Day 107 // 19.2 miles (plus 1.6 side trail to Callahan's)
PCT mile 1720.0
Total miles: 1198.9
I had a nice, slow morning on the trail. Lots of wooded green tunnel. Cheer was just a bit behind me, and as I reached the next water source, I bumped into a mom and her daughters. They also had a sweet dog! They were super friendly, and eventually I found out that they had lived in Fort Wayne for a few years before moving to Northern California! So fun!
Before getting to Oregon, I had heard people call it "flat", but it's definitely not. I think what they mean is that the climbs are more gentle and long compared to other sections of trail.
After a climb, I rounded the corner and saw another hiker sitting and enjoying a Coke from a trail magic cooler. The other hiker was Lok from Germany. His trail name was short for Lokomotive, since he was a part of a trail fam know as the Euro Train.
As we were taking a break, a giant family of day hikers from the Philippines came past. Being near Ashland on the weekend, we came across SO many day hikers today! Seems like Ashland has a very outdoorsy culture. I'd definitely like to visit there sometime since we decided to bypass it this time.
We passed beautiful fields of wildflowers and still could see Mount Shasta today.
After a long stretch of downhill toward Callahan's Lodge, we finally made it to the side trail. It was super steep, and we passed a trainyard before popping out by the I-5 Interstate. As we headed down the road to the Lodge, a couple in an SUV slowed and asked if I was a PCT hiker. They offered me a ride to Ashland and a place to stay on the spot! I thanked them and explained that we we're headed to Fish Lake Resort to meet our friends for resupply, but just wanted to stop at Callahan's for dinner. What a friendly spot! At Callahan's we saw Orca, Lok, and a few other hikers that I recognized. There was also a wedding going on, and our hikertrash selves tried to stay out of the way!
Cheer and I went to the restaurant, and after two helpings of the unlimited spaghetti (a hiker special), we also ordered milkshakes! Soon after, a waiter asked if we wanted some leftover appetizers from the wedding. Of course we said yes, and helped ourselves to the veggie tray and brie dip with crackers.
Completely stuffed, we got our packs back on and prepared to hike 2 more miles to the next campsite.
It took extra effort to get up the hill with the biggest food baby ever, but the next little section of trail was a bit of road walk.
The sunset was gorgeous, and we soon made it to the next stream and campsite.
Day 108 // 21.2 miles
PCT mile 1741.2
Total miles: 1220.1
We had another slower morning since we're not really in a rush to meet Laura on the 24th. After filtering water and eating breakfast, we started up a little climb and passed some ladies hiking together.
Eventually we reached a cool vista where we could see Mt. Shasta and Pilot Rock.
The sun was hot even though it was still early, so I was thankful for the green tunnels of trees we got to walk through today.
We stopped for lunch at the next water source and met a guy named Dr. Frivolous. He is the first person I've met who is hiking with a guitar! Though he's hiked without it before, he really enjoys having it along. As we ate our lunch, he strummed a few different songs.
I taped up my feet, since I could feel a hotspot from my new shoes coming on, then we slowly packed up and hit the trail again.
I went through a few more exposed, hot areas, but the trail usually led back through some shady ones. After reaching a really pretty wooded section, I whipped out my nicer camera to take some photos. One reason I'm thankful I brought it is because it helps me slow down sometimes and admire the details along the trail that are easy to miss. Sadly I won't be able to edit and post those photos until I get home, but it will be fun to relive the memories when I go through them!
Cheer and I took a little break and a guy named Scott passed us. We were all heading to Little Hyatt Lake to make camp for the night.
I chomped down my Snickers and listened to music as I powered down the trail.
Pacific Crust Trail... Lol.
When I got to the lake outlet, refilled my water until Cheer and Scott came up behind me. We found some nice spots by the bank and were happy to have gotten there a bit earlier in the evening.
We made our dinner by the lake and enjoyed the nice view!
