PCT 2019: Day 81, Walupt Lake Trail Junction to Killen Creek

Greet the morning air with song

Walupt Lake’s name is said to come from a legend of the Yakama tribe. Actually, there appears to be more than one legend for the lake and I’m not sure which one is the original.

The Guthooks trail guide says the lake is named for a legendary pack of wild dogs that lived in the lake and attacked anyone who would turn their back to the lake.

Another story says a Yakama hunter spent several days chasing a mighty deer until it led him to the lake. He saw the deer jump in, swim around the lake, then disappear. As the story goes, hunters since then will sometimes see the great deer swimming in the lake.

I didn’t camp at the lake, but a pond nearby. And though I wasn’t attacked by wild dogs and I didn’t see a mighty deer swimming, mighty animals were nearby.

DateFriday, July 26, 2019
WeatherClear sky, warming to the upper 70s
Trail ConditionsMostly smooth trail, no steep climbs or descents
Today's Miles20.3
Trip Miles1144.8

I first knew they were nearby when I was awakened in the middle of the night by their full-throated hollering that echoed from the other side of the pond. The noisy animals weren’t swimming deer or vicious dogs. They were elk, and they carried on with their bugling for about an hour before quieting down.

I woke up again when they started bugling at dawn.

By the time I was dressed and crawled out of my tent, they had finished their second chorus and were leaving the shore of the pond. I was unable to get a photo of them before they left.

I said goodbye to Bird as I left the campsite at 6:45 a.m., but I knew it wouldn’t be long before I saw him again. He was a fast hiker and I knew he would soon catch up and pass me.

That happened about 30 minutes later.

For the next ten miles, the trail was filled with mosquitoes. There were so many of them hovering around me I had to put on my bug net. This was the first time bugs were so bad I needed to wear the net while walking.

The trail wasn’t difficult and I didn’t have trouble walking. Still, I was not feeling well.

I couldn’t figure out why I was ailing. It was a vague, achy/nauseous/sluggish a sort of feeling. It didn’t seem to be related to a lack of calories, so I didn't know how to treat it.

Maybe this was what the Yakama meant by being attacked by wild dogs?

My ailment also wasn't bad enough to make me want to stop, which was just as well with so many mosquitoes around. It would not have been a good time to take a break.

There were several ponds near the trail in this ten-mile path of mosquitoes. They were the obvious source of what buzzed around me.

I finally decided to stop at 11 a.m. to take a break and eat my second breakfast with coffee. I also took some ibuprofen and Pepto-Bismol.

The break helped only a little, so I continued on through the mosquito horde.

By the time I reached a marker indicating I had walked 400 miles since leaving the Canadian border, I was beginning to feel a little better. I was also past the worst of the mosquitoes.

The trail flattened out, and that was probably also a reason why I was feeling better.

At 2:30 p.m. I came to a long pile of rocks stacked 20 to 30 feet high next to the trail. The trail followed at the edge of these rocks for about a half mile. The wall was so large it looked as if it had been pushed in place for a dam or other large construction project.

These were no ordinary boulders, however. They were part of a large lava bed. The trail ran along the edge of the bed where the hot magma had stopped flowing as it cooled and became basalt.

The lava had flowed from one of Mt. Adam’s more recent eruptions, though by recent I mean roughly 3,000 years ago.

In a few spots where the line of rocks dipped a little, I caught glimpses of Mt. Adams. This was the first time I saw the mountain today and hadn’t realized until now I was getting so close to it.

A small pool fed by a spring was located near the end of where the trail followed the lava bed. Not surprisingly, this was called Lava Spring. The water flowing from it was clear and very cold.

I sat on a rock there for a long time, drinking water, eating a snack, and just relaxing.

Before long, a man named SOBO Hobo arrived. He was part of a volunteer trail maintenance crew. Other members of the crew soon followed. SOBO Hobo stayed to chat, but most of the others only stopped long enough to refill their water bottles from the spring.

A couple hikers also stopped while I was there, including Bogwitch. After a break of about an hour I was ready to leave and I was feeling back to my regular self.

Just then, Dave showed up. I was startled to see him because I thought for sure he was well ahead of me. He told me that he had stopped last night a couple miles before where I camped.

We agreed to stop and camp tonight at Killen Creek.

Just beyond the spring was a small stream. A short distance farther was Muddy Fork, which was fed by the first stream. Both were murky brown with silt runoff from the lava bed.

Seeing this water made me glad for the spring where I stopped because I wouldn’t have wanted this to be my only source for drinking water until I reached Killen Creek.

The trail the rest of the way remained easy and smooth. I only had 5.1 miles to go from the spring to the campsite and I made good time.

Along the way, there were more brief views of Mt. Adams.

Dave and I could not have picked in a more scenic spot for camping tonight. It was located in a clump of trees next to a meadow, with an up-close view of Mt. Adams.

Killen Creek ran through the meadow, with a waterfall and small pool at one end. When I arrived, a hiker named Muffy Davis was already there, as was a hiker from Taiwan who didn’t know English well.

A few minutes later, Dave and Bogwitch arrived, followed by Carrot Quinn. I had not met Carrot before, but I knew who she was. Reading her book, Thru-hiking Will Break Your Heart, was one of the reasons I had wanted to hike the PCT.

I had hoped to tell her that, but she seemed to be in a bad mood and may have been quarreling with Muffy. She soon retreated to her tent and I never got the chance.

Dave and I walked over the pool by the waterfall to soak our feet before dinner. I found the water so extremely cold I couldn’t keep my feet in for long, but he didn’t seem to mind it.

I had to fight today through an ailment of indeterminate origin, but overall it was a good day, especially in the way it finished in a peaceful setting.

Keep on dancing through to daylight
Greet the morning air with song
No one's noticed but the band's all packed and gone
Was it ever here at all?
But they kept on dancing

Come on children, come on children
Come on clap your hands

Well the cool breeze came on Tuesday
And the corn's a bumper crop
And the fields are full of dancing
Full of singing and romancing
The music never stopped

From "The Music Never Stopped” by John Barlow and Bob Weir (Grateful Dead)

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