Date: August 23, 2017
Miles: No trail miles.
Health: Frustrated but healthy.
I wake up to the sound of a truck driving by. I slept pretty well considering how close to the road we camped. We slowly pack our backpacks, take out some bars for breakfast and move to the side of the road. It’s still early and there’s not much traffic so we are in no hurry.
We figure out which way we need to hitch, set our packs down so that they are visible to the passing cars, and then throw out our thumbs. There’s not much traffic going by so we spend most of the time talking and taking photos.
None of the cars going our way are stopping. It’s still pretty early in the morning and two dirty guys standing next to small dirt road aren’t exactly screaming “pick us up”. We’re too far from the PCT for anyone driving by to know why we are here so our chances of getting a ride are pretty slim.
As we have no luck with hitching, we decide to walk. It would take us roughly two days to walk along the roads to Crater Lake so getting a ride would be a real blessing.
We walk along the road and dodge the oncoming traffic as there’s not much of a shoulder to walk on. Whenever there’s a car going our way we put our thumbs up but get no takers. We’re dirty and covered in dust, surrounded by fields of cows. I don’t see anyone picking us up any time soon.
After a couple of hours of walking, we stop at a small crossing and put our packs down. Finally, after 3 hours of trying to get a ride, a German couple turns around after passing us once and picks us up. They are on a US road trip and decided to take pity on us after passing us by. They happen to be going to Crater Lake too, so we’re going in the same direction. We thank them immensely for the ride and sigh in relief not having to spend the two days road walking.
After a few hours drive, we get dropped off at Mazama Village, which is right below Crater Lake. We thank the couple for the ride and as they head up towards the lake, we stay down at the village to take care of our resupplies.
Before getting our resupply packages we hit the restaurant and order some burgers. While we wait for our food to arrive we find a place to recharge our electronics. My new charger is extremely slow. It’s actually so slow that it would take forever to fill up my battery bank so I have to order a better one soon.
After finishing our burgers we’re both still hungry so we order pizzas as well. One of the great things about hiker hunger is that you’re like a bottomless eating machine. How often can you finish two meals on one go and feel good about it?
While eating we see two familiar hikers – Indigo and LL. The last time I saw them was in Sonora Pass and it’s so great to see them again. It’s funny because Sam has heard me tell all these stories about them, but he’s actually never met the girls in person.
While we’re catching up on all the stories since we last met we see another familiar figure enter the restaurant. It’s Topo! I can’t remember the last time I saw him. It’s like a big get together and I couldn’t be happier!
After everyone has eaten we head back outside and go pick our resupply packages from the post office out back. For the next few hours, we hang around, sorting out our resupplies, and catching up. Soon Happy Feet, Blis, and Blis’s wife Meg join us too. The party keeps getting better and better.
Blis’s wife Meg is driving further north to cache some water for us for a long dry section of the trail. Happy Feet is going along with her as he’s skipping north to the Oregon–Washington border to get ahead of all the fires. This makes a lot of sense as we’re all getting really tired of hiking in the smoke day in, day out. Not only does it make hiking boring, but we’re also all getting worried about the health factors of breathing all the smoke for long periods of time.
After all the logistics are done, it’s time to continue with the hike. Our plan for today is to hike the short hike up to the crater so that we can watch the sunrise on the rim tomorrow morning. Slowly we get our gear together and head back on the trail.
We climb the trail up to the rim and find a nice camp spot 0.2 miles from the lake. We get to the camp just as it gets dark and set up our shelters on soft ground. We’re so close to the crater that we can use all the facilities at the tourist center close by. Running water and real toilets – luxury!
Our camp is filled with laughter, jokes, and stories. It's so great to be hiking with a big group of friends again!