Hi, my name is Isko Salminen.
I'm an adventure seeker and I love exploring nature with my camera and Australian Shepherd called Fire

Day 114: The one with the eclipse

Date: August 21, 2017
Miles: 29.7 miles (47.8km), from mile 1,752.8 to Christi's Spring at mile 1,782.4.
Health: Need more sleep.

It’s cold when we wake up in the morning and we have to wear our jackets. No-one else is up yet which is strange as everyone was already sleeping when we got here early last night. We fill our bottles from the water source, find our way back to the trail and start walking.

Getting ready to leave.

Our morning water source.

The trail goes through a forest and stays cool until the sun comes up and the temperature starts rising again. In the middle of our conversation, Sam suddenly curses out loud – his backpack has failed yet again. It’s the load lifters. Again. We stop to the side of the trail so Sam can fix his pack. This is something that happens every few days. If it’s not the load lifters, it’s the frame, or hip belt, or something else. Definitely not a good advertisement for Zpacks.

Morning walk through the woods.

While Sam is fixing his pack I head off little further from the trail to take care of some paper business. While digging a hole I notice we’re right next to a forest road. Looking at the map I see the trail wiggles along the road for a long time, basically going right next to it. As the trail is rather boring and slow, we decide to walk on the straight forest road. This way we don’t have to do all the unnecessary loops and wiggles the trail does. The road is also easier to walk on than the narrow trail, allowing us to walk side by side, making talking to each other easier.

Sam fixing his backpack.

Today is kind of a special day as there’s a total solar eclipse happening in a few hours. While the path of the total eclipse is over a hundred miles north, we’re still pretty close to the path. The issue is, we’re currently in a thick forest with barely any view of the sky. Not wanting to miss the eclipse we start hauling ass hoping to either find an open area or reach the next highway hoping to have a view of the eclipse.

With no open areas with a good view of the sky, we make it to the road with only minutes to spare. We take out the eclipse glasses we got a few days earlier and sit next to the road waiting.

As nothing happens I decide to use the time to eat. All of a sudden we notice it’s really quiet and the air gets chillier. Looking around it’s also getting darker – the eclipse has started!

We get back on the road with our glasses and marvel at the sight. We’ve heard the news that the areas on the path of the total eclipse are overcrowded and full of people. We have the entire road to ourselves and there’s not a soul in sight. It’s actually strangely silent as there are no cars on the road and even the birds have gone silent.

Info about the trail closures ahead.

Once the eclipse is over we get back on the trail. There’s a news flyer telling about the fires around Crater Lake and the surrounding areas. It seems most of the PCT in Oregon is on fire and we might not be able to make it all the way to Crater Lake due to trail closure.

Filtering water from a cache for a dry section.

After some time in the forest, we get out and the trail transforms into volcanic rock. While not as bad as what Oregon has coming up, it’s still bad enough and really hurts to walk on. And as we’re not in the shade of the forest anymore, the temperature rises again. I have to stop to recover and get some electrolytes.

I’m not feeling this part at all. At one point I accidentally kick a stick between my feet and the stick rips through my shoe and punches straight to the bones on the side of my feet. I feel like I’m completely done. I’m tired, I’m hot, my shoe’s torn up, my feet hurt, and the trail feels like it’s winning. Being alone in the middle of all this volcanic rock that hurts my feet is the icing on the cake. I have a small meltdown.

Finally, the volcanic rock ends and I reach a road and find Sam sitting in the trees next to a stream on the other side. I curse and vent for a while and Sam just laughs at me. The trail breaks us all at different times, and in different ways, and having someone there to laugh at you and to remind you that it’s going to be okay is crucial.

After steaming for a little while and getting all the frustration out of my system I sit down and have lunch. I’m feeling better already.

Sam’s feet.

My feet.

While eating I notice Sam’s feet are looking pretty bad. Mine are just dirty but his feet are pretty torn up. I investigate the damage from the stick and it seems the only damage is the gaping hole on the side of my shoe and a little soreness around the point of impact.

We soon get up and get some water from the stream before getting back on the trail. The rest of the day we follow the trail in a forest with not much to see – it’s like walking in a green tunnel. We make it to camp just after dark and set up camp. It’s getting dark earlier and earlier each day and I can’t help but to think of the approaching winter and how far we still have to walk to reach the Canadian border.