Tag Archives: Oregon PCT

PCT Oregon Day 10 to Seven Lakes Basin

Day 10
Today’s Miles: 13.1
Total Miles: 112.6
Island Lake (Sky Lakes Wilderness) to Camp 10 (Seven Lakes Basin)

I was awake at sunrise and ready to get out of Island Lake camp. Although I didn’t sleep well, I never let fear completely take over. I was a little scared off and on, but nothing debilitating. Last night gave me the confidence that I can really do this!

Farewell Island Lake Camp

Good news: my bear bag was hanging right where I left it. I wish I had a camera on it to see what really happened last night, but I’ll never know for sure. The mosquitoes were awful again, so I tried to hurry my packing process.

My ankle was feeling better. I was worried it would be worse today after all the weight on it yesterday, but thankfully it seemed to be healing. It was still sore, but I was on the mend – woohoo! I took the support tape off, wondering if that actually made it worse yesterday.

According to my book, there was zero water on the trail today until camp this evening, so I filled my bottles. There was no cell reception here, which always adds a small level of fear when you are alone, so I was anxious to check in with Carl; I knew he was probably worried.

I love these wooden signs.

I hiked the .6 miles back to the PCT and was on my way. The pain in my ankle shot up through my leg pretty quickly, so I took Ibuprofrin and stayed medicated through the day, though it was much better than yesterday.

Only 2.5 miles up, I passed the invisible milestone of 100 MILES on the Oregon section of the PCT (from the California border). My mileage is higher because I count ALL the miles I hike, including side trips to camping locations. I was hoping for a little trail graffiti to mark the location, but there wasn’t any. Still, a pretty uplifting milepost. I decided early, this would be a good day!

It turned out to be one of the most epic hiking days yet. The views were outstanding, and I really needed it to lift my spirits. At the first big rocky outcrop, I climbed onto a boulder with sweeping views. There were a ton of hummingbirds, and I finally figured out they were attracted to my red sleeping pad, hence all the dive bombing.

I checked for cell service, and was connected to the outside world. I let Carl know I was doing okay, as he was worried about me of course. I let my parents know I was safe as well. My mom worried about me now that I was hiking alone. I also heard news about my previous work world that caused some stress. The price you pay for “checking in” – I had to shake it off, and hike on.

With all these amazing views, came a lot of climbing. My endurance was tested today. It was tough, but thankfully once I got out on the open cliffs, the mosquitoes went away – yay!

This was also the first day the trail made me just a little nervous. It was narrow in parts, with a loose rocky surface, and a very steep cliffside. If I lost my footing, it would not end well! I paid close attention and was very careful. My heavy pack made me extra cautious – it would send me flying down pretty quickly. Plus, I only saw one other person hiking all day (until later in the evening).

I went through the 790 fire burn area (2014) that burned two miles of the PCT. This was the first burn area (of many) I encountered. It was actually quite beautiful, just in a different way. The flowers were amazing through this section. I certainly said a little prayer that the trail would stay safe and open – free from fires this year.

I read blogs of previous hikers in 2016 and 2017 when basically all of Oregon was on fire, and they were forced to bypass much of the state. Well, my prayer was answered for part of the summer, as 2020 would be a devastating fire season in the later months.

The last big climb (that really tested me) provided views of Mt. McLoughlin and even Mt. Shasta, now WAY behind me.

First patch of snow sighted – just off the trail

Once I got around Devils Peak, the view was breathtaking. I sat in a little alcove with nearly a 360 degree view – WOW in every direction. Previous hikers had placed fun “sitting” rocks to enjoy the scene, and I took full advantage. This day reminded me of why I’m doing this, and I felt so grateful, humbled, and blessed.
I really love Oregon.

Fun sitting rocks

Then it was time to go DOWN…it was a very steep set of switchbacks that ended with the sweet sound of a bubbling creek, and my camp for the night just beyond it. (Camp 10 in my book – pg. 89)

Yay for WATER!

