Day 29: Jefferson Park

Monday 18th July

Start: Bushcamp, mile 2030

End: Jude Lake Bushcamp, mile 2047

Miles: 17.1

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 early morning mist at camp

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.

A whole mountain disappears in the mist

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.

Fixie’s jellybean gaiters

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.

Ollalie Lake Resort

Mmm, I deserve this ice cream

Loaded with Pringle power

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.

Should we really be walking under these power lines?

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.

Day 28: Approaching Jefferson

Sunday 17th July

Start: Bushcamp, mile 2012

End: Bushcamp, mile 2030

Miles: 17.4

Last night’s camp was bizarre.  An arctic wind picked up shortly after we arrived, and as the sun went down a thick mist enveloped the lake.  I had to wear two pairs of socks to regain the feeling in my toes.  Yet at 2am when nature called (the worst part of camping), I braved it to go outside and it was silent.  I was startled by how bright it was.  A perfect round moon was being mirrored in the lake, illuminating the camp.  I swiftly fell back to sleep, but the next day Conrad told me he had heard either a large deer or elk grazing right by the tent just after that.  Lucky it hadn’t woken me, because in the dead of night I would have convinced myself it was a cougar!

Rockpile Lake camp

The day started walking along a ridge that provided us far-reaching views.  On one side Mount Jefferson beckoned, it’s perfect conical shape resembling a melting walnut whip.  On the other side, steep slopes covered in trees stretched as far as we could see.  What stood out was the contrast of burn zones verses living green trees.  Hovering above were thick clouds which made the mountain tops appear like islands in a vast white sea.

We made good progress today.  Having seemed to climb for a good proportion of the hike, we made camp besides Whitewater Creek just after 5pm.  Mount Jefferson, so far away yesterday got closer and closer until we were circling its base.  The mountain is huge.  It is technically a stratovolcano, and the second tallest peak in Oregon.  It has multiple glaciers, giving it a craggy scared appearance, and many alpine lakes in its shadow.


Mount Jefferson

Having crossed the Cathedral Rocks area and refilled our water at the very pretty Shale Lake, we rather confusingly began to lose altitude.  At around 4000-5000 feet the forest was very different.  Bright green ferns and grasses overran the path, which we trod with care given my last encounter with poison oak.  Hummingbirds frantically hovered around us, making an extraordinary noise for such tiny creatures.  The sound of crickets were frequent.

As feared, we began an enduring climb in the mid-afternoon heat.  Conrad is having an issue with his hip bone causing him a lot of pain.  We therefore took regular breaks, and lightened his pack.  I am at a loss about what to do about it.  He is in denial, and refused to seek any medical help when in Bend.  I guess we have to monitor it and hope for the best.

One of many creek crossings

Making me nearly crap my pants as we rounded a bend, a solo forestry worker was beside the trail doing some maintenance.  He asked our details, gave us a lecture about burying our poo at least 6 inches down, and then warned about a forecasted thunderstorm later tonight!  We spent the rest of the afternoon gazing up at the sky in worry.

Jefferson reflected in Shale Lake

A mile from camp we had the pleasure of crossing Russell Creek, which the PCT maps warn is a dangerous crossing.  Sure enough the water was thunderous, and arching over it a questionable snow bridge showing advance signs of decay.  Lucky for me Conrad insisted on going first and made it across a bit further below the main trail crossing point.  Looks like we shall live to hike another day!

Russell Creek ice bridge
Crossing the ice bridge!

Day 27: Let’s finish Oregon

Saturday 16th July

Start: Santiam Pass, mile 1998

End: Rockpile Lake Bushcamp, mile 2012

Miles: 14

With much reluctance we left Bend and headed back to the trail.  I’m going to miss that place; the endless food choices and king-size bed in particular.

A trail Angel named UberDucky (aka Brian) gave us a ride back to Santiam Pass trailhead, where we had hitchhiked from only a few days before.  He does this throughout the hiking calendar for nothing but gas money.  We were very appreciative.  Our bags felt ultra heavy given all the nice food that we have brought in town.

Saying goodbye to UberDucky

Overall today was more of a mental challenge than a physical one.  It was nearly 11am by the time we started hiking, so we were happy to aim for a camp only 14 miles away.  As its the weekend we passed lots of day hikers.  I felt very jealous of them.  They were out enjoying the same scenery as us, yet were able to turn around and go back to the comfort of home tonight.  The prospect of the five straight nights of camping that we now have before us is wearing me down.  I like to hike.  I don’t like to camp!

