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PCT Week Three


07/20 to 07/26

It is taking me much longer to write about hiking the trail than it did to hike it. But reliving it is amazing!

07-20 Willamette Pass.jpg

On the morning of the 20th, we left the comforts of Shelter Cove Resort and got back on the trail. It felt good to do something after our zero day.

At Willamette Pass we had to wait for traffic, a rare inconvenience out here. On any other day the pizza truck would have looked good enough to mug, but we were full and fat from the big breakfast that we had just consumed.

07-20 Tropical Lake.jpg

Descending from Diamond Peak the day before Shelter Cove, we had hiked through an area of over 100 lakes and ponds. Pond after murky pond, lake after shallow lake had bordered the trail at every step. Upon leaving Shelter Cove and crossing Willamette Pass, we began climbing hoping to leave the lakes behind. They are beautiful, but they are breeding factories for you-know-what.

No such luck. On the other side of Willamette Pass, we entered the Cascade Lakes Area and, as our guidebook proudly pointed out, a "traipse from one pleasant forested pool to the next". We disagree fully with the pleasant part. 

07-20 Rosary Lakes.jpg

We passed the three beautiful Rosary Lakes and took pictures, but we took them literally on the run.  The Lower Rosary Lake is back dropped by the 6,384' Pulpit Rock. We saw a few tents on the lake's bug infested shore, people who had hiked in for the weekend, most probably.

We saw a bear bag that someone had suspended about five feet in the air. I hope they were more concerned about raccoons than bears. We had long ago quit trying to hang a bag. In Crater Lake National Park, where bear bags are required, we couldn't find a tree without short, stubby branches. Finding a potential tree is always much harder than it looks. We could never bring ourselves to sleep with our food as most PCT hikers seemed to be doing. Instead, we put all the food that we thought had strong odors into our one and only dry sack. We put the dry sack in our sleeping bag stuff sack. After we double or triple bagged our food, we put it in Kirk's backpack outside our tent. I was more concerned that an animal would steal our food rather than that we would be attacked for it. I couldn’t bear to think of being foodless.

07-20 Fishing.jpg

We climbed past Waldo Lake, the second biggest freshwater lake in Oregon at almost 10 square miles, the first being Upper Klamath which is 25 miles long and 8 miles wide. When we hiked by Upper Klamath, we thought at first that we were looking at a bay, although we knew that didn’t make sense. We stayed at the much smaller and heavily used Charlton Lake the first night out from Shelter Cove. 

When we arrived, a guy on a mountain bike rode by. He stopped and explained that he didn't know where he was, or where he was supposed to be and that his wife would be worried. We showed him our paper map, but he just stared blankly at it before he rode away, in the opposite direction that we thought he should go. Hopefully, he found his way out before dark.

Kirk had carried a hook and some fishing line, but he wasn't able to try very often, due to (you guessed it) the mosquitoes. At Charlton the bugs were almost normal in quantity, so Kirk put his line in the water. No takers. 

07-21 Charleton Lake.jpg

Dale MCDuffie, the guy we met at Shelter Cove, stayed with us at Charlton Lake and then the next night at Mac Lake. But we wanted to go to Elk Lake, and he wanted to press on. At Mac Lake, we went our separate ways. We didn't say goodbye. There was always the possibility that we would catch up and we probably would have done, but after we picked up Misha, we slowed down a lot. When Kirk and I finished our hike, we watched Dale, on his blog, go through Washington and finally finish the PCT at the northern terminus in Canada. 

07-12 Postal Socks.jpg

Dale (a.k.a. Duck because of the way he waddled across the snow) found out that we didn't have trail names, so he dubbed us both. A trail name is a nickname that says something about the hiker's personality or circumstances. Some people give themselves trail names before they hit the trail, but that seems like cheating to me.

Kirk had brought a pair of postal socks to wear at bedtime, but during the height of his blister discomfort, he began to wear them regularly for hiking because they weren’t as thick as his hiking socks. We were laughing about it with Dale, who then named Kirk "Postal."

When we were at Shelter Cove, I told Dale how I would shout at all the deer we saw, "Stay away from humans. They are evil and just want to hurt you!" Dale called me "Doe." 