Camping here would make tomorrow a little longer, but according to my book, it sounded like the very best spot in the area. It was on a cliff with a view of Devils Peak and a panorama to the west. I’m a sucker for a camp with a view, and will ALWAYS opt for that when given a choice. I also figured this was my best shot at mosquito reprieve since it was open as opposed to ducking back into the forest.

View From Camp

I was excited no one was there yet. It was still early to quit for thru-hiker standards, only 4:30 p.m. I claimed my spot and heard people coming down the trail pretty quickly. I met two thru-hikers hiking for the second year in a row. They met each other on the PCT last year, and decided to hike it again.

“The world is pretty much shit right now (i.e. pandemic), so why not hike the PCT again,” one hiker shared. They had both lost their jobs too.

Two minutes later, a group of four appeared. I heard accents, and they were all clearly thru-hikers as well. Two of the women were sisters from New Zealand, one man was from Hong Kong, and I can’t remember the 4th. Everyone was planning on getting to Mazama Village (Crater Lake campground) tomorrow. I told them it was my goal, but I was nervous. It would be the most mileage I’ve done so far. They encouraged me saying,
“You can totally do it – you got this!” As a side note, this whole crew started at Fish Lake this morning – where I was two mornings ago. They were putting in 30 mile days.

One of the hikers, “Catch” (trail name) from Hong Kong, asked if he could share this camp spot with me. I tried to tamper my excitement so he didn’t think I was too weird, but I was SO happy I wouldn’t be alone again at night. I still had my large 2-person tent that definitely took up more space than I needed, but I snagged the only spot that would work for it.

Carl was working on getting me a single person tent that would be half the weight of the 2-person I was currently carrying. That would make a big difference!

The other hikers kept going to find camps up the trail. Feeling a little anxious, I boiled my drinking water, which was super embarrassing to do in front of a thru-hiker, though I doubt he took notice. I’m sure the creek water was fantastic, but I just couldn’t stomach it this night.

Catch hung in his tent and we never talked. I was kinda bummed; thru-hikers are so interesting, but I’m guessing they get tired of sharing their trail stories. At the end of the day, I was super tired, so I understood. All I really wanted to do was relax in my sleeping bag too.

View from inside my tent
Inside my tent view

An older couple came rolling in around 8 p.m. and asked to camp with us. We said, “Of course!” The good tent spots were limited, but they made something work. They were so great, super cute, so excited about everything, and appreciated all the surroundings and the time together. They were just out wandering the trails for a week with no real destination in mind, and swam in four lakes today – that made me smile.

We got a magnificent sunset. Mt. Thielsen loomed in the distance. I wrote in my journal and enjoyed the changing sky. As I fell asleep, a frog came to visit me under the flap of the tent – always a good omen! This was a really good day, especially following my incredibly challenging day before, and my ankle was MUCH better! I was pumped for my super duper big day tomorrow!

Track Musings:
The last couple of days I’ve spotted the below tracks on the trail. The first time I thought, “What the hell kind of animal is that? Is a small child hiking in those barefoot shoes?” I was completely perplexed, but then I saw the tracks more with each passing day, and I concluded it must be a cute print on the bottom of a set of trekking poles. This little print in the trail for the next 150 miles brought me great comfort. I felt like I was following someone and sharing the trail with this person. He or she was only a day ahead of me, guiding me along. It felt like company in an odd way. When you are hiking alone for hours upon hours, you have a lot of time to create ideas of comfort for yourself. This little track became a big deal in my mind over the next few weeks.

Did you miss the beginning of my journey? Access Day One

Oregon PCT Backpacking Day 3 to Callahan’s Lodge

Day Three
Today’s Miles: 9
Total Miles: 29.3
Mt. Ashland Campground to Callahan’s Mountain Lodge

I slept MUCH better last night with the help of the wind lulling me to sleep. It took some time for me to figure out how to be comfortable without a pillow. Carl has decided a pillow will be his one luxury item on future backpacking trips. I was out of the tent by 5:15 a.m. and watched the sunrise. It was a beautiful morning, and the wind had died down.