Trailhead anxiety

We passed another young couple doing a south-bound section hike who had started just 2 days after we had.  The guy summed up my sentiments perfectly when he said: “it just gets old”.  He was referring to the chore of camping night after night.  My focus to overcome these feelings is to concentrate on completing Oregon in this next week.  It will feel like an epic achievement, and will hopefully spur us onto Washington!

The hike began with a 5-mile steady ascent, most of which was through a silvered forest of old burn.  Amethyst coloured wildflowers attracting buzzing bees flanked the rocky path.  The sun was shining.  Unfortunately for us amidst the heat we had to ration water for 10 miles to the first pond.

We partially climbed and navigated around the western face of Three Fingered Jack – the jagged mountain we had seen in the distance from near Youth Camp.  As we got closer to it’s north face, stripes of black and red volcanic layers appeared.  Some of the scree slopes that we needed to cross were a little dubious.  Awesome I thought – a chance to mess up my new hiking shoes!

Three Fingered Jack

We met some interesting characters today, but my personal favourite was loincloth man.  We didn’t actually get introduced, but he was hiking in nothing but a loincloth and pack.  I have now seen it all!  Why is it never the young, buff people who feel like being naked in public?  I tried to get a sneaky photo from behind, but he was moving too fast for me.  After him we met a cute young girl hiking alone after her boyfriend had bailed on her (typical)!  She enthusiastically told us: “you got this”, referring to us reaching Canada.  This made us laugh as she had only just met us, and we had both been moaning about camping the entire time!

The last 4 mile into camp took us through a more recent burn zone.  This meant lots of blown down trees to climb over, and a bleak scenery as life was yet to return there.  When the views opened up I was pleased to see Three Fingered Jack looking very far behind us – we were on the other side of it this morning!  And even further back, the string of Three Sisters still sprinkled in snow.  Progress!

Three Fingered Jack now in the distance

We are camped on the edge of a very windy Rockpile Lake.  A large grazing deer startled me shortly after we arrived.  He appeared out of nowhere and was very close by.  He was also staring at me whilst eating, with a look that told me this was his turf!  I shall go to sleep tonight happy in the knowledge that we have ‘just’ 129 hiking miles left of Oregon!

Our lunch subs – I carried those for 6 miles! Best trail lunch yet!

Day 26: Bend again!

Friday 15th July

Start & End: Bend

Miles: 0

Our final chance to relax before rejoining the trail tomorrow, yet our bodies are more tired today than any other day so far – why is that?

I am a bit worried by Conrad’s painful hip bone, and his nasty mystery rash just below his belly button.  Returning to sleeping on a blow-up mattress is going to be tough!  I will also greatly miss the shower.

Deschutes Brewery pub on NW Bond St.

Today we both got haircuts (much-needed in a certain person’s case), and sorted out our food resupply.  In the grocery store I wanted to buy everything in sight but tried to constrain myself!  We also posted 2 mini packages of extra food to our next 2 resupply points after Timberline Lodge, so hopefully we will be less hungry – if we figure out how to carry it all!

Fancy ‘clean’ hair!

A PCT Trail Angel has agreed to give us a ride back to Santium Pass tomorrow, so we’re all set, and if all goes to plan from there next Sunday we shall complete Oregon!

Dan arrived in town today, finally catching us up.  We will expect to see him in this section as he starts hiking a day after us.  I am both excited and reluctant to head back out…

Day 25: Bend Birthday Zero

Thursday 14th July

Start & End: Bend

Miles: 0

I have decided that Conrad needs to be fattened up – he looks so skinny!  So the day started with a breakfast at a place I was recommended to by a local called La Magie Bakery.  There he started his drinking early, had a hot brekkie, a pastry, and an eclair!  So far my plan is working well.

We borrowed bikes and rode a short way south to the Old Mill District to visit our favourite shop – REI.  It has become an internal joke now at how often we find ourselves in REI on this trip.  We were there to buy some dehydrated food for the next section and to return my broken shoes.  It wasn’t fun.  It wasn’t a quick trip, but I finally came away with a different pair of shoes!  Poor Conrad.

The Deschutes River
Tonnes of people tubing down the river

Cycling along the Deschutes River and through Drake Park, I have decided to add Bend to the list of US towns that I would like to live in.  I love this place.  It is busy without being crowded, has an excellent position for outdoor access, and is full of independent stores and food choices.