Scott came over and talked to us a bit - he just retired and is section hiking Oregon. It was sweet to hear how his wife and kids encouraged him to do this now that he has the time.
I settled into my quilt and drifted off to sleep.
Day 109 // 22.1 miles PCT mile 1763.3 Total miles: 1242.2 We had another nice leisurely morning today. I slept in and enjoyed some nice views of the lake from my tent over breakfast. Scott came over and gave us more of his leftover food. (Oreos and Nutter Butters, alright!) We got packed up, filtered a bit more water for a 10 mile carry, and headed out.
The trail today was mostly gentle up and down through the woods. I didn't mind that at all. Some people might think that walking through a tunnel of pines is boring, but I guess for me it's just relaxing. Plus, it's been extremely hot, and I'm thankful for such good shade most of the day!
I reached the river ten miles in where we had planned to have lunch, filtered water, and found a nice spot in the shade. Cheer joined me about 15 minutes later. We've been settling into walking at our own pace, but meeting for lunch, breaks, and at camp. It's a great way to hike, since you don't have to slow down or speed up for the other person, but you still have good company and someone watching out for you. I listened to my audiobook most of the day. I'm just about through with the last book of the Wingfeather Saga, and I've gotten really into it! Such great books. They remind me of the Lord of the Rings or Narnia, but with the humor of the Princess Bride. It's nice to have a story to focus on when you're wandering mostly through the woods for 8 hours a day! We stopped for a break by the spring, filled enough water to get to camp, and enjoyed the wildflower blooms surrounding us. So pretty and intricate! The rest of the day was hiking through more beautiful green tunnel and wondering how the Wingfeather children were going to make it through their adventures.
I saw the turnoff for Brown Mountain Shelter, where we planned to camp, and headed down the trail. Hearing laughter, I knew we wouldn't be alone. I got to the clearing, where there were at least 10 other hikers sitting at the picnic table or getting water from an extremely unwieldy pump. I was a little overwhelmed to see so many people - apparently we wouldn't be sleeping in the shelter as there definitely wasn't room for all of us - but it was great to have help with the water pump. I also saw some familiar hikers that I recognized from the desert - Humperdinck and Elbib from Denmark. A girl named Fat Rat was sitting at the table too, and we all talked for a while with a guy who is section hiking Oregon. Cheer rolled into camp soon afterwards, and we both went to set up our tents, then rejoined the group again for dinner. Since we only stopped briefly in Seiad Valley, today is our 8th day without a shower, laundry, or rest. Can't wait to take some time off and get rid of this hiker funk smell!
Day 110 // 10.1 miles PCT mile 1773.4 Total miles: 1252.3 Knowing we only had to make it 10 miles today to highway 140, we got to sleep in today! After breakfast, we talked a bit with a SOBO couple who stopped for water, then hit the trail.
Like last night, the trail was pretty woodsy for the first few miles, and then we hit the lava rock. It was a pretty crazy transition! I rounded a corner and BOOM. There was Mt. McLoughlin!
We soon saw David again, a section hiker we met last night. He is a teacher from Sheraton, WY, and was trying to stay positive about his hike, even though the trail was a lot tougher than he thought it would be.
We made it to the highway around 2:15, and just after, we saw Troy and Laura's van! They are friends of my parents from when we lived in South Bend, and it was so sweet of them to offer to host us. We made a quick stop over to Fish Lake Resort to pick up a care package from Laura Merchant and her coworker Elise, and then started the drive back to Klamath Falls where the Rifes live.
It was so nice to settle in, shower, and get laundry done at their place. Our last couple town stops have been hectic, but it was nice to be able to stay in one place and still get errands done.
My mom also had friends send birthday cards here for me since my birthday is right around the corner. With the care package, cards, and a great place to stay, I was feeling so loved. Laura also made me an ice cream cake! My favorite.
Laura made us dinner, and afterwards, we all enjoyed watching Remember the Titans. It was so nice to chill for a while. I think this was the first movie I've watched since being on trail!
