Day 12: Nero to Crater Lake Lodge

Friday 1st July

Start: Mazama Village

End: Crater Lake Lodge, off mile 1820.5

Miles: 4.9

I admit that we did consider catching the free park trolley ride up to the Rim Village this morning, and hiking back down without our packs on to complete those PCT miles!  But a feeling of cheating prevailed so we set out up the steep Annie Springs connector trail to rejoin the PCT fully loaded up.

I feel like a broken record, but it was hard-going.  We climbed 1420 feet in a short space of time and had to use GPS to find the path through the snow.  Our packs now have 5 days of food in them, so we choose to carry only half a litre of water each to compensate.  What’s 5 miles anyway?!  We could have stopped at a few streams to refill, but once again the mosquitos were terrorising us.  Luckily a generous young couple from Colorado gave us an application of 100% deet which did seem to help towards the end.  We need to get hold of more of the stuff – why don’t the United States Postal Service offer road-side deliveries?! Water and deet please.

Trying to keep my feet dry – then we hit snow!

During the hike we bumped into Dan who had decided to take the trolley up and hike back downhill without a pack! That guy makes me laugh!

Conrad with Dan at Mazama Village

On arrival at the ‘historic’ Rim Village we guzzled about 2 litres of soda each from the ridiculously over-priced and understaffed cafe.  It’s the beginning of the July 4th weekend so the RVs are out in force, and kids played around slushing in patches of lingering snow.

Outside the cafe & gift shop

Just beyond the gift shop we scoped our first view of the famous Crater Lake. Wow it really is blue.  A trip to the small visitor centre taught me that Mount Mazama is a stratovolcano with caldera, and decreased in height by nearly 5000 feet when it collapsed after an eruption 7700 years ago.  The resulting lake is the deepest in the US.

Feeling pretty happy to have made it this far!
Wizard’s Island – named because it resembles a wizard’s hat

We tried to speak to a Park Ranger to find out more information about the trail conditions in the next section.  The resulting conversation was staggering for the sheer lack of any insight of information that he could provide.

Sinnot Memorial Overlook

We hung around the lake taking pictures and waiting to check into our room at the Lodge.  The veranda area overlooking the lake has wooden rocking chairs which made for a tranquil resting place.

Whilst there we received an email from a lovely lady called Joan who is a friend of Loren’s – the seasoned hiker we meet last week at South Brown Mountain shelter.  It was a real surprise to be told that Loren was about to come off of the trail at Shelter Cove this evening, some 200 miles short of his target destination.  He had said that he COULD get through, but that it was no fun, and that there is no point “doing it the hard way”.  This did make us think once again – are we doing the right thing by continuing?

The Lake Lodge
At sunset

Some ‘interesting’ facts for you!

Day 11: Crater Lake Zero Day

Thursday 30th June

Start & End: Mazama Village

Miles: 0

My feet are overjoyed today – zero miles!  And a bed. And a shower.  No 5:30am alarm call.

After 4 days of no phone signal and contact with the outside world, we took the opportunity to check emails, the news, and catch up with messages to friends and family.  It felt good to hear from people.  Mostly it was amazing to Skype my mum, albeit for a short time as a power outage in the village cut the call short!

Sitting in the darkness of our cabin, we worked on our plan for the next section.  Up until now our focus had just been getting here.  We now need a plan.  We want to push on, but the next section starting around Crater Lake’s rim trail has a massive 26 mile stretch without any water sources.  Except maybe snow!  That’s a bit scary for us novices.

After sorting out our food resupply box and donating surpluses to the hiker box, we sat outside the store talking with the other hikers.  One lady and her dad were waiting for a very expensive taxi to arrive to take them back to Klamath Falls.  They have had enough.  Jessie, the guy we met briefly at Hyatt Lake pulled up in a car – he had skipped from Fish Lake.  There is still no sign of Brandon and Maya.  I do worry about them.

Whilst enjoying not needing to be in a rush for a change I took some time to reflect on what I have learnt in the last 10 days…

  1. I mustn’t wear a retractable penknife on the outside of my pack in the future unless I want to stab myself (again)!
  2. Carry more deet
  3. And more water
  4. A kindle is not an essential piece of hiking equipment
  5. Mosquitos are evil
  6. But people are very kind


Day 10: Hello Crater Lake

Wednesday 29th June

Start: Bushcamp, mile 1811.5

End: Mazama Village, off mile 1818.4

Miles: 8.1

Our exit from camp came fast today – it helps when you have no fuel to cook anything.  We were also motivated to make lunch at Crater Lake!

