Spanning days 141 and 142, this episode sees Molly and Ethan hike from Big Lake Youth Camp to beyond Ollalie Lake. Along the way, they surpass the 2000 mile mark and reflect on the miles as well as the pride they feel for having come so far. Having skirted around Mt Jefferson, they finally get views of Mt Hood in the distance; their future destination and the spot of a well needed two days zero. Along the lakeside of Ollalie they are treated to magic in the form of homemade Mexican food delivered by some of the most kind and generous trail angels yet but have to peel themselves away from the treat to find a little spot for camp to one side of the trail. Only one more whole day of hiking before Ethan’s parents meet them at Timberline Lodge. Excitement is in the air.
A day of obsidian, waterfalls, lava fields and mountains awaits your ears in this episode. The team leave behind the Three Sisters and their volcanic wake on their way to Big Lake Youth Camp where a thrifty resupply proves useful for the coming days ahead.
An early and cold morning kept the mosquitoes at bay as our duo left the shores of Stormy Lake. After a day of monotonous woodland, Ethan was hoping for open views and possibly glimpses of the Three Sisters as they etched their way through the wilderness dedicated to those volcanic mountains. Great progress was made by lunch and, come evening, Molly and Ethan found themselves staring up at the red volcanic slopes of what was surely one of the great Sisters. As the evening light cast itself upon the meadows and forest around them, they settled for camp at the base of the Sister (possibly Middle, though equally possibly Southern) surrounded by south-bound and day hikers attracted to the spot for the exact same reasons.
Ethan and Molly wake up to the tail end of the storm that thundered down on them the previous evening. Trudging through the mud and wet bush, they head towards Shelter Cove – a small lakeside campsite with a shop, restaurant and possible accommodation in the face of worsening conditions. Indeed the weather did not let up and Shelter Cove proved to be an ideal stop. The next morning brought clearer skies and dried kit. Our dynamic duo monopolised on these favourable conditions achieving a 29-mile day through the relatively flat green tunnel to yet another lake called Stormy. Though both days didn’t bring much in the way of wild beauty, having entered the Three Sisters Wilderness the days to come were aligned to make up for it.
The day before wasn’t the most entertaining day for the guys. To entertain themselves they played a little game known as “Snog, Marry or Kill”. The subject of said game? Just three of histories well-known Gods. Well, they learnt their lesson on route towards Shelter Cove when the God left for dead took his vengeance. Join the gang as they find themselves in the grip of a storm which culminates in thunderous claps of lightning and “hailstones the size of walnuts” as they traverse a high ridgeline.
Despite warning signs, Molly and Ethan survive a night without disturbance from Mountain Lions. Legs and limbs still intact, they start the days hike around the rim of Crater Lake, admiring its beauty in the morning light. The day ahead is full of long dry stretches so the dynamic duo make the most of water caches left by trail angels along the way. The trail meanders back to the green tunnel, though large stretches pass through diseased and dying woodlands, providing little distraction from the stifling heat. Eventually, they reach the base of Mt Theilsen – a jagged peak of red and yellow banned rock – where they come across their friend Cheese Grater whose suffering from multiple stress fractures, and may need to come off-trail as a consequence. After a brief stop at a river passing down from the mountain, Molly and Ethan find a good camping spot among the forest just a few miles from Oregons highest point on the PCT.
Molly and Ethan wake to a mosquito soup in the air and, as a consequence, charge through the morning miles on their way to Crater Lake. Crater Lake has been high on their “sights to see” list and they are buzzing to have finally reached it. The trail cuts through burn areas whose skeletal trees are populated by woodpeckers and the air is alive with the hum of crickets. They reconvene with several friends at Mazama Village; Will, Audrey, Mike, Miles, Matt, Trouble and Cheeks, and enjoy a well-deserved lunch/dinner at a campsite resturant after achieving 20+ miles by early afternoon. Following a side trail, they proceed up to the Crater Lake Rim Walk through more clouds of mosquitos and are absolutely dazzled by the beauty of the lake. After a good rest admiring the view, our duo finds camp off-trail along the rim. Before heading to sleep they discuss recent warnings of Mountain Lion activity around their campsite.
