Day 132: The Beautiful Oregon

Sometimes it’s difficult to know what to say here — at least in this part of our hike, some days just aren’t that different from the day before. We’re fortunate to still be in the part of Oregon that’s packed chock-full of lakes, relatively flat, and heavily forested; this means we’re spending our days cruising right along in the shade, and have water easily accessible at almost all times.

It’s gotten to be fairly warm outside during the days — up to the lower 80s — which means that whether you’re hiking in shade or in sun makes a huge difference. We also have some of the highest temperature differences of our entire trip; it was 37° when we woke up just a few mornings ago. I’ll start hiking in my fairly heavy hoody, then need to take it off in an hour or two as the temperature starts rising sharply. In the middle of the day, the last thing I’d want is any more clothing, and I’ll be sweating…but the next night will be plenty cold again.

We’re beginning to look ahead to Washington, too; yesterday, we made reservations at hotels in Cascade Locks, a town right on the PCT on the border of Oregon and Washington, for a zero or double zero when we arrive in a week and a half. (And, yes, there’s cell-phone service — LTE, no less — about a half dozen times a day here on the trail.) That’s still a long ways away, but we’re very much looking forward to a chance to really rest up before tackling Washington, which is supposed to be both really beautiful and considerably tougher hiking than Oregon.

Part of looking ahead to Washington, too, is starting to pay attention to the wildfires up there that are keeping parts of the trail closed. It’s still too far away to really worry, but some of these are a pretty big deal: one wildfire currently has part of the very last stretch of the trail closed, and the only way around it is a 100-mile road walk that adds 40 miles to the length of your trip. I certainly am keeping my fingers crossed that it gets contained and the trail gets re-opened before we get there; that’s over a month away, though, so there’s plenty of time.

In fact, we heard from our friends Dilly and Dally today that they, and about fifty other PCT hikers, are currently completely stuck at Crater Lake. The fire that caused all the smoke when we were there has now expanded, and now the section of the PCT that heads north out of Crater Lake is closed. The only way to get around it is to drive almost a hundred miles in a giant detour, and getting someone to give you that ride is just about impossible. Last we heard, they have no idea what they’re going to do — obviously nobody’s remotely in danger (the National Park Service, Forest Service, firefighters, and sheriff would all evacuate people long before that happened), but it sure is a frustrating situation to be in, with no good answers. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that things improve for them, there, rapidly as well…and glad that we were lucky enough to make it through there before the fire got this bad.

Tonight, we’re camped at Elk Lake Resort, a large lake with a campground and, most importantly of all, a restaurant, just an 0.7–mile detour off the PCT. Getting to eat real food for an evening was so worth it, and it’s nice to be able to take water from a tap and use “real” bathrooms (here, an outhouse) instead of our usual more difficult variants of those. Early tomorrow morning, though, we head straight back to the trail — we have two lengthy days before reaching our next resupply point, Big Lake Youth Camp.

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