The packs are finally feeling a lot lighter – containing just a day of food and 1 litre of water.  We hiked as fast as we could but we’re both experiencing jelly legs.  They were just non-responsive!  I think it was largely dehydration.  I was stumbling all over the place.  We need a rest.

It felt good to enter the park boundary a mile in, but we were still a way from anything.  At 5.5 miles from our destination I threw myself down into the dirt of the trail and just laid there.  Conrad came and sat with me.  It was a low point!  We stopped more than every mile after that to eat small bits of food for energy.  We were the walking dead.

Snow and trees remained our nemesis.  Those and the mosquitos who love the snow melt.  The snow got more plentiful and softer the closer we got, to the point it felt like we were walking through sand. They were the slowest miles despite the effort we were putting in!  When we finally saw highway 62 ahead I exhaled.  A small van was parked across the street and a girl from it started walking over to us as we looked at the map.  I was sure she was about to offer us a lift into the campsite village, but no, they had broken down and was asking whether we had phone signal!

So off we trudged for the last stretch off the PCT into Mazama Village.  It is not actually much of a village, but just the sight of the two small wooden buildings made me want to cry with happiness!  We had made it.  Hot food and a shower awaited us!

After a satisfying lunch of burgers, we were told our cabin was not ready yet.  So we joined a small group of hikers sat outside the camp store, including our new friend Dave.  Dave was loitering around drinking beer – I’m not sure what time he had started drinking but he was very animated.  I found him intense in my fragile state.  Maybe hiking alone can drive a person a little crazy?  He referred to our collective group as ‘Hikertrash’.  He can speak for himself – we may smell, but we’re not there yet!

We met two friendly ladies called Lori and Vicky who have hiked the Californian section previously.  They told us that Alfred ‘Speedball’ had arrived the day before and quit the trail.  He said it was just miserable.  We were completely shocked as he had been so confident, had a super light pack, and was very well-built.  They also revealed that in their opinion this had been the toughest section they have ever walked because of the conditions.  This made us feel some solace.

Whilst sitting in the sun wearing our hot rain gear (clothes in the washer), Dan from Kentucky arrived following his 2 days of road walking.  He looked very tanned.  He was joined not long after by Jesus lookalike Habit, who brought further news from Fish Lake that Dirty Hippy had pulled out.  Another shocker!  This guy was a determined 19-year old about to join the marines who was making record time from Mexico.  He was even climbing further mountains on the side with an ice axe just for fun.  His reason for quitting? He had got bored.

Thanks to Chris and Leslie in hiking HQ we received our first resupply box of food and essentials.  What a relief!  With it we retired to our cabin to shower and take a nap.

It arrived in tact!

Later in the evening whilst waiting for a pizza, Micah and his parents walked into the restaurant.  He actually was barely walking.  Conrad called him Sheriff!  He had walked solid to complete the section in 2 days.  I thought that we were broken, but he showed us!  He had counted 803 blow-downs since Fish Lake!  His parents were there to take him home.  He was out.  I hope he enjoys some time away and maybe rejoins us at a later date.  I don’t blame him.  It is disheartening to see so many of the hikers we have befriended opt out so early on.

The last 10 days have been brutal.  I wasn’t expecting it to be easy, but I also wasn’t expecting this.  The combination of blow-downs, snow, and mosquitos have taken their toll.  We will rest tomorrow and plan our next section with a clear head.  Thanks to everyone so far for all your support.

Lassen National Park let down

16th June 2016

Lassen National Park to Redding

Continuing north on our journey to Oregon we had just one day to do a quick ‘highlights’ tour of Lassen.  We had our plan.  It was going to be intense.  We would drive the park road from the southwest entrance exiting through the north.  This would allow us to marvel at the geothermal wonders, take lots of pics, and hike the famous Bumpass Hell to Kings Creek trail.  Hiking up Lassen Peak was also a potential option. Continue reading Lassen National Park let down