On our second night on the trail, when we stopped at Callahan’s Mountain Lodge, the staff asked for our trail names. They seemed shocked when we didn’t have one. Nicknames may seem awkward off the trail, but after a while on the trail, real names seem awkward.

07-11 Devil's Peak Sandals.jpg

Kirk and I were hiking fast now. When we had started, seventeen days before, we were hiking about 2 mph. By the time we reached Mac Lake, we were hiking about 3 mph. We felt strong and awesome.

My feet hurt a lot. I had been able to put my shoes back on just after Crater Lake, but I had hiked in my sandals for seven days due to the blistering mystery rash on my ankles. The sandals were lightweight, nothing supportive about them. They were meant to serve as camp shoes and water shoes for river crossings. They were not meant to hike almost 90 miles.

At night, the soles of my feet came alive with shooting pain. Usually Ibuprofen knocked it down enough to sleep. I am writing this over a month after our return and the bottoms of my feet still hurt when I step on them in the morning. It is still difficult to walk on hard surfaces for long distances and once in a while, I still get some sharp pain, but they don't throb when I at night. The nerve damage was severe, but temporary. 

07-21 Mosquito Lunch.jpg

We had head nets now. This meant that we were not pulling as many dead mosquito carcasses out of our hair at night, but we still couldn't take breaks. At Stormy Lake, we were determined to take a lunch. The mosquitoes love Kirk's O neg, so when we stopped, we wrapped him up in mosquito netting. This did not deter the attacks. They just crawled all over the netting, biting right through it, swarming and trying to find ways under. Our lunch lasted longer than any of the breaks we had taken since Fish Lake. We stayed about eleven minutes.

I have been very polite up until this point, and I haven't written a thing about what it is like to pee in a cloud of biting bugs, especially for a chick. One of the only defenses against the coordinated attacks is dancing and leaping around like an amplified Dogberry. This is hard to do from a squat. It takes a lot of self-discipline to stay still long enough to finish the task while the mosquitoes are finding new places to bite. It is quite the same thing for times when a shovel is required. I will leave the details to your imagination.

07-22 Flowers on the Shore.jpg

There were so many lakes, we lost track of the names. As much as we wanted out of them, we couldn't help but admire the beauty as we shot by.

"Here's a good one!" Kirk would call back to me.

I would whip out my phone as I came up to it and pause for one to three seconds, no more. Thank you, iPhone, for your 12-megapixel, high dynamic range and optical image stabilization, good for taking beautiful images while on the run. 

07-22 Elk Lake.jpg

We arrived at Elk Lake Resort on the morning of July 22nd. We felt a little bit guilty, because we had just taken a zero three days before. But we wanted a bug reprieve and a shower. The resorts must spray because they are always mosquito-free.

07-22 Campsites for Hikers.jpg

The staff of Elk Lake Resort were by far the nicest. They had an old, but functioning restroom cabin behind the camp store. The price for a shower was $5 for 25 minutes! Not $4 for 2 minutes, which is usually the going rate. 

One thing that is consistent between all the resorts on the trail is that the PCT hiker sites are a joke. Find the most inconvenient, unusable piece of land on the resort and that is the hiker tent area. At Shelter Cove, it is almost impossible to find, it is shoved so far back off the beaten path. Shelter Cove (the place where the cashier couldn't find our resupply package and then seemed to hate me for having my UPS delivery confirmation), had charged us $10 each per night that we stayed for our one tent site in the back of nowhere. Laundry and showers were in addition to that. The resorts make a fortune off PCT hikers who pour in to eat, drink and shop. Kirk and I stayed for a day and a half and spent over $300. That didn't include our $40 tent site, which wasn't a site at all, but more of a communal patch of weeds set back in the trees, without designated sites. The smart hikers banded together to rent a 'real' site with a fire ring and a picnic table. 

At Elk Lake, the sites were designated and more centrally located, but they consisted of an almost flat spot in a lodgepole pine forest. We could barely squeeze in. Granted, we had a bigger tent than most, but the site was still ridiculously tight.

