Day 125: Family!

Today was the second time I had visitors on this trail, and, this time, it was family. We’d been planning to meet up with my parents at Crater Lake for months; as we slowly made progress towards Oregon, we were able to give them gradually firmer and firmer dates of when we’d be there. Well, today we got to Crater Lake…and, lo and behold, they were here!

We covered the last sixteen miles into Crater Lake’s Mazama Village — the main part of the national park below the lake itself — starting early this morning. As often happens when we know we’re getting to civilization soon, we were quite highly motivated and made fast progress. However, that doesn’t mean we missed what was all around us, and the forest we were hiking through was pretty striking: it’d been burned like so much of the forest around here, but this one some time ago, and there was a great deal of new growth — from young, small pine trees to various shrubs and bushes — all around. It was quite beautiful in its own way, and I’ve come to appreciate seeing all the different stages of forest on our path, from newly burned all the way to mature.

As we got close to the road and Mazama Village, though, our mind was really just on one thing: food, civilization, and a shower. We actually arrived at the café, our prearranged meeting place, somewhat before my parents and managed to start diving into a giant meal before they walked in. It was really great to see them, especially after over 1,800 miles on the trail. We ate while catching up with them, talked plenty, and then headed out.

The nearest reasonable place to stay to Crater Lake was Klamath Falls, Oregon, about an hour’s drive away. Once we got there, as you’ve no doubt come to expect if you’re reading this blog, glorious showers and laundry were done in short order. Dinner was our next preference, but, before we could do that, we had to attend to some business: we needed a new fuel canister…and I’d discovered just earlier today that one of the tips of my hiking poles had completely broken off. Pole tips are replaceable, and usually wear out after 800–1,000 miles, but seeing one snap off (although I’m not sure where it happened, exactly) is pretty rare.

Fortunately, we managed to find an outfitter in town…and he’s amazing. Mike, from The Ledge, not only took our call, but told us he’d happily let us into the store after hours from his climbing gym next door. He had fuel canisters, he had pole tips, and, most important of all, he replaced the tips on my poles — this is very difficult to do by yourself — all without charge and while being genuinely interested in, and incredibly supportive of, our trip. It still does not cease to impress me just how generous and kind people can be, particularly when you’re on a trip like this one, and I’m very grateful to him for being so good to us. If you ever end up in Klamath Falls, Oregon, go visit him!

After that errand, dinner was in store. We ended up at a local pizza parlor-slash-dive bar that was completely awesome: about as unpretentious as possible (order from the pony-tailed guy at the counter), great pizza, and a great beer selection. We talked plenty more with my parents over dinner, made it through about ⅞ of a large pizza (and an appetizer of cheese sticks)…and then were about ready to pass out. After a long day, lots to eat, and a beer, believe me, our capacity to stay upright was extremely limited.

Fortunately, we had a hotel to go back to, and that’s exactly what we did. Falling asleep in a giant, comfortable bed is just as great as you might imagine.

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