Day 111 // 0 miles
PCT mile 1773.4
Total miles: 1252.3
Today was a super nice zero day in Klamath Falls. Cheer and I had time to work on blog posts, and after lunch, Laura took us to Grocery Outlet to resupply.
I needed to pick up my tent fly at the post office as well, but for some reason, it had been forwarded to Crater Lake. Thankfully, the post office lady was great and was able to contact a worker who was dropping stuff off there. She promised to get my box back to Klamath by 5:30ish.
I caught up with my friend Rachel on the phone, and before I knew it, it was time to pick up my package! Laura said I could use the van, so for the first time in a few months, I got to drive. It was super weird! I parked the van and went out back where the lady told me to ring the bell to get my package. After I picked it up, I went back to the van, but the key wasn't working to unlock the car. I called Laura just as a postal worker came out and pointed out that I was trying to unlock one of their tan delivery vans 😂
After dinner, we watched a baseball movie called The Perfect Game, and then had a fire outside and made s'mores. Such a fun night!
Day 112 // 20.2 miles
PCT mile 1793.6
Troy and Laura took us out for breakfast at a sweet waffle place in town, then dropped us off at the trailhead. It was so nice to stay with them!
We made our way towards Squaw Lake, our next water source. We bumped into David again which was fun! This part of the trail was pretty wooded again, but we caught a few glimpses of Mt. McLoughlin again.
At the lake, the mosquitoes were out if full force. I put on my picaridin lotion and eventually put my windbreaker on as we ate lunch. After a bit, our friends Fast Times and Orca came up! Orca had a friend from Wales named Tom who was joining her for a bit during this section.
After lunch, we hiked through the woods for most of the afternoon. I listened to my Wingfeather Saga book again and started to pick up speed for one main reason: the mosquitoes.
After Squaw Lake, the mosquitoes seemed to descend on us like none other. I literally was walking through a cloud of them and couldn't stop for a break lest I be completely eaten alive.
I made it to Christi Spring to get water and bumped into David and Scott as well. The only way to describe this spring is a mosquito breeding ground. Clouds of them were surrounding me as I filled up my water, and I had to put on my windbreaker and head net.
We kept pushing the next 8 miles up a climb, and thankfully, as we went up, the wind helped keep the mosquitoes at bay somewhat.
The sunset was lovely, and as Cheer and I set up camp, we talked about potentially trying to push for a big day tomorrow and make it all the way to Crater Lake.
Day 113 // 19.0 miles
PCT mile 1812.7
I woke up this morning with a dreaded migraine. My stomach was ready nauseated and I wasn't feeling well at all. I took some Excedrin Migraine and got extra sleep, and thankfully it let up after a few more hours of sleep. The past few years, I had started to get some seriously bad ones during my cycle. But my migraines haven't been nearly as bad since I've started the trail... I think the exercise has been good for regulating my hormones.
I got going around when I'd normally have lunch, so I knew I wouldn't make it as far today. With my satellite messenger, I let Cheer know what was going on and tried to find my groove.
I got water at a little lake ahead and headed up a pretty big climb on Devil's Peak. The views were gorgeous! It was so nice to be above the green tunnel after a good bit of time without many views.
The late start meant I didn't have too much daylight left, but I was determined to set myself up to get to Crater Lake early the next morning for my birthday. I started an Agatha Christie book based on Cheer's recommendation. I got really into it that afternoon, and as the sun sank lower, I entered a burn area. I stopped for a quick dinner, then pressed on, listening to my book.
It probably wasn't a great idea to listen to a murder mystery while hiking alone in the dark in a creepy burn area, but in a weird way it was kind of fun ;)
My headlamp started to dim, so around 19 miles in, I decided to call it a night, knowing I could get up early and make it to Crater Lake before 10am.
I put up my tent at the next campsite and settled in, although it took awhile to fall asleep with a pesky deer snapping twigs around my campsite all night.
