Monday 18th July
Start: Bushcamp, mile 2030
End: Jude Lake Bushcamp, mile 2047
Today saw the return of my leggings. It was Baltic when we unzipped the tent and saw that we were in the clouds. The thunder storms never hit us, although we apparently missed a late-night lightening show according to a passerby.
The most special scenery today was witnessed hiking through the small protected Jefferson Park. It only lasts for a mile of the PCT, but the sub-alpine meadow was striking. We didn’t see another person, and the place was shrouded in the early morning mist which gave it a mysterious quality. I kept searching through the clouds into neighbouring meadows looking for wildlife, but didn’t see any. Colourful wildflowers in pink, purple, white and yellow contrasted against the grey. Lots of tiny lakes dotted the landscape.
Leaving the northern park boundary our most strenuously graded climb of the hike so far began. Up the side of Park Butte, reaching nearly 7000 feet in just a couple of miles. I was glad it was still really cold at that point. There were patches of snow above 6000 feet, as we had to hop across a number of creeks. At one point, with the running streams and grey wet mist everywhere we decided that this must be what Brecon Beacons (Wales) looks like in November!
We crossed some snow fields on the other side of the pass, which were conveniently not too icy or slushy. We were obviously the first people through the pass that day, evident by the lack of footprints to follow. However, unlike any other snow fields we have passed, someone had taken the time to build large stone pyramids (cairns) to mark the trail. We just had to look for them. There was one brief tricky climb over some boulders. We could have slid down the snow instead but didn’t want to get wetter given the temperature
Descending from Jefferson we entered the Mount Hood Wilderness. The sun also made a welcomed appearance. My leggings came off. The path was very rocky which was increasingly hurting my already sore feet. I was cursing replacing my old hole-ridden shoes. It’s funny how I think we have trained our bodies and become fitter, only to be let down by one complaint after another. My arms ache as I guess I over-used my poles yesterday to compensate for the feet issues. At camp I discovered 2 new blisters. Conrad’s hips are a bit better today.
We stopped to have some lunch at Many Lake viewpoint, which would have been a stunning view had it not been for so many trees in the way! Cheese and crackers were on the menu – something new I’m trying and really enjoyed. Whilst there a south-bound hiker named Fixie stopped by and chatted. She is doing a jellybean challenge, taking guesses for how many jellybeans feature on her gaiters, I guessed 349. We shall see if I win. Leaving there after the break both of us complained that our legs had gone to sleep – looks like the ascent earlier was taking its toll.
We reached the tiny resort at Olallie lake just after 3pm. This place is described as a ‘tech-free haven’, which also apparently means no hot water or electricity so it wasn’t on our accommodation hit list. I was excited however to get there since a hiker yesterday had told us they sold ice cream! Walking into the small wooden store I was struck by how dark it was – no electric lighting. A little lady sat in the dim room reading a book; I get the feeling she reads a lot of books. We purchased the last two ice creams, some cold drinks, sweets, and a large tube of Pringles. All the essentials covered, we sat on the front porch watching people fishing in the lake.
Originally our plan was to camp on Olallie Lake, it certainly was a pretty setting, but we decided to push on for a few extra miles. Walking through another ‘furry’ temperate forest in the late afternoon we passed our first real south-bounders, meaning they are hiking all the way from Canada to Mexico. A very attractive young couple who looked much fitter than us! They crossed the Northern Cascades in early June with ice axes and spikes. Wow. Puts our snow escapades to shame.
We are camping tonight on the edge of Jude Lake within the Warm Springs Indian Reservation. The water could be clearer and easier to access due to all the reeds and ferns. I miss a cold creek. Conrad just saw a lobster looking for food where we had collected our drinking water from. Awesome.