Today’s food has been amazing!  Since breakfast we have had:

  • Pizza
  • Gelato
  • Cherries
  • Roast chicken (me)
  • Rib-eye steak (Conrad)
  • Chocolate cake

After a fantastic dinner in a local Cajun American restaurant called Zydeco, we are incredibly tired – it’s as if our bodies are shutting down whilst not hiking.  Tomorrow we plan to spend less time on our feet and relax even more!

Day 24: Big Youth to Bend

Wednesday 13th July

Start: Bushcamp, mile 1986

End: Bend, via Santiam Pass, mile 1998.4

Miles: 12

I want to be a kid in America. More to the point, I want to be a kid who goes to Summer Camp.  Having woken to an early alarm and frantically packed up camp on an empty stomach, we hiked our hardest effort for 7 miles to arrive at Big Lake Youth Camp for breakfast at 9am!

Bushcamp at 5:30am

The first few miles were all uphill with a load of blow downs, so I became increasingly desperate in thinking we wouldn’t make it.  Breakfast would be a cereal bar if not, and that wouldn’t cut it today!  The approach to camp was a burn zone, with some wild flowers starting to show life returning.  I expected to see a big lake as we weaved down the mountain, but not until long after I heard the sound of children singing did we catch sight of the place.  It was comfortably hidden amongst the trees.
Arriving at the camp I felt ecstatic – we had made it! After registering with a very cheerful young camp counsellor, we left our packs with a pile of other hiker gear and headed for the dining hall.  It felt like an old wooden school canteen.  Today’s menu was bagels, vegetarian patties, and a cereal bar.  Without even thinking I loaded my plate with every side option available – my bagel had butter, jam, peanut butter AND cream cheese on it (and I had seconds)!  What a glutton.

I have to say I have never enjoyed a bagel as much in my life!  Plus some oatmeal.  Hunger makes everything taste great, and I couldn’t have appreciated those cooks anymore.  We sat in the staff mezzanine area, which was nice because downstairs was pandemonium!  The kids here are full of energy, even singing over their food.  I wish I could have been that enthusiastic about anything at that age!

We chatted with some of the staff.  They all looked young, wholesome, and were super friendly.  Is someone handing out happy pills here?!  Toby from Eugene had just graduated as an aero-mechanic, but thinks he wants to work with kids.  Jeff, from Tillamock, a pretty Coastal town we have previously visited is about to start his third year of a biblical studies degree. These guys were in a good place – the camp is run by the Seventh Day Adventist Church.

Whilst in camp we were trying to make use of the wi-fi to book a hotel room in Bend.  We tried for over an hour in vain, so decided to wing it.  During this time I was also doing some spying on the other hikers food bags – a few girls were reorganising their bags having just received their resupply boxes.  I came to the conclusion that they eat more on a daily basis than us.  How annoying.  The issue is that they are hiking a few more miles a day, so in a typical section they are between supply points for less time.  Hence overall they can carry more food per day.  Catch 22 situation – the heavier our pack the less we manage to walk before our feet are killing, yet the more we walk the hungrier we are.  We shall continue to try increasing our miles and see if we can improve things.

I was sad to leave such a happy place, but these feelings were surpassed by the excitement of getting to ‘town’!  The sun had really heated up during the last couple of hours.  We set off at pace keen to reach highway 20, and hopefully a ride off the trail.  As we were walking through another burn area I was staring at the deformed alien-looking trees thinking about the last few days.  There have been stretches of the trail, (such as this morning), where it really feels impossible.  I don’t think my body can continue to pull me forward.  But then we make it.  That is such a great feeling to reflect on.

Three Fingered Jack Peak in the distance

I was nervous about whether we would catch a ride (and whether we would never be seen again), but within 2 minutes of me holding up my homemade ‘Bend please’ cardboard sign a pickup truck stopped!  Carl is a fellow hiker who was going to the nearby town of Redmond and was luckily in no rush!  He was happy for the company, and I found him easy to chat with.  Talking about the upcoming US elections is always a conversation-starter!  What a very wonderful person to go out of his way to drop us into downtown Bend – 40 miles from the trailhead.

Driving through downtown Bend was a sensory overload!  I could smell food.  There are so many shops.  We could go anywhere, have anything!  The choices are over-whelming!  After checking into a very overpriced hotel, our first stop was a late burger lunch.  Conrad’s prayers answered.  After that I rewarded my messed-up feet with a pedicure.  Whilst away from Conrad for the first time in ages I dashed around shops looking for something to give him for his birthday tomorrow.  Without being able to carry much the options were limited – I brought some fancy food bars, a nice soap for him to use in town, some foot powder, and healing cream for his rash – not your typical presents!  At least he will have something to unwrap.

