Monday 11th July
Start: Elk Lake Resort
End: Bushcamp, mile 1969
With renewed spirits (and bigger bellies), we hiked out of Elk Lake. It is incredible to feel clean and dry.
Despite a lot of cloud, the sun was working hard to burn through, casting beams of light throughout the forest. Steam rose from the soil. The birds have awoken in song.
During our initial climb out of the lake area we encountered a PCTA workgroup out maintaining the trail. This is a good sign! What nice people. Unfortunately for us a fallen tree further up the trail resulted in our second wrong-turn of the day. To our defence though, on that occasion after we realised our error and turned around we stopped 3 other PCT hikers who had also missed the turn. Stupid tree! In reality we added an extra 1.5 miles to our total miles today through these foolish errors (not counted above)!
Finally we were rewarded for our persistence with picture-book scenery. The day took us through lush forest, open meadows, across volcanic landscapes, all to the backdrop of vast mountains. The Three Sisters range of volcanos we were hiking in parallel to were constantly in and out of fluffy white clouds, creating striking unfolding vistas. I felt in awe of our surroundings. The camera kept clicking.
For once there was plenty of water. We stopped first at Mesa Creek, and sat for a while filtering water constantly doing a 360 in the process. At Hinton Creek we decided to cook our main meal for lunch – it lightened the load after all!
Just before we reached the Obsidian Limited Entry Zone we set up camp after 11 hours on the trail. We are facing the snow-covered glaciers that flank the North Sister, with a stream running right beside us. After enjoying a ‘refreshing’ wash in the freezing water, we are ready for bed, content with our hiking progress.
Today has been exactly what we had always hoped the trail to be like. It has been the best day so far – an amazing turnaround after a difficult few days. We have found our stride. After 19 miles we are not broken! We feel lucky to be here. Goodnight all.