Sunday 10th July
Start: Desane Lake Bushcamp, mile 1939
End: Elk Lake Resort, off mile 1950.1
There is nothing like hiking with frozen wet feet and the promise of a burger and shower in sight to get us moving! We broke our own personal record to hike through the rain and arrive in Elk Lake Resort by 1:30pm!
Whilst hiking I was trying to compile a mental list of things to be positive about today. Here is where I got to:
- Because it was so cold the mosquitos were much less active
- Our feet couldn’t now get any wetter
- Apart from the first 2 miles of the day the tree blow downs had been freshly cleared
- We are getting closer to Conrad’s birthday in Bend, (and hopefully to some replacement shoes)!
- We would get a shower and some hot food today
Whilst hiking I kept pleading with Mother Nature for a break in the rain. It didn’t come. The other thing I was praying for was a minor miracle – a bed for the night somewhere dry i.e. not in our tent! The later wish was unlikely because we had already emailed the resort a couple of days ago to be told that a family reunion had booked out all the cabins and campground.
On our final approach into the resort, we hadn’t quite caught a glimpse of the main building when we bumped into an elderly hiker on his way out. Ed was heading towards the last 2 days of his section hike having just spent the night. As we were talking to him (and I was secretly trying to leave so we could try to make lunch in the restaurant), another voice called over to us from behind a BBQ: “do any of you guys want some food?”! These are like magic words to hikers! Without a second of hesitation – Yes we would LOVE some food!
We were entering the Coughlin family reunion. They had apparently just finished eating, though looking at the piles of food laid out under the marquee you would never have guessed it! We had fajitas, tortillas, dips, fresh bread, fruit and best of all ice cream cones! I felt like I had walked into an American movie, I had never witnessed anything like it. So many people, so much equipment, all under the rain cover of a series of marquees!
Janet and her husband Pat from Redmond had arranged for over a hundred family members from all over America to join the festivities. This was organised like a military operation. I felt bad for their timing with this freak weather, but they were certainly making the most of it! What a friendly bunch of cheerful people. So many of them came to talk to us and ask about our trip – we felt like the star attraction over lunch, it was electric.
Janet really is a very special lady. Not satisfied with just feeding us, she arranged for us to get showers and use the laundry facilities in Colleen’s cabin, invited us for dinner, and even gave us a rustic cabin for the night that her sons had used the previous night! We were a bit embarrassed and overwhelmed by the generosity. Colleen was also awesome – helping with our laundry, getting us fresh towels, and giving us chocolate to take away, despite the intrusion into her family time.
Back in the main lodge Vicki and Laurie had arrived after a big hiking day, also motivated to get out of the rain. We enjoyed some drinks with them. They were thankful when we offered them the loft mattress space in the cabin. I wasn’t sure if they would be insulted because it is basically just a shed, but they were so grateful to be out of the rain, so the 4 of us had a cosy night. With our little stove the place was toasty warm and allowed us to dry out our gear which was hanging from every possible spot!
We had a wonderful dinner with the Coughlin family. Spaghetti with meatballs, garlic bread, and stuffed chicken. We chatted a lot with aunt Bernadette who I really liked. In conversation we were talking about pies and out of nowhere she had arranged for two pieces of strawberry pie from their meal yesterday to appear! Janet ended the night with a massive food giveaway. We took away some cookies and oatmeal which will be much enjoyed on the trail, and made their way around the hiking group!
I have honestly never met such warm, welcoming, gracious people. They kept asking if there was anything else they could get us. I wanted to cry! Thank you so much, you have no idea how you have answered our prayers and turned our spirits around. I feel like someone has picked me up, given me a hug, and put me back on my feet again. I know my mum would be so happy to hear that we had been looked after like this. It also makes me miss home. I wish it were my family here enjoying such a joyful reunion.