oregon – Day 5 to Hyatt Lake

Day Five
Today’s Miles: 11.6
Total Miles: 52.4
Camp 7 (near Hobart Bluff Trailhead) to Hyatt Lake

I slept in until 6:30 a.m., and started my morning with yoga stretches and meditation. I focused on affirmations of safety, wellness, and “I’ve got this!” I wanted to face my fear. I was determined to be brave. Today was the final day of backpacking with Carl during this first leg. He wouldn’t join me again until the final few days at the top of the state.

A visual of what Carl and I did the first 5 days – Donomore Pass to Hyatt Lake

We topped off our water, and hit the trail by 8:30 a.m. I was excited to finally be hiking north instead of east. Big animal tracks greeted us first thing. Carl wanted to see a large mammal, apparently not satisfied with his rattlesnake experience yesterday. I didn’t have a strong desire to see any large mammals, and I made a mental note to add that to my morning affirmations.

Cougar?
Bear scratches?

We made it to the Hobart Bluff trailhead in no time. One of the best outhouses on the trail lives here. In fact, you can hike the first 50.6 miles of the Oregon PCT (Northbound) with facilities every night if you plan accordingly. This section is particularly nice for anyone new to backpacking, and wanting to be “eased” into the scene. There is nothing special about the camp at Hobart Bluff Trailhead, our spot last night was far better. I’ll take a beautiful location over an outhouse any day.

Three miles up the trail, the PCT passes through the Green Springs Wildlife Sanctuary for one mile.

We hiked grassy savannas with views into the valley, and open hillsides.

It was a hard day. I was sore, and my body ached more than the previous days. We took many breaks, several involved taking shoes and socks off to allow our feet to breathe.

Toward the end of our day, we heard the sound of water and got so excited! This meant we were almost to our destination for the night. On the shore of the outlet of Little Hyatt Reservoir we took a proper break, soaking our feet in the water, eating the last of our food – which included a treat of a freeze dried ice-cream bar (that wasn’t very good), and chatted about our five amazing days together.

The kids met us at Hyatt Lake campground where we found a spot to stay for the night. I was tempted by the cabins with hot tubs rented out at Camper’s Cove Resort, but we decided $12.00 for a spot at the campground was a good deal, and more in our budget. We had to reserve online because of the pandemic, and none of us had great phone service. After a frustrating 30 minutes, and an $8.00 fee to reserve online, we had our spot for the night.

At 5:50 p.m. we headed to the Camper’s Cove Resort for dinner to discover they close at 6 p.m. Oh no! I planned on us eating at a restaurant for this night in my resupply bag planning, so I panicked for a minute. It certainly felt like we were out in the middle of nowhere, and we were mega minimal camping tonight. Why would a restaurant serving dinner close at 6 p.m.?

Thankfully the woman inside, (ironically named Sunshine because she was not all that friendly) told us about another restaurant just 10 minutes down the road, open till 8 p.m. – woohoo!

Cocorico was FANTASTIC – highly recommended!

We were immediately so happy the other place closed, because we knew this would be superior in every way. The menu was ideal, the owner of the restaurant was beyond friendly, the outside seating was great, and they even had a play structure our little one could play on while we waited for our food. Slam dunk perfect, and the food was AMAZING. This was a highlight of my entire Oregon adventure. (Well, I REALLY like food.)

When we got back to camp I had a mini breakdown; I couldn’t find my phone anywhere. Carl even drove around to retrace our steps. All I could think was, “Now I can’t hike the PCT!” My daughter, Hadlie, was probably hoping with fingers crossed, “Now I don’t have to hike part of the PCT.” (The plan was for her to join me the next three days.) Crisis averted when I finally found it in the car.

I got the four-year-old to sleep around 10 p.m., and happily fell asleep myself after listening to my daughter freak out about all the bugs she could see (on the outside) of her tent. Oy, I’m backpacking with her tomorrow? 🙂

PCT Oregon – Day 4: Passing Pilot Rock to Hobart Bluff

Day Four
Today’s Miles: 11.5
Total Miles: 40.8
Callahan’s Mountain Lodge to Camp 7 (near Hobart Bluff Trailhead)

Sleep did not go so well last night. I tossed and turned in my big comfortable bed with pillows. You just never know with sleep…My daughter had an 8 a.m. Zoom meeting for work, and I was up on my computer as well. I checked the PCT Facebook pages for any pertinent updates, and even posted a photo. I was really doing it! I met my very first thru hiker at breakfast. I envisioned seeing several PCT hikers at the lodge, but this would be the story of my journey; there just weren’t that many people hiking this year.

