Bluejay and Sunkist were facing a dilemma today. They needed to stop and purchase food because they hadn’t mailed resupply boxes to themselves at Mazama Village, as Dave and I had done.
Their best option for resupplying was to go off the trail at the next highway and then to a resort on Fish Lake. This option, however, was where they ran into a problem. Getting to the resort today would mean walking 28 miles, then either road walking or hitchhiking another two miles.
Otherwise, they could break up the distance into two days, but that would mean they'd fall behind Dave and me.
|Date||Friday, August 23, 2019|
|Weather||Mostly sunny with a high temperature in the low 70s|
|Trail Conditions||More rocks than usual, one big climb then modest ups and downs |
Being strong and adventurous hikers, they thought they could walk the full distance to the resort today, but acknowledged it was going to be a strenuous effort.
Still, the trail would be in their favor. Save for the first climb of the day, the trail would be predominantly downhill.
Sunkist and Bluejay were long gone by the time Dave and I left camp at 7 a.m. We didn’t leave this morning intending to be lackadaisical, but that’s the way our day began.
The climb up Devils Peak was more than 1,100 feet in 2.7 miles. This wasn’t extremely steep, but the trail was sometimes covered in rocks. That kind of trail always slows me down.
Devils Peak was part of a small chain of mountains. Lucifer Peak and Shale Butte were next in line. The trail traversed around the first two and only went over the summit of the last.
The elevation was high enough that we got some excellent views on this clear day.
Looking north was like seeing a replay of the last week. Far in the distance, about 61 miles away, was Diamond Peak. We passed it six days ago.
Mt. Thielsen, which we passed four days ago, was 36 miles away.
I could also see features on Crater Lake’s rim, including Llao Rock, which was 24 miles away. Union Peak, which we passed yesterday, was now 13 miles behind us.
Continuing across to Shale Butte, mountains that would be in our future could be seen to the south.
Mt. McLoughlin was 14 miles away. Before stopping tonight, the trail will take us past the base of this mountain.
A snow-covered mountain barely visible in the distance was Mt. Shasta. It was about 85 miles away in California, and I won’t be hiking past it until after I've finished hiking through the Sierra and return north to hike Northern California.
Looking east, Upper Klamath Lake was just barely in view. It is nearly 30 miles long and eight miles wide, making it the largest freshwater lake west of the Rockies.
I took my time crossing the ridge formed by the chain of mountains. I appreciated the views but also liked the cell service from there. I sent text messages to Kim and posted some photos on social media.
Later, when I arrived where Dave was taking a break, I almost walked past him without seeing him.
He told me he had been unable to get cell service. When we crossed a narrow ridge, however, he checked again and discovered he had reception, so I continued walking while he called his family.
The trail descended from the ridge and entered a burn area. Through the sparse trees, I could see Mt. McLoughlin again.
The trail would soon get much closer to the 9,495-foot dormant volcano, which is the highest mountain between The Sisters and Mt. Shasta. That makes it the most prominent mountain in this area, but there would be fewer views of it once the trail left the burn area.
This burn section was much like the first one we walked through yesterday. There was a lot of damage but also signs of new life.
The trail continued along the ridge extending from Shale Butte and went past a minor peak called Luther Mountain.
I stopped for lunch a mile or so beyond that mountain. Dave caught up to me about 25 minutes later and almost missed seeing me.
We knew we had been walking slowly this morning but were surprised anyway to discover we had only gone eight miles. That was ridiculously slow, and we knew we needed to pick up our pace if we were going to finish the day with 20 or more miles.
The trail assisted us in two ways to make up the time. The terrain became much flatter and the scenery became repetitive. For much of the rest of the way, the forest offered no distant views.
By the time I reached a spring at 4 p.m., my water bottles were completely dry. The last water source had been more than 11 miles ago.
Dave was at the spring when I arrived. I stayed after he left so I could finish drinking a full liter of water and filter enough water for tonight and tomorrow morning. There wouldn't be another water source on the trail for the next 11.4 miles.
The only view of note in the last half of the day came around 6 p.m. when Fourmile Lake could be seen through the trees.
Continuing down the uninspiring trail, I received a surprising text message from Sunkist on my Garmin InReach. She had just reached the road leading to Fish Lake.
“You’ll never guess who’s here!!!!!” her message said. “MJ!”
Sunkist told me MJ was camping tonight at the trailhead and urged us to get there. Unfortunately, I was still at least three hours away and the time had already passed 6:30 p.m.
I was disappointed I couldn’t get to the road in time to see MJ tonight but hoped to see her there in the morning.
Although I had been able to pick up the pace in the afternoon, I still felt I was walking slower than I wished. The hour was getting late and the sky was beginning to darken.
As I approached the campsite where I thought Dave had stopped, I laughed when I saw a flashing red light.
Dave had set his headlamp on a log and put it on a flashing mode as a joke because of the way we almost missed each other today.
A comment in the Guthooks trail guide app described this campsite as "mosquito hell,” and that turned out to be too accurate. I was forced to eat dinner in my tent. While doing so, I tried to forget that another comment said there had been bears in the area last year.