I described yesterday afternoon's scenery as “uninspiring” and “repetitive,” but that didn’t make the day boring.
To be honest, a few stretches of the trail might be called dull, yet something noteworthy is bound to happen to make the day memorable.
Today was another such day. Where the trail lacked dramatic views, it made up for that with several surprises. I had unexpected encounters with other hikers and nature. There was also a disappointment.
|Date||Saturday, August 24, 2019|
|Weather||Clear sky with a high temperature in the mid 70s|
|Trail Conditions||Small ups and downs, some sections of volcanic rock and gravel |
When Dave and I left camp this morning, I was looking forward to seeing MJ. Until Sunkist texted me yesterday about seeing her, I hadn’t realized she was in Oregon.
All I knew was what MJ told me when I saw her at Trout Lake. She was driving around the trail to hike and be a trail angel, but I presumed she was still in Washington.
Before we reached Oregon Highway 140, where Sunkist had told me MJ was camped, Dave and I stopped at a creek to filter water. We didn't want to miss this stop. The last time we stopped for water was yesterday, more than 11 miles back. The next possibility to get water would be more than 10 miles away.
The road was only a tenth of a mile away past the creek, so I kept an eye out for MJ. I didn’t want to miss seeing her.
Then I saw a hiker walking toward me, but it wasn’t MJ. Nevertheless, it was a surprisingly familiar face.
It was Sunny Hedgehog, the German hiker I met on the AT. I didn’t know he was hiking the PCT this year and I don’t think he knew I was.
Truthfully, it was difficult to know what he thought because his English wasn’t any better than it was three years ago. We tried to have a conversation, but it involved mostly nodding heads and smiles.
After our reunion, we wished each other well and continued our separate directions. I then resumed my search for MJ. Sadly, I never found her.
After crossing the road, I continued down the trail, which soon made a sudden change in terrain. It cut through a section of large lava rocks.
This section appeared to have required a remarkable amount of effort to be constructed. Large boulders had to be moved and gravel was brought in to create a smooth footpath.
After leaving the lava rocks, the trail passed Brown Mountain. This was a smaller volcano, but its peak was treeless like taller mountains.
I had walked a couple of miles south of the highway when I received another text message from Sunkist. She said she was at the highway with MJ and wondered where I was.
Messages sent from Garmin are sometimes delayed. I didn’t receive this one until nearly an hour after Sunkist sent it. Based on the time she sent it, it appeared that she, Bluejay, and MJ arrived at the road about 15 minutes after Dave and I left.
In fact, only a few minutes after I received Sunkist's message, she and Bluejay caught up to me.
Two other hikers were also headed our way and passed me. Pebbles and Bam Bam had stayed at Fish Lake Resort last night, as did Bluejay and Sunkist.
I planned to stop for lunch at South Brown Mountain Shelter because I knew a water spigot was located there. This was the first chance to refill water bottles since this morning at the creek by the highway.
When I arrived at the short side trail leading to the shelter, I noticed a mileage sign. Looking at the distance from the Mexican and Canadian borders, I realized that one-third of the trail was north of here and two-thirds were south of here.
Dave, Sunkist, Bluejay, Bam Bam, and Pebbles were all at the small cabin when I arrived. I was also surprised to see Tasty Fairy, whom I had not seen in several weeks.
The water spigot wasn’t just an attraction for hikers, however. Bees swarmed around as I pumped water from it. I was able to avoid getting stung while refilling my water bottles, but a short time later, a bee stung me in one of my fingers.
Unlike the time I was stung on the arm while hiking the AT, this sting hurt a lot more. And because of where I was stung, I knew the pain would persist for some time.
The trail became less interesting during the last half of the afternoon because it was densely wooded.
Then finally, some views opened up in the last 1.5 miles. Far off in the distance, I could see Mt. Shasta.
When I arrived at the campsite, Dave wasn’t there. He had decided to keep going to add a few more miles. He had told us earlier he was planning to meet up tomorrow with a trail angel who had reached out to him. Adding a few extra miles tonight would shorten the time to get there tomorrow.
We camped near a side trail to a spring. The easy access to water made this a good spot for camping, but it also made it a popular spot. Several NOBO hikers stopped here to get water, though most didn't stay overnight.
My finger was still hurting from the bee sting this afternoon. Thankfully, a couple of ibuprofen eased the pain.