Friday 24th June
Start: South Brown Mountain shelter, mile 1761
End: Fish Lake Resort, off mile 1771
Greatest achievement today was cadging a lift off a nice trio so we didn’t have to waste miles road walking. Biggest failure is harder to pin down. Maybe my lingering swollen feet. Maybe the bitter disappointment at not getting a bed at Fish Lake for the night.
It was a cold camp this morning so we were sluggish packing up. We always take longer when there are other people around to talk to and Loren was in no hurry. He really left a lasting impression on me as a very kind person. He is responsible for maintaining a stretch of the northern PCT from Harts Pass. At nearly 65 he is a far more accomplished hiker and outdoorsman than the two of us.
As we were just about to leave I was startled by a tiny dog at my feet. Park Explorer and his chihuahua Ari were already 6 miles into their day! Ari didn’t strike me as the obvious choice of hiking dog. I asked his owner if he worried about the mountain lions. Apparently the raptors are a bigger threat – from up above Ari looks like a rabbit! Poor little tyke.
For the first time we found ourselves hiking in long sleeves, it felt that cold. Within a couple of miles we reached the lava fields which form of base of Brown Mountain. Walking on the solid rocks I treaded gingerly. Each step felt like I was walking over hot coals. My feet pads are very swollen – this did not help! The lava was visually striking, the stark anthracite boulders contrasting against the lush green forests below. In the distance stood a snowy Mount McLoughlin, yet another volcano I hope does not decide to erupt anytime soon.
By noon it had really heated up. Just after climbing over yet another fallen tree we met a local trio who were enjoying their lunch. It was at this point that we were delivered the news that the UK had voted to leave the EU! We were beyond shocked. Pat, Joan, and John were about to turn around and head back to their car on Highway-140. They offered us a lift for the 2 miles along the road to Fish Lake Resort. We had both been hoping on reaching there before lunch ended at 2pm. This was fate!
Before you think it, catching a lift off the PCT is not cheating. We will start right back where we left off and it saved my nasty feet a harsh tarmac pounding!
We were beyond grateful for our first ride. What kind people they are. We arrived elated and just about made lunch. Excited to be told that the last ‘rustic’ cabin was vacant, we paid for the night and lugged our bags to the room. Wow. The place was a dirty shed. In the middle of the room stood a full garbage bin. The carpets were stained and the bed – a bare dirty mattress – looked like it belonged in a crack den! For $75 with no bathroom we sadly returned the key and headed for the small PCT campsite.
There will be 5 tents with 7 people on our little site tonight. These include Park Explorer and Ari, and Alfred ‘SpeedBall’, a very matter-of-fact maths teacher. Laundry complete – we smelt ripe – we got to enjoy a 3.5 minute luke-warm shower each for 6 quarters! This was grim. My clothes were also not quite dry so that put a bit of a downer into going to bed, but luckily I am so tired I am past caring!
There are a lot of people ‘zeroing’ here tomorrow to rest up and give the snow ahead a chance to disappear! We are tired now so will consider our options over a hot breakfast and gallons of coffee in the morning.