Date: August 26, 2017
I wake up later than usual as I only have a short hike to the Shelter Cove Resort where I’m meeting up with the others. I’m quickly out of camp as I’m planning to make it to the resort for breakfast. Using Halfmile’s app I get back on the trail and keep on hiking.
The trail goes by a horse camp and as I spot a pit toilet I do a quick stop to get some morning business done. After I’m finished I get back on the trail. Soon the trail crosses a short dirt path. I see a little, unused footpath leading to the left and the trail leading to the right.
The footpath leading to the left is too small to be the OST but I keep my eye on the Halfmile app to make sure I’m not getting on the wrong trail. After about a half a mile the app still says I’m on the trail so I’m happy and put the phone away.
The trail keeps following along the Crescent Lake and keeps turning to the east. I’m fairly certain I should be going to the west so I take out my phone to double-check. Halfmile’s app still says I’m on the trail but something feels off. I keep walking but I can’t help feeling like I’m going in the wrong direction.
Soon the trail gets right next to a paved road and I get a little bit of cell signal. I manage to download just enough map tiles to confirm I’m heading in the wrong direction. I restart Halfmile’s app and now it’s telling me I’m over two miles off-trail – great!
Looking at the map there’s a mountain between me and the OST. Not wanting to backtrack all the way back I decide to do a short road walk to the bigger road and hitch a ride to Highway 58 and to hitch from there to Odell Lake from where I should be able to walk to the resort.
As it’s early in the morning and I’m on a small forest road, there aren’t any cars going to my direction and I end up walking all the way to a bigger road. Finally, I get a hitch on a bed of a truck to Highway 58. As I’m getting dropped off at the intersection I realize this might have been a bad idea. Not only do I look very out of place here, but it also doesn’t look like a spot anyone would pick up a dirty guy in short shorts and a backpack.
But before hitching, I need to get some food so I head into one of the roadside diners for a late breakfast. My thru-hiker uniform (tiny shorts, shirt, and a backpack) and dirty appearance get some funny looks from the denim glad truckers so I make sure to answer as loudly as I can when the waitress asks me what I’m doing here. After hearing what I’m doing, I have some nice conversations about the trail with the other occupants.
I try to clean myself up in the bathroom and get out to try hitch a ride. After over an hour of no takers, I start to get desperate. Realizing I might not get a ride to the resort, and feeling really shitty about the entire morning, I decide to try to get away from the highway and see if I can get a ride to the next location – Elk Lake Resort.
I roadwork along the highway for about 3 miles (4.8km) to an intersection and in a couple of minutes I get a ride. Not only do I get a ride but Christopher, an avid hiker, is on his way to pick up his girlfriend – a PCT hiker – from Elk Lake Resort.
There’s a fire closure which has closed the trail from Elk Lake forward all through the Three Sister Wilderness – one of the highlights of the Oregon section of the PCT. My plan is to wait for the others at Elk Lake and then hitch with them to Bend.
When we get to Elk Lake Resort I get my stuff and step out but I’m immediately told to get back in and that we’re going straight to Bend. Pipes, Christopher’s girlfriend, tells me to hop on and before I have time to think we’re all heading to Bend.
I send out some messages and learn that Dandy, Fireant, Roller, and Roadrunner are in Bend. While this day has been a disaster so far regarding hiking, at least I get to see these guys! I send Sam a message briefly telling him I got lost, ended up getting a ride all the way to Bend, and that I’d wait for them there.
Once in Bend, I get dropped off where everyone is eating and soon we’re reunited. Rest of the day is spent eating, getting a motel, and enjoying many of the breweries in Bend.
In hindsight, this day was a chain of poorly made decisions by me – made worse by being tired and the decision to not eat breakfast. Luckily I was close to the civilization and all it cost me was missing about 46 trail miles (74km), some pointless road walking and bruises to my ego.