07-22 Kayak 1.jpg

After we set up our tent, we showered and then we ate. We chose to eat on the patio, because we didn’t want to be inside. We watched crowds of people moving around. We ate ice cream and stared at the water. Elk Lake is nestled between Mt. Bachelor and South Sister, so it is something to look at. But finally, we rented a double kayak and hit the lake.

07-22 Marea on the Shore.jpg

We were laughing about taking the day off to do upper body workout. Not that our upper bodies didn't get worked out from carrying our packs and hauling ourselves up hills by our trekking poles. 

07-23 Mt Bachelor.jpg

We stayed half a day and slept in our tiny camping spot. It was worth the detour down to the lake and the climb back up the next day. After we left Elk Lake, we had a good view of Mt. Bachelor from Koosah Mountain. Our guidebook pointed out that Koosah is the 16,524th highest mountain in the United Sates. I am hoping this is a facetious factoid.

We had been told that after Elk Lake, we would leave the mosquito infestation behind. Instead, it seemed to intensify, especially in the Sisters Mirror Lake area. 

According to an article that I read on the Statesman website, " Oregon’s High Cascades, the “snow-melt” mosquitoes (genus Aedes) can pack their entire life cycle into as little as 14 days..."


Then they die.

Timing is everything.

07-23 Plateau.jpg

We walked out of the trees and onto Wickiup Plain with its glorious vista of South Sister and Middle Sister peaking over her shoulder. Besides the breathtaking expanse in front of us, we lost genus Aedes for a while.

07-23 Butterflies.jpg

Wickiup is made from volcanic material which means it is porous. The plants are sparse, the flowers that do bloom, create a stark contrast in the muted landscape. Numerous species of butterflies flitted about.

We took our time, wandering across the plain, taking pictures. My eyes kept returning to South Sister and her rounded, red top. For at least two years, we had talked about climbing South Sister. Now in her shadow, we committed again to returning for the climb. It is non-technical, but a difficult steep climb ascending 4900 feet in 5.5 miles through loose debris. That is 890 feet per mile. Looking forward to it!

07-23 Moraine.jpg

The moraine on the southwest side of South Sister.

07-23 Grove.jpg

We left the plain and began to climb. We had noticed that starting on the north side of Crater Lake, the trees seemed to grow in multiples, in tight groves rather than singles. 

07-23 Lupine.jpg

We hiked into a beautiful green meadow, where lupine grew as tall as I am, the opposite of the desert-like pumice of Wickiup Plain.

We saw a hiker cooking beside the trail.

"That smells good!" I called.

"It's just ramen," he said shrugging.

Well yes! Ramen was a staple of our hike and I couldn't wait to stop for the night so I could make some for myself. Together with some re-hydrated vegetables, we had a feast. 

07-23 Meadow.jpg

I want to pause here a moment in this lovely meadow where we stopped to soak our feet in Mesa Creek with the South Sister moraine in the background. I want to say a word or two about our day-to-day schedule.

We would wake up each morning at about 5:30 and I would pretend to sleep so that Kirk wouldn’t make me get up in the cold. But he didn’t fall for it. He was always anxious to get on the trail. We first had to unload our food so that we could eat and pack.

I struggled to quickly do something, anything, with my hair, to sort of smooth it and get it under control so that it wouldn't get in my face. Not burdened by this problem, Kirk would go outside, top off our water and do what he could while I packed the sleeping bags, clothes and supplies. We could take down and pack the tent in a matter of minutes.

Then we hiked. The PCT stretched ever onward in front of us and so, whether we felt like it or not, we hiked. We usually broke camp between 7:00-7:30 and tried to see how far we could get by 9:30. Then we would share a Cliff bar. We hiked with no breaks until lunch when Kirk would eat a packet of tuna and some crackers and I ate crackers and candy.

After lunch we hiked for a few more hours and then shared another Cliff bar and some Bolt energy chews. The chews really helped give us a boost and we carried them despite their weight.


When we made our goal, we set up camp and tried to wash up. We had small wash clothes made from shammy-like material. It helped a lot to get some of the grime off. At this point, we were just filthy all the time. But washing helped to alleviate the feeling of marinating in the sleeping bag.