Only faced with 9 miles for today, we enjoyed our morning, not needing to rush. However, we were low on water, so we rationed last night in order to make breakfast this morning. I was feeling a bit dehydrated, but water was hopefully waiting for us at what used to be the Mt. Ashland Inn, 3 miles ahead. We were on the trail by 8:30 a.m. and enjoyed another morning of wildflowers, some views of Mt. Shasta and a giant manmade birds nest.

Trail Art?

The Mt. Ashland Inn used to serve PCT hikers, but is now a private residence. Thankfully they have maintained a water spigot for hikers to use. I wasn’t sure it would be turned on this year amid the pandemic, but it was! With proper use of hand sanitizer, water bottles can still be filled. We enjoyed a little break snacking at the picnic table overlooking a beautiful garden full of vegetables and flowers.

I was sore and tired today, so a short hiking day was perfect. Shortly after leaving the Mt. Ashland Inn, I saw my first deer on the PCT.

There was also a fun view of Pilot Rock. We saw it the first day, and it already looked so much closer just three days later. This would be the first of landmarks on the horizon I would see far in the distance and watch it draw closer as my feet moved along the trail. This felt so phenomenal, but it was especially magical with Pilot Rock. We would go right by it tomorrow, even though it looked so far away still.

Pilot Rock

Old stage coach road

We made it to Callahan’s Lodge in no time. Taking the side trail down to the lodge, we got turned around for a minute (thanks to some locals who sent us in the wrong direction), but we retraced our steps and found the way. I crossed my first paved road today, which was weird, and later hiked under I-5, which was even more strange. We got to the lodge around 1:30 p.m., and immediately remembered the pandemic, putting our masks on before entering.

It was early in the day and we could have kept hiking, but I was excited to stay at the lodge, and we made plans for the kids to meet us here to give grandma and grandpa a little break.

The lodge offers a backpackers special for hikers who simply arrive with packs on (much cheaper than booking a room in advance). We could tent on the lawn outside the lodge, or for a very reasonable price, we could get a big corner room to ourselves – we splurged on the room! The kids were staying the night, so having a big room to coral the 4-year old would prove extremely useful. I was a little nervous with the pandemic, but we only saw a few other people there the whole time, and it was easy to keep distance.

Carl and I headed to the patio for lunch while we waited for the room. We have only eaten outside at restaurants during the pandemic, and this patio did not disappoint.

We shared a delicious pitcher of Amber ale from an Ashland brewery, but didn’t have the best food experience. However, we were gifted with a free pitcher, so I won’t belabor the point that food arrived frozen, or was completely forgotten. The service was friendly, and we have to give restaurants a little leeway during all the COVID craziness. With my beer buzz, I was happy, if not entirely fed.

Our room was ready shortly after, and we showered. Showering is the BEST after a couple days of backpacking (or 11 days of backpacking…which I will get to later in the journey). The kids arrived shortly after this, and the little one was SO happy to see me. I worried about the next four weeks. How was I going to be away for so long? We walked the quarter mile nature trail around the property a couple of times, stopping to view the waterfalls and lizards along the way.

My parents came to have dinner with us at the lodge and helped me replace the batteries in my GPS, which were already dead.

That evening brought anxiousness for me. It felt overwhelming to go through my resupply bag, and repack for the next leg, as well as factor in what the kids needed for the next couple of days. I had to figure out where Carl and I would get water the next day, etc. etc.

On top of all this, my book made the next leg sound awful; hot, not that pretty, and basically a means to an end. I felt defeated, What am I getting myself into? I was so happy to see the kids and give my parents a night off, but it threw me a little. Plus the 4-year old napped on the way to the lodge, so he was up past midnight. We had big comfy beds with pillows, but still didn’t get the best sleep. Lessons learned…





Oregon PCT Day 2: Wrangle Camp to Mt. Ashland Campground

Day Two
Today’s Miles: 12.6
Total Miles: 20.3
Wrangle Campground to Mt. Ashland Campground

Night one was one of the weirdest nights I had on the entire trail, and I was really happy not to be alone. It was a rough night of sleeping, or rather not sleeping. We heard creatures constantly through the night. Things walking around the tent, and loud honking noises. Our neighbor friend said it was deer, but I’ve never heard deer honk like that.