I was nervous about being alone in a few short days, and hoped I’d find a buddy to tag along with, (like all the PCT videos I watched on YouTube). I wasn’t scared to hike solo all day, but I was nervous about being alone at night. (If you missed my spooky story of solo camping Labor Day weekend 2019, you can enjoy it here.)

*Shannon was a spunky woman who was not shy in telling me all her terrifying close-encounter animal stories through California. This was NOT the kind of conversation my anxious mind needed. She was averaging 20-mile days, but taking the day off (zero-day), was heading into Ashland today. Shannon would easily catch up to me, and maybe we could try to stay together for a bit. I didn’t think there was any way I would ever be doing 20-mile days, but knowing she wouldn’t be far behind gave me some comfort.

At breakfast, Carl’s vegetable omelet arrived with no veggies, but the fruit plate was amazing, and my little guy enjoyed more lizard viewing.

At last it was time to say goodbye to Callahan’s and to the kids, and we hit the trail. Our 4-year-old was really sad to see mom and dad go, mostly because he wanted to hike with us (he loves to hike).

It was 11:15 a.m. and my heart was heavy to see my daughter and son drive off, but my soul was joyous to be on the trail again. It already felt like home. The book described this section as being “somewhat undesirable,” crossing several roads with a close proximity to civilization; but, I loved it! I learned to take the book with a grain of salt. Sure, this section might not compare to the views of Mt. Hood that would greet me at the top of the state, but each day on the trail had it’s own beauty I found easy to appreciate.

More lizards greet us along the way.

Today brought a huge array of landscapes, and a wide variety of vegetation. We saw Junipers, Firs, and Madrones, sweeping views of Mt. Shasta, and most notably, we went right by Pilot Rock.

Turbo bug spray repellant up for grabs – I will need it in a few days!

We had a couple locations of phenomenal views that beckoned snack breaks, and open hillsides with I-5 far below.

As suddenly as it appeared, Pilot Rock was behind us. This felt so magical, and I never tired of it through the whole state as I watched landmarks come and go.

Pilot Rock in our rearview mirror

One of the most interesting vegetation I saw in all of Oregon was during this section; a seed pod or fruit. It looked so edible, and there was definite evidence of critters enjoying it.

Can anyone identify this?

We met another hiker along the way, *Thomas. He was doing all of Oregon as well, but had a hurt knee, and was taking long breaks. We all filtered water at a piped spring (marked by a post in a grassy clearing). We planned on camping only 2 miles ahead near a pond, but we figured water from a piped spring is always preferable to a pond.

Half a mile up from the spring, Carl realized he didn’t have his sunglasses. We dropped our packs, and he ran back to find them. He returned with one of the best “close-encounter” stories of the trail…it just didn’t involve me.

He was running, trying to hurry when he thought, “I should slow down and walk. I won’t see my sunglasses if I’m running.” Nearly 30 seconds later, he saw a HUGE rattlesnake in the trail. He may have stepped right on it if he had still been running. In this area, the PCT was overgrown with thick grasses, so it was hard to see the trail. I made Carl walk in front of me through tall grass sections the rest of the day, and I was happy it was his story to tell, not mine.

We made it to what my book calls “Camp 7” for this PCT section, 1.7 miles south of Hobart Bluff Trailhead. This was Carl’s first real-deal backcountry camping experience. No amenities here, except a great water source. The pond was barely accessible, and the water looked very questionable, but Carl found a pipe with flowing water nearby, much better than the pond! Thomas camped here as well.

Carl and I snagged a wonderful spot with a great view next to a meadow full of wildflowers. This was one of my favorite nighttime locations on the whole trail, and one of my favorite evenings; probably because Carl was with me. Hiking with him was fun, and he made me feel safe. I was nervous I’d be facing the trail alone soon. Not only was I nervous about sleeping in the middle of nowhere all alone, I was nervous about carrying all my gear. With Carl, the weight was shared between the two of us, and my pack already felt so heavy.

We set up the tent and had dinner, now equipped with plasticware from the lodge. We no longer had to eat with my toothbrush! The most amazing sunset followed. We sat on a big rock for over an hour watching the sky turn colors as a doe grazed in the meadow nearby.

As soon as it was completely dark, we saw city lights below that added to the whole scene. The weather was perfect, it never got cold, and there were ZERO mosquitoes, even though we were right by the pond. It felt like a miracle. Despite the nervousness in the back of my mind, my heart was full, and my smile was wide.

*I’ve changed the names of fellow hikers I met along the way for privacy.
Did you miss the beginning of my PCT Oregon journey? Here is Day One.