Day 114 // 8.2.miles
PCT mile 1820.9
The sunrise this morning was beautiful this morning as I packed up, excited to celebrate my 26th birthday at Crater Lake!
There was a bit of haze in the air from a small fire south of us, but the outline of the mountains was lovely. I made it out of the burn area and to the boundary of the National Park, just as a guy named Doubleplay came behind me.
He started in March and made it through the Sierra, and he was really friendly. With only a few miles to the Mazama Village campground, we headed down towards the park together. After a little roadwalk, we reached the parking lot and he headed towards the restaurant.
I made my way towards the spot where Cheer had camped, and was stoked to see our friends, Fast Times and Orca. They all wished me a happy birthday as we discussed plans for the day.
Tony(Cool Hand) had reserved the site they were staying at, and we decided to nearo at the campground and take the trolley up to the rim of the lake for the day.
Pretty soon after, Tony himself came around the corner! I hadn't seen him since the McDonald's at Cajon Pass! It was so fun to reunite. He's such a lovable grump 😂
We hustled ourselves back over to the camp store to catch the last morning trolley up. As we approached the lake, it was so unbelievable! The deepest blue I could imagine.
I was ready for a nice birthday lunch, so we got burgers at the restaurant and then walked around some of the paved trails afterwards. What a sweet spot to celebrate a new year of life!
The restaurant porch had some nice chairs to sit out on with a great view, so we got ice cream while waiting for the last trolley down.
I picked up my resupply box when we made it back to Mazama, set up my tent at the campground, and had a great time hanging out with the crew of thruhikers that were camping there.
Cheer and I headed to the restaurant there for pizza and took a look at the camping options for the next day. The official PCT was closed due to mountain lion activity, and we had planned on taking the Rim Trail anyways for the awesome views.
We headed back to camp and said goodnight to our friends! It was a really fun birthday that I won't soon forget.
Day 115 // 26.0 miles (9.1 on the Rim Trail Alternate)
PCT mile 1856.2
Total miles: 1325.1
I enjoyed a nice morning at camp - I had a good cup of coffee and enjoyed my leftover pizza for breakfast. Being a hiker is awesome.
I started packing up, hoping to make the first shuttle of the day up to the rim trail since access via the PCT was supposedly closed off. Unfortunately for me, my watch was running a few minutes slow and I underestimated the length of the walk to the camp store. Cheer made it, but I missed the trolley by just a few minutes!
I decided to use the time I had and the store wifi to call my parents, since I hadn't gotten to talk with them on my birthday.
I chatted with my new friend "Sticks" (another Stephanie 😊) on the way up to the trail. She also skipped the Sierra and is just basically hiking as much of the trail as she can while trying to enjoy it at her own pace. I think that's pretty cool.
I set out on the Rim Trail after talking with a few tourists who noticed my huge pack. It always feels pretty awesome to tell dayhikers and tourists about the PCT.
The trail was surprisingly uncrowded once I got further from Rim Village. It was pretty up and down though, since it would often go up to the edge, then down to a road with an overlook where people were parked. The views were totally insane though!
I bumped into Doubleplay again, and we hiked together for pretty much the rest of the day.
Once we made it to the end of the Rim Alternate, we headed into a pretty flat section where I picked up the pace. It was pretty dry, but thankfully, some awesome trail angels had stocked the water caches for us.
We crushed a few more miles until we made it to a campsite with a cache where Tony and Sticks were camping. I was tempted to stay, but I knew that Cheer was camping ahead at the next stream, 6 miles further. I enjoyed a snack with the gang and said farewell.
The evening hike was gorgeous, although the first little section was spent outrunning mosquitoes. Once I got to the top of the climb though, it was epic. I sat on a breezy ridge with LTE and listened to birthday messages from my family that finally came through. It was the sweetest!
Soon, I came upon views of Diamond Lake and Mt. Thielsen in the beautiful evening light. These are the moments on the trail where I pinch myself and thank God for this glory.