At one point, something hit the tent with so much force I bolted straight up, wide awake. All the thoughts cross your mind…What animals are out there? Will they hurt us, and why do they keep walking around our tent? What if this man cowboy camping is not to be trusted, and is going to mess with us all night? I know if I had been alone, I would have been scared until morning. This allowed doubt to creep in, “Can I really do this once I AM alone?” By 5:45 a.m., it was light enough for me to start my day, and Carl quickly followed suit.

First sunrise on the Trail – 7/12/20

I did a meditation that would become my morning routine. Mostly mantras that involved, “I’m safe, I’m healthy, I’m strong, I’m smart, I’ve got this,” followed by some much needed stretching. We were both pretty sore today. I guess that’s why one would want to “practice.” We made mashed potato wraps with tortillas and Idahoans for breakfast.

“I am the master of my fate. I am the captain of my soul” – picnic table inside the Camp Wrangle Shelter

We hoped to be on the trail by 7:30 a.m. to beat the heat, as today would offer little shade, according to my book. We started hiking at 7:50 a.m., and had to take layers off by the time we hit the PCT, half a mile from camp. The day was beautiful, and I was SO beyond happy I didn’t skip this section of Oregon. The wildflowers were otherworldly. We saw a few day hikers today, and the locals told us we really lucked out with the flowers, it was the best display they had seen in years.

I wasn’t sure what to expect when we saw a local day hiker. This was of some concern when I planned on hiking the whole state. Would people be upset we were in their area during the pandemic? However, everyone was so nice, and asked us where we were heading, assuming we were long-distance hikers. I said, “Mt. Ashland Campground” (tonight’s destination), but quickly realized people were interested in the final destination (Cascade Locks). I then told people, “I’m HOPING to do all of Oregon.” It would take a couple weeks for me to have the confidence to say, “I’m hiking ALL of Oregon!”

We filtered our very first water on the trail, .3 miles up from Long John Saddle, and paired it with a lunch break. It was a little stream, but someone built a tiny waterfall out of a leaf up the hillside that worked perfect for filtering. This trick would come in handy plenty more times.

Here is my secret about filtered water that I’m embarrassed to share, but in the spirit of full transparency: water out on the trail makes me nervous. I worry about the .01% chance that something will make me sick, and since I have a bit of an anxious tendency, my mind will immediately go to “soiled water” if I start to feel a tummy upset. So, to battle this completely irrational fear, I filtered my water and boiled it when I had any doubt on the purity. (Insert hands over my face in shame emoji.)

The second half of the day we walked through meadows with sweeping views of Mt. Shasta, and along open hillsides.

Towards the end of the day we were feeling it. My feet hurt, my shoulders hurt, my waist hurt…we were looking forward to camp. It took a little bit of finding, but we arrived at Mt. Ashland campground, a free car camping spot with vault toilets and picnic tables about .5 miles off the trail. We had another night of amenities!

The campground is beautiful with a view of Mt. Shasta and the whole valley in one direction, and Mt. Ashland in the other. However, it was incredibly windy, therefore very cold. There was firewood and kindling left in our site, so Carl got a small fire going for us to enjoy while we ate our ramen and bibimbap backpacker meal.

We walked around the campground and found some really interesting info on the kiosk board. Check this out about Mt. Ashland Lupin:

When it got dark, we could see city lights in the valley. Even though I’m hiking to get away from it all, there is something pretty about twinkling lights off in the distance. We hit the tent by 9 p.m. again, exhausted and hopeful the wind would provide some white noise (that I’m really used to having…perhaps addicted to). Sleeping without white noise would be a struggle for the entire trail…sleep in general would be my biggest challenge.

Did you miss Day One of my PCT journey? You can find it: Here