Monday 11th July

Start: Elk Lake Resort

End: Bushcamp, mile 1969

Miles: 19.1

With renewed spirits (and bigger bellies), we hiked out of Elk Lake.  It is incredible to feel clean and dry.

Ready to leave Elk Lake
Vicki & Laurie and our little cabin

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.

The forest is drying out at last

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)!

South Sister in the clouds
Middle Sister

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.

Mirror Lake

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!

Hinton Creek
Filtering is tedious

Further on we were surprised to still face many snow crossings.  It seems like neither sun nor rain can shift the stuff!

Sugar – all the way from England!

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.

I think this was North Sister?

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.

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