We made food choosing from our meager selection based on the water situation. If we were near water, we could make whatever we wanted. If not, we ate prepackaged meals which used minimal water and required less clean up. Washing dishes is a long and painstaking process. I had a quarter of a kitchen sponge and a small squeeze bottle of biodegradable soap. I poured cold water back and forth between the dishes until they seemed...cleaner. We buried our gray water to keep from attracting animals.  Then we studied and made modifications to our next day's itinerary if needed. This was often needed since we always tried to get to water. I journaled as much as I could and then we read for ten minutes and went to sleep. 

​My point is this...We were busy. We didn't have downtime. It was not relaxing. Sometimes, we were so hurt and broken that we could barely force ourselves to do our chores. We cooked with an arm reaching through the netting on our tent method, but we had to go out into bugdom to do dishes and brush our teeth.   

07-23 James Trail.jpg

Our guidebook was published in 2016 and so we hiked into many burned areas that we weren't expecting. According to an article on Wikipedia, in 2017 alone, Oregon experienced 1,069 forest fires, with at least 779 started by people, devastating 451,863 acres of Oregon landscape. It drives me crazy when people try to say this is okay and that forest fires are good. Only 30% of the fires in 2017 occurred at the whim of Mother Nature, while 70% started due to negligence!  2017 was the year of Eagle Creek Fire, started when a kid lit and dropped a firecracker into Eagle Creek Canyon. To us, as we hiked the PCT, it seemed that most of central Oregon had burned. 

The Separation Fire, through which we walked, had burned in 2017, blackening 18,086 acres While most of the fires of that year were started by people, lightening caused this one.  

07-23 South Sister Framed.jpg

It amazes me how some of the forest will burn while other parts remain green. Here on the west side of South Sister, we saw dead trees, surrounded by undamaged forest. We would walk for miles through devastation and then into a patch of lush green, undamaged trees, just to come out the other side and walk back into the black fire zone. One could see how unpredictable the fire was leaping around as it did. 

07-23 Reese Lake.jpg

We pitched our tent above Reese Lake, a gem of a pond set in stone that seemed almost landscaped with flat rocks on which to sit and climb. The tent site was small, but we made do. We watched the weather change from sun to clouds and back again all evening. We hadn't yet experienced rain, but we prepared for it, just in case, which included putting rain covers on our packs to keep the contents dry. 

A group of senior citizens were camped by the pond when we arrived. Unfortunately, a couple of old guys were swimming in their skivvies, while the rest scampered about in bright clothes and puffy jackets. We wondered how far they had come and how far they were going. I hope that I am still hiking in twenty years. 

I have a 15° F sleeping bag, but that night, I froze and woke up shaking. I am not saying that the temperature dipped in the teens, but I was colder than I had been in the snow at Mt. Thielsen. 

07-24 Frost.jpg

We woke up to frost. Frost in July!

07-24 Middle Sister.jpg

I had to wear gloves for the first part of our day as we moved away from South Sister and around Middle Sister. After Reese Lake, the mosquito population dropped to normal and stayed that way for the rest of the hike! Finally, that long, torturous saga had ended. 

07-24 Obsidian Sign.jpg

We didn't know about the Obsidian Limited Area, and felt a little nervous going in. The forest service protects this unique area by limiting the number of hikers per day. We didn't have a permit. Our app and our book claimed that, as long-distance hikers, we could walk through without a permit if we stayed on the trail.

07-24 Obsidian Tree.jpg

When we first entered the limited area, we saw a tree growing out of a shale/obsidian cliff. As we continued on, we began to see tiny, glittering specks of obsidian mixed into the dirt of the trail.

07-24 Obsidian ROck.jpg

Rocks striated with obsidian.

07-24 Onsidian Field.jpg

Soon enough, the ground was laid with obsidian and we were surrounded by the glittering black rock. It crunched under our feet and rose high above our heads. 