Bend local farm market

Tonight I had the best hot shower EVER.  Conrad did our laundry, and then we went for a few drinks in a Latin Bar.  Whilst there we were mostly excited about the prospect of getting to sleep in a bed tonight – I can’t wait!

Day 23: Stupid Lava Day

Tuesday 12th July

Start: Obsidian Bushcamp, mile 1969

End: Lava Bushcamp, mile 1986

Miles: 17

We started and ended our day completely frozen!  What is this Oregon weather playing at?  It was supposed to be really hot by now…

Camping at over 6000 feet last night we appeared to be in the clouds of North Sister.  I spent the night tossing and turning feeling cold.  Our sleeping bags are meant to be good to minus 9 degrees Celsius!  When we started hiking my muscles just couldn’t warm up and were crying in pain.

Obsidian Falls

The Obsidian Limited Entry Zone is a protected area which the PCT crosses for a couple of miles, unique for its indigenous volcanic glass cliffs.  The glass was used by Native Americans to make tools.  Even early in the morning the ground was catching the light and glistening like thousands of tiny mirrors. Luckily we didn’t seem to have punctured the tent on the stuff last night!

Obsidian volcanic glass

The snow from yesterday became more frequent as we traverses the northern edge of the Sisters and Little Brother.  It was easily crossed, but slowed us down a lot.

I thought we were going slow, until we reached our the lava!  Wow, that stuff sucks to walk on – especially in trail running shoes!  The first section up though Opie Dilldock Pass formed an endless series of switchbacks where we didn’t appear to be getting anywhere.  It was hard-going, nearly 3 hours into our day and we had managed 4.7 miles!

Opie Dilldock Pass

The lava continued and grew in its coverage up and around McKenzie Pass road.  There were quite a few day-hikers around, probably due to the road access. We were stopped a number of times to chat, and two separate people asked to take our photos.  How strange, but funnily!  Some people are so captivated by our mission to Canada.  We were told that we were: ‘superstars’, and even ‘heroes’!  I seriously beg to differ, but it was nice to hear anyway!  Shame they didn’t open up their packs and reward us with some food – well, all except one lady who gave us a spare Lara Bar.  Thank you so much to her.

This brings me onto food.  Maybe hiker hunger is rapidly taking over.  I am increasingly consumed by thoughts of food.  I mostly crave salty savoury items, such as bread and butter, baked potatoes, or chips.  Our diet on the trail largely consists of a fairly decent breakfast of oats or granola, followed by snack bars most of the day, and then a dehydrated meal (usually pasta) for dinner.  I am never satisfied.  I wish that we could carry more.  Food is heavy.  Whilst feeling quite miserable in these thoughts earlier I asked Conrad why I am the only one who seems to be suffering, and he swiftly confirmed that he is constantly hungry!

We had a camp in sight today at the 20-mile mark.  We gave up 3 miles short at nearly 7pm, having started hiking at 7:15am.  The last section of lava had finished us off!  The fist-sized rocks are so difficult to walk on.  We kept rolling our ankles, and I was starting to feel shin pain from all the jarring movement.  The wind coming over Mount Washington was battering us.  
I hate not reaching a goal.  This means we are now 7 miles from making breakfast at Big Lake Youth Camp, a popular PCT stop.  I’m not sure if we will make it in time, but given that food is at stake we will give it our best shot!

Day 22: The Three Sisters

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.

Day 21: Trail Magic

Sunday 10th July

Start: Desane Lake Bushcamp, mile 1939

End: Elk Lake Resort, off mile 1950.1

Miles: 12.2

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!

Collecting water from a freezing Desane Lake

Whilst hiking I was trying to compile a mental list of things to be positive about today.  Here is where I got to:

  1. Because it was so cold the mosquitos were much less active
  2. Our feet couldn’t now get any wetter
  3. Apart from the first 2 miles of the day the tree blow downs had been freshly cleared
  4. We are getting closer to Conrad’s birthday in Bend, (and hopefully to some replacement shoes)!
  5. We would get a shower and some hot food today
Still raining – at Island Lake

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.

Just outside Elk Lake

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!

Irish hospitality is awesome

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!

Impressive setup

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, Pat, Bernadette & her sister

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!

With the lovely Vicki & Laurie

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!

Real food!!!

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.

With Karen & her son