I pressed on past Thielsen, into the darkening night.
I reached the stream where Cheer and I were going to meet around 10pm, and couldn't find the campsite. I knew there were a few spots just past the stream though, so I quickly set up there, devoured a quick dinner, and got some sleep.
Day 116 // 24.4 miles
PCT mile 1880.6
Total miles: 1359.5
My late night of hiking meant that I slept in later than usual this morning! Cheer had messaged me that she found the camp spot by the stream, and as I started to pack up, she came hiking by.
We decided to at least hike to the next water cache tonight, since there weren't too many good spots with water beforehand.
I went to get water before hiking out and was greeted by an amazing view of Mt. Thielsen. This spot is officially the halfway mark for us - we've made it 1325 miles!
After a few miles of uphill, I reached the official OR/WA high point of the PCT. It's a little anticlimactic, as it's at the top of a domed plateau without much of a view - but still kinda fun!
After a short break, I headed down and found Cheer again. Time for lunch! After a while, we saw our friend Rag Doll pass by. I had met her briefly in the desert, but it was nice to get to know her a little more.
I cruised down the trail, listening to some podcasts to make the time pass more quickly. Eventually, we reached a road and water cache at Windigo Pass. We both were feeling up to going a little further to a pond 2 miles uphill, so we pressed on.
We got some cool views of the peaks from up higher, and after what seemed like a lot of climbing, we made it to camp around dusk. Near the pond, the mosquitoes were starting to swarm, so we set up quickly and dove into our tents to make dinner.
Day 117 // 26.0 miles (plus 1.5 side trail to Shelter Cove)
PCT mile 1906.6
Total miles: 1385.5
This morning was so beautiful! We climbed up to a sweeping view of Mt. Thielsen and some beautiful lakes.
The mosquitoes started to worsen as we headed downhill toward Summit Lake. Cruising down the hill, the first 10 miles of the day went by super fast.
As I made it to the first campsite on the lake, I saw an older guy with dogs. I headed towards the shore to see if I could find a spot to have a snack break, and the guy got super grumpy and said, "Do you just walk through anyone's campsite?" I explained that I was just going to get water and take a break. After all, these are public lands with dispersed campsites. He continued to grumble and I didn't want to cause any trouble, so I went back towards the trail and headed to the next spot along the lake with Cheer.
Most people we meet on the trail are pretty great, but there are a few bad apples that can be jerky or inconsiderate.
Thankfully for us, the next spot along the lake had far less mosquitoes and was a perfect swimming spot! We decided to have an early lunch and go for a swim!
The lake was beautiful and clear, and the water was cold but refreshing. Warmed by the sun, we swam and floated around, just enjoying the day and the beautiful view. This is what it's all about!
Our friend Rag Doll soon joined us, and we warmed ourselves on the rocks. Hoping to make it a the way to Shelter Cove Resort tonight, we headed out with 17 more miles to hike.
I listened to another Agatha Christie book as I headed up past more small lakes towards Diamond Peak. It was super beautiful up at the top!
I passed a trail crew working on a drainage ditch and tested out their work for them as I greeted the team. I'm so thankful for all the people who love the trail and work to maintain it.
The mosquitoes kept swarming me as I headed down towards Shelter Cove - I'm definitely not going to miss that about Oregon. Eventually, Cheer and I made it to the turnoff for the resort. The side trail was about a mile and a half, and we rolled up to the entrance as it was starting to get dark.
Unfortunately, the restaurant was closed, but they had a hiker hangout tent where a few people were hanging out. Thankfully, the mosquitoes were pretty much nonexistent down here. Hooray! After a bit of conversation, we headed over across the street where we heard we could camp for free.
We took a little trail and saw some flat spots with our headlamps, so we began to set up. After a few minutes, a train horn blared, and we realized that we had set up just down the hill from some train tracks. Laughing at our ridiculous situation, we finished setting up and made dinner, ready for some rest after another long day.