A cheerful Ethan greets us this morning, but Molly is struggling with a blister on her foot that has required some intervention. Feeling better after ‘leeching’ it they head out into the green tunnel of the forest, plagued by swarms of mosquitos in the still, humid air. Water is a bit of an issue today, with 11 miles between each of the sources they plan to stop at. The day is overcast, so heat is less of a problem but the air is heavy. Eventually they emerge from the tunnel out onto a ridge where they have views across the wooded valleys and the breeze keeps the mozzies at bay. A final push up and over a hill gets them thinking about reaching the famous Crater Lake tomorrow with the opportunity of a restaurant stop in Mazama Village. Episode 115 of Trail & Errors 🙂
Although there was thunder rolling around overnight there wasn’t much rain to disturb their sleep, instead it was animal noises that spooked ‘Spook’ during the night. The morning sees them keen to get back to a normal on-trail routine away from the distractions of town. Deers greet them on the path, and it is cool and quiet in the forest as they approach Plumb Landing Camp where there is a tap and a flushing loo! It is a lovely setting with Hyatt Lake glinting through the trees. Moving on to South Brown Mountain Shelter, one of only 3 huts on the entire trail, they link up with some fellow Brits collecting water from the pump there. It is hot and dry, and the water sources are surprisingly sparse, so they collectively decide to push another 10 miles to the next one so that they can camp near water for cooking and the next morning’s routine. It’s a volcanic landscape they are in, with old lava flows spreading across the trail and down into the forests below. A graded red-rocked trail cuts across these boulder filled sections. Berries are beginning to bud, and Ethan is looking forward to the trail treats that they will eventually provide. Their feet hurt after this 29 mile day, but they bed down in good spirits after a full day on the PCT. Episode 114 of Trail & Errors… 🙂
A more regular start to the trail after their stressful departure from Ashland yesterday, they head out under a hot sky towards Pilot Rock. Molly soon discovers that you can’t breathe, eat, and walk simultaneously. Their calculations indicate that their current 25 mpd pace is sufficient as they head through Oregon proper, but having had the state line as a target for so long they need to re-establish their motivational goals for the next section. Oregon has a few ranches and tourist spots near the trail, but no big hiker-orientated supply points, so they have packed out 10 days worth of food and they feel the extra weight in their packs. Nearing the dramatic outline of Pilot Rock standing clear on a ridgeline Ethan is hopeful of spotting Peregrine Falcons, known to favour the high aspect of the rock overlooking the forested valleys below, and indeed when they get there they can see all the way back to Mt Shasta in the distance. Dragonflies abound during lunch, and after a break in a quiet meadow it is hot and dry on the trail and feels thunderous. Soon enough the clouds build and the storms threaten, but nothing dramatic results. They camp near the pretty Hyatt Lake, and think ahead to the dramatic Crater Lake that they will reach in a few days. A good day in trail in Episode 113 of Trail & Errors… 🙂
It’s Day 130, and after a well earned Zero in the super nice town of Ashland the guys are keen to get back on the trail. Beers at the Standing Stone Brewery, Thai food, socks, shorts, resupply logistics, shopping; it all takes ages, especially when the Wi-Fi in America is generally so rubbish everywhere, why is that??? Frustrating for Molly particularly, who gets easily frazzled and overwhelmed with the busy environment of the city. Luckily they have a local trail angel, Mike, who is at the ready to shuttle them around town as they undertake their various chores. Eventually they are ready to get to trail, and they give Mike as shout, however a slight miscalculation results in them being dropped 17 miles away from where they need to be, after driving an hour down a small forest road! Luckily, by our coincidence, they are rescued by Nellie’s parents who just happen to be collecting her there from the trail, and they get a lift an hour back where they came from and eventually rejoin the PCT near Callahan’s Lodge. However it is now 7.30pm, Molly has lost a sock, and Ashland will always be remembered for having the most stressful departing experience rather than for the excellent Zero day that they spent there. Tomorrow can only be better… Episode 112 of Trail & Errors.
It’s a town day, and after a month without a break the guys are looking forward to taking a couple of nights in a motel and having a Zero day tomorrow. There’s still 19 miles to go to get to Ashland, and it’s another hot one. Realising they’ve not washed their clothes for 400 miles they are keen to find a laundromat when they get there! They calculate that they have about 48-49 days left to complete the next two states, which is mad when it has taken them 127 days to get through California. They head up a steep climb before a long descent to Callahan’s Lodge at the I-5, from where they can hitch to Ashland. Halfway up the hill they get news of a waiting cooler full of sodas at the top; this news helps them finish the climb and they relax in the shade with a cool drink. Hearing the cars on the interstate as they near the road, they decide to have lunch at Callahan’s Lodge, and afterwards make contact with Eddie, a Trail Angel from Ashland, who comes and takes them into town. Checking in at the Ashland Motel they dump their bags, plan on a shower, a visit to Safeway, and a curry for dinner. Day 128 ends well, and Oregon so far is a pleasant experience. Episode 111 of Trail & Errors 🙂