07-24 Mountainscape.jpg

After we tore ourselves away, we climbed a bluff where our future lined up before us. Mt. Washington, Three Fingered Jack, Mt. Jefferson and in the far distance, our first glimpse of Mt. Hood! Seeing Hood, even far off, we felt triumphant. We had come so far, and we could see home!


We also saw the landscape's extreme change. Forest at our backs, lava in front. The flow swept down the valley as far as we could see to the west. We would be crossing this massive flow as we continued north.

07-24 Big Lava Boulder.jpg

In the beginning, we had fun. The lava and the barren landscape were surreal, like another planet. 

07-24 Climbing Lava.jpg

At times, the PCT makes huge sweeping detours around obstacles, such as the 150 plus miles of east-west trail in California to navigate around Mt. Shasta. But sometimes, I think the PCT designers added miles of difficulty on purpose. Maybe just to mess with us. Sometimes, the trail would climb a viewless ridge and drop back down on the same side, when clearly, it could have continued climbing at all.

07-24 Lava Switchbacks.jpg

In my opinion, the trail meandered through the lava when it could have taken a more direct route that would have been easier on the feet. The trail went east to climb the flow up steep short switchbacks and then it veered back west dropping down parallel with the start. It was a pointless, waste of energy.

07-24 North Sister.jpg

Perhaps designers wanted us to have this brief view of North Sister.

07-24 Finger Rock.jpg

We followed the trail back to the west where we had a view for miles. We could see trees in our immediate future.

07-24 Laying in the Snow.jpg

Thinking that we were done with lava for the day (little did we know), Kirk lay down to take a nap on the snowpack below the oddly barren, black cinder expanse of Collier Cone. 

07-24 Smooth.jpg

We did leave the lava behind for a few miles as we reentered the forest and then traversed a green meadow where we perched on a rock and ate lunch. But after lunch we dropped back down to the flow and began a long, slow climb following the PCT in a clockwise movement around 6,737' Yapoah Crater. Its smooth, bald surface loomed above us and the loose cinders collapsed under every step making us fight to gain ground. 

07-24 Lava Bed.jpg

We climbed down the east side of the Yapoah and looked back at the vast flow that the volcano had spewed into the valley. We spent the rest of our day hiking in and out of it as we made our way to Lava Camp Lake at McKenzie Pass. We passed many fresh, clean day hikers and wondered where they were coming from. 

At Lava Camp Lake, we found a spot with a picnic table. My feet throbbed from the long trip over the lava. They had been hurting for days. I would wake up in the morning and feel better, but after twelve miles or so, I was in such pain that I didn't know how I could go on, although I obviously did. Every night, as I lay in my sleeping bag waiting for sleep, it felt like someone had taken a sledgehammer to my soles. After the day in the lava, I could barely step down.

We were low on food because we had one day left before Big Lake and resupply. (Ian and Kinley were bringing our box to us and more important to me, they were bringing Misha!)  

Kirk took our water filter and bottles and headed to the lake while I arranged our food on the picnic table.

As we always did the night before resupply, we planned to eat everything we had other than our breakfast and lunch for the next day. We had coffee and a baggie of cappuccino mix for the mornings, but we rarely took the time. As I waited for Kirk, I made coffee and added all the cappuccino mix to make it sweet and creamy.

Kirk returned with the water.

"You will never guess what just happened!" he said. "I was trying to filter water and this man and woman with their three-year-old kid were swimming in the lake right across from me.


The kid started crying, 'Daddy, I have to pee!'

The dad said, 'Just go. It's okay. Just go.'

There I was standing on the shore, holding my water filter over my head as the lake water dripped into our bottles and the dad was trying to make his kid go pee in the lake! The mom looked over at me, maybe to see if I heard, I don't know, as the dad kept telling the kid to go. Fortunately, the kid got out of the water on his own, but I couldn't believe it!"

I still have no words.

07-25 McKenzie Pass.jpg

The morning of the 25th, we left Lava Lake Camp and walked on the road. We wanted to go to the Dee Wright Observatory which was east of the trail. In taking the road, we missed 1.1 miles of the PCT and walked 0.2 miles less. Purists everywhere will now say that we have not hiked the complete Oregon PCT. Purists literally connect their steps on the PCT, which means that each time they get off, the go back on at the exact point. even if it means backtracking. I guess in the future, we will have to return and "finish." LOL.

07-25 Dee Wright.jpg

The Dee Wright Observatory at McKenzie Pass is a structure made from the lava rocks upon which it sits, the flow that was once inside of Belknap and Little Belknap Craters. The medieval-like structure is located at the highest point on the pass with a view of almost twenty mountains. Inside, holes like arrow slits were cut into the walls, each one aligned with a mountain.  

07-25 Dee Wright Roof.jpg

On top of the observatory is a mountain finder. The names of the peaks are embossed in the brass plate on top and point toward their namesakes: Mt. Washington, Jefferson and Hood to the north, Middle and South Sister to the south as well as numerous lesser peaks.

This early in the morning, we had the place to ourselves. We climbed to the roof to eat our breakfast of a shared protein bar and a Carnation shake. 

07-25 Crumbly Lava.jpg

0.2 miles west on the road we rejoined the PCT. We walked carefully on the unforgiving black sea, to avoid tripping and/or breaking a pole or an ankle. It was wearing to pay such close attention to each step, but as vigilant as we were, we still twisted our ankles a couple times, and caught the tip of our poles. I had fallen on the lava in southern Oregon and it had torn open my skin. (I still have the scars.)  

I missed Misha, my Beagle. He had been my constant hiking companion for seven years. The lava fields were the main reason that we had left him at home for three weeks. We didn't see any dogs as we crossed, but further south on the trail, we had seen two dogs who had gone over the lava with their people. One, an old yellow lab, was still wearing shoes as she climbed slowly up the ridge and away from the beds. Both dogs appeared unscathed by the experience, but when I looked at the people, I couldn't help but wonder,

"What were you thinking!?"  

The owner of the lab told us that he had brought her to the beds the year before. "She refused to walk on them, " he said with wonder. "She is usually so compliant." 

I was looking at the lab's legs as he talked. Dogs legs are so thin. Even if they were wearing boots to protect their paws from injury, one slip into a crevice could break a leg. I remembered crossing the Newton River on Mount Hood. We were on a log jam and Misha's foot slipped down between two logs. Hovered over the raging water, Misha wrapped his front arms around the log under him. When he began to panic, I had to seize the handle on his pack and pull him straight up to free his leg. I was sure that his leg would snap. It didn't. He walked away with a scrape the size of a dime on his thigh.  

But instead of crossing a river and moving on, the lava would be miles of potential broken legs. I sometimes feel guilty for exposing Misha to the hazards of the trail, even though he loves hiking. He is adamantly opposed to wearing shoes, but even if he had liked them, I wouldn't have risked this.

07-25 Tree Islands.jpg

The trail moved west, parallel to the highway across the lava, and then dropped down onto an island of trees. This was where the Mount Washington Wilderness started. We felt relieved to be on a flat, sandy path, but shortly we returned to the unforgiving landscape. We climbed a gentle rise which should have been easy, except for the rough terrain. 

We passed a group of late teens wearing Outward Bound t-shirts. Outward Bound is an organization that provides adventures for teens and adults who might not have the opportunity otherwise. One of the exuberant adults told us that they were on a 30-day adventure and had bivouacked on one of the nearby tree islands. He and the group of kids were enthusiastic, until we encountered a few stragglers who looked as if they would rather be having their knee drained.

07-25 Belknap Sign.jpg

Little Belknap is a shield volcano with a red cinder top about 2.2 miles from the highway. When we got to the spur trail, the desire to explore the volcano won out over our desire to get the heck out of there. We dropped our packs to take the 0.2 side trail. We climbed to the top expecting to find a crater there. We didn't.

07-25 Belknap Crater.jpg

We circled to the north and found the gaping mouth of the vent with lava arches soaring above us. The vent was dark and deep. I imagined it reaching into the center of the earth. As we hiked back to the PCT, we saw large lava tubes, some with collapsed ceilings. I ducted into one, but I could feel the claustrophobia rise immediately.

We hiked to the next tree island and gratefully, we left the lava behind. Or so we thought, once again. Soon we were walking through a burned forest atop more lava. We cannot tell you how disheartening it was when we realized that we were not done with it. Exhausted from our trek and discouraged we snaked our way over deadfalls descending the seemingly endless eroded, rough trail. At last, we reached the bottom at the edge of the flow where a wall of lava ran west. I knew that I should take a picture and when we had climbed short distance away from it, we stopped for a break looking down on the wall. We still didn't get a photo. At that point, we just didn't care. 

07-25 Mt Washington.jpg

I have always been uncertain of the location and appearance of Mt. Washington, just knowing that it was "down there somewhere" and thinking, in error as it turned out, that it would have an appearance like Mt. Hood or Mt. Jefferson. I sometimes think about their gender. Such as when we were hiking around Mt. Hood, I felt an intense feminine energy radiating from her. But Mt. Washington was all masculine with its phallic spire and harsh eroded sides. 

07-25 300 Mile Photo.jpg

In the meadow below Washington we hit our 300-mile mark. We had saved a Snickers bar to celebrate the achievement and we sat down on a rock and devoured it. We had been arguing a lot. Two days of struggling in exhausted pain across the lava, made us both a lot irritable. We put on big, fake smiles and took our 300-mile selfie and then went back to fighting as we made our way around the mountain and descended to Big Lake. 

07-25 Big Lake SIgn.jpg

Big Lake Youth Camp is a Seventh Day Adventist owned summer camp for kids ages 7-17. They offer activities like rock climbing, horseback riding, golf, Fly-fishing, mountain biking and back country adventures. They have such a variety that it makes me want to go. They even offer a camp for children who have recently suffered the loss of a loved one. About sixteen years ago, my son Codi went off to adventure camp at Big Lake. I put him on the bus and tried not to cry when it pulled out. It was cool to see it for myself. 

Beyond everything that Big Lake offers kids, they have a building exclusively dedicated for use by PCT hikers. The building has two full bathrooms, laundry, a kitchen/living room area with a sink, long tables, soft chairs, free coffee, a microwave and a refrigerator with free Red Bulls. There are tents sites down by the lake, just outside of the camp, and hikers are invited to eat the camp's meals, and all of this is free. I saw a lot of buzz about this on the hiker app Guthook encouraging hikers to donate so that Big Lake could continue providing such an awesome facility. We absolutely agree.

07-25 Misha in Crate.jpg

I paced up and down the road waiting for Ian and Kinley to arrive with Misha. I walked away from the camp because I knew that Misha's greeting would reverberate around the lake. When they finally pulled up and I opened the crate...

07-25 Misha Leaping.jpg

…Misha and I had our reunion complete with leaping, baying and kisses. After the initial greeting, Misha would have nothing to do with me. He punished me for days for leaving him, ignoring me and hanging out with Kirk. I kept pointing out to him how I was the one who did everything for him. Maybe it was my logic that made him finally forgive me. One day, he just turned to me and gave me a cuddle and we were in love once again.

07-25 Resupply.jpg

Kirk was most pleased with the resupply box. The kids brought us real potato chips! They brought Cokes and candy, toilet paper, ramen, a trekking pole to replace one that Kirk broke in the lava, a long sleeved, lightweight shirt for Kirk, Deet, clean clothes for us to swamp out, stove fuel, wipes and so many other necessary goodies. We sent stuff back with them that we didn't need. It was so good to see them!

07-25 Sunset Lake.jpg

Big Lake is 225 acres of a gorgeous water body! But sadly, the hiker tent sites, just outside of the camp, burned in the 2003 B&B Complex Fire that destroyed 90,000 acres between Mt. Washington and Mt. Jefferson. The trees that remained were skeletal and debris littered the ground in and around thick underbrush that returned since the devastation. Seeing how close the fire got to the structures that make up the camp, I am convinced that a miracle saved it from burning to the ground. 

The one downside to the camp is that dogs were not allowed in the camp except for a couple dogs who lived there permanently. We had planned to take a zero day, but instead we decided to move on in the morning.

What draws us into the desert is the search for something intimate in the remote.

Edward Abbey

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