Pacific Crest Trail

Speaking of the Devil and also a sister

Day 102

It was another cold morning, which like the others recently served as a reminder that, for better or worse, this is eventually going to end. Both the summer heat and the Pacific Crest Trail when we get further north. Much is still left to be experienced, I hope.

Irish and I had been discussing whether we would get condensation by camping near the lakes, I said we would, and unfortunately I was right. It wasn’t terrible, though, my sleeping bag was slightly damp and my tent a bit wet.

I got going just before dawn into landscapes highly similar to those of yesterday. That is, much dense pine forest and a lot of lakes and ponds. It more or less stayed like that throughout the day, so the scenery wasn’t very interesting and it was too cold to go swimming.

While I had my first midday break, Irish passed me despite the fact that he hadn’t even started getting up when I left camp, so he is hiking pretty quickly. I didn’t meet any other northbound hikers, so we were still in this kind of vacuum. There were a bunch of southbound section and day hikers on foot or by horse. One of them asked if I was through hiking and if it had been hard. I said no, as it was just a matter of taking it one day at a time, but I later regretted that answer. There certainly has been some pretty tough days, but those have been the exception and not the norm.

There was a resort three miles off trail, which I had decided to skip as I thought that I had enjoyed a lot of nice food recently and my soft drink or ice cream cravings weren’t there. Just before the side trail leading to the resort, however, I saw a man sitting at a log next to the trail, a man I had thought I should never see again. I didn’t recognize him until I got pretty close because he was wearing a cap and wasn’t next to his camper. It was CopperTone! Weird that we spoke about him just yesterday and then he appeared again just the next day . He had hiked a bit into the trail and had carried some sweets and bananas with him, which he offered and from which I got a banana and a chocolate glazed donut. He said that he usually tried to keep up with the same group of people so that he could follow them throughout their hike. Many people were skipping large sections of Oregon and Northern California to avoid the smoke, which apparently had worsened or to reach Cascade Locks in time for PCT days, which is kind of a meet up between former, present, and future hikers and outdoor vendors. I am probably not going to attend as I would have to take a bunch of zeros, and the bubble of people it would subsequently create on trail and towns would also be preferable to avoid. Anyways, he said that I must have been doing long miles to be here right now without having skipped anything. We talked about this and that and also about returning to real life, where I will just return to being a doctor. He said he had met a doctor who shared a practice with another doctor and they took turns taking six months off to travel and relax. I said that sounded like a really neat deal, and that I thought it was sad that the customary vacations here in the US were so short compared to much of Europe. He said, with a hint of regret in his voice, I think, that he had never been to Europe but would like to visit. I said that I thought Europeans and Americans were pretty similar and that it