PCT 2019: Day 96, Tentsite at Mile 2029.9 to Tentsite at Mile 2008.8

I fight authority, authority always wins

The rain that fell last night quit after midnight and no more rain followed. The extra patching I had done on my tent the last few weeks seemed to help because not much water leaked inside.

After the rain cleared there was a noticeable change in temperature. It dropped lower than we’ve been used to lately.

Later, I learned that we only caught the outer edge of a storm. Hikers north of us, including Dave, were hammered by a severe thunderstorm when we only got a couple of light showers.

DateSaturday, August 10, 2019
WeatherVariable cloudiness with a brief morning shower, cooler with a high temperature in the upper 50s
Trail ConditionsSometimes rocky trail with moderate ups and downs
Today's Miles21.1
Trip Miles1380.8

One thing I have appreciated about hiking in the west, compared to the east, is how quickly the ground, trees, and my gear dry following a rain shower. Or at least that’s normally the case. My tent didn't dry quickly this morning before I packed it. And though I didn’t have many leaks, my quilt felt damp.

As I began hiking at 7 a.m., I hoped the sun would shine enough so I could stop and dry out my gear.

After walking less than an hour I reached Milk Creek. The creekbed showed signs of severe flooding, perhaps recently, because dead trees were tangled among the rocks. The creekbed was much wider than the stream with many signs of erosion. Vegetation had been stripped clean from the sides of the creek’s high banks.

The way across the stream was over a downed tree. This made a slightly unstable bridge, but was not as difficult to cross as I first expected it would be.

As I walked across the tree, I thought I saw a large boulder on the other side of the creek. After I safely made it across, I discovered this wasn't a rock at all, but was a large clump of snow covered in dirt.

Not far from the creek, the trail passed a sign that warned of restricted camping areas ahead. The PCT only passed along the outer boundary of the first two restricted areas, then went through a third.

These are intended to prevent over-use of popular areas in the Central Cascades. Although my permit issued by the Pacific Crest Trail Association covers nearly all of the permissions I need on the trail, it does not allow me to camp in these restricted areas.

The restricted area the PCT goes through is small, however, and thru-hikers should not have any trouble finding alternative campsites.

From Milk Creek, which was at 4,350 feet in elevation, the trail began a steady climb for the next five miles, going up to Shale Lake at 5,885 feet. Almost immediately as I began the climb, rain began to fall.

After reaching the top of the climb, the trail passed Coyote and Shale lakes, which were in the restricted access area the trail goes through.

The trail then followed the side of a ridge. Looking down, I could see Hunts Lake in an area called Hunts Cove.

The rainfall was light and didn’t last long, finishing well before I made it to the top of the climb. After that, the sun came out in brief intervals. In one of these briefly-sunny moments, a rainbow appeared between layers of clouds.

Lingering water droplets enhanced the bright violet hues in the lupines that lined the trail.

When the sun came out again, I hoped it would shine long enough for me to dry my quilt. Unfortunately, soon after I pulled it out of my pack, the sky became cloudy again.

I was glad my quilt was only damp and not soaking wet. The sky remained cloudy until late in the afternoon and there were no other opportunities to set my quilt out to dry.

After leaving the two lakes, the trail made another climb, this one much more modest with an ascent of 870 feet in 3.5 miles.

The sky was especially cloudy near the top when the trail’s elevation ascended into the base of the clouds.

From the top of that climb, the trail followed a series of short ups and downs along a ridge for the next 6.3 miles.

When it dipped below the low clouds, there were some views between burnt trees, but I couldn’t see far off. If the distant views were better, I might have been able to see Mt. Jefferson.

It was depressing to see so many trees standing grey and lifeless, but I also felt fortunate. So far, I had not had to reroute my hike because of an active forest fire. That has been a serious problem for PCT hikers in recent years.

When I arrived at Rockpile Lake, I stopped to filter some water and eat a snack.

While I was there, a uniformed U.S. Forest Service ranger walked up to me. We exchanged hellos, and I noticed her badge said “volunteer,” so I asked her about that. She said she was paid a small stipend, but it was only a seasonal job. Like nearly all rangers I have met, she said she enjoyed working outdoors and that was part of the benefits of the job.

She then asked to see my PCT permit. It took me a minute to dig into my pack to retrieve it. After carrying it for more than 1,300 miles and meeting at least four or five other rangers, this was the first time I’d been asked to show my permit. I didn't resent her asking or resist showing it to her, though.

Once I showed her my permit, I politely asked her if she would mind if I took her photo for my blog. She tersely said no. This startled me, but I tried not to show it.

This was the only encounter I've had with a forest service employee that was less-than positive. I’m always courteous, and I try to take interest and show appreciation for the work rangers do. It was her right to say no and I respected her wishes, but what I felt was off-putting was her reaction. I got a sudden, cold shoulder when I asked.

Knowing I didn't do anything wrong, I shrugged this off and continued walking.

A rock ledge had been blasted from the side of the mountain to make part of the trail on this section. In the distance, I could see a lone volcano, Black Butte. Depending on the source, its elevation is listed at 6,430 feet or 6,415 feet.

Black Butte is cone-shaped like a volcano, so it’s unclear how it was named as a butte, which normally has a flat top. It turns out, no one knows how it got its name.

Though it is near other volcanoes, geologists say it is not part of the Cascade Range because it was formed from a separate, parallel fault.

Because of its lone position west of the Cascade Range, Black Butte was untouched by the glaciers that eroded many of the other volcanoes.

As the trail began one more descent, I recognized a hiker heading toward me. It was Christine, the hiker from New Zealand I had camped next to on Day 9.

We didn’t talk much that night in the desert, but we had a nice chat in the morning as we were packing to leave. Still, she seemed to only have a vague memory of meeting me. Usually it's the other way around when I meet people I barely know and haven't seen in a few months.

This section of trail where we met was new. It was finished just last year. The short reroute added about three-tenths of a mile to the PCT’s total distance.

The trail then passed by Wasco Lake, but was too high above the lake to make a water stop practical. Fortunately, a short distance farther was a small pond. I stopped here to get water for tonight, plus some extra besides that. I had wisely looked ahead and could see the trail would be crossing a long dry section tomorrow.

I arrived at our campsite just before 7 p.m. Bluejay and Sunkist had been here for quite a while because they had gotten their usual early start this morning.

When I mentioned to them the ranger asking me to show my permit, they said they met the same ranger. Bluejay said the ranger didn’t mind when she asked to take a photo.

I still don’t know what that was about, but again, I shrugged it off.

Our campsite was perched on a ledge and not far from a mountain called Three Fingered Jack. The trail will pass by it tomorrow.

The air was chilly again tonight and also breezy, which helped to dry out my tent and quilt soon after I set them up.

They like to get you in a compromising position
They like to get you there and smile in your face
They think, they're so cute when they got you in that condition
Well I think, it's a total disgrace

And I say
I fight authority, authority always wins
I fight authority, authority always wins
I been doing it since I was a young kid
I've come out grinnin'
I fight authority, authority always wins

From "Authority Song” by John Mellencamp

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"Nothing to tell now. Let the words be yours, I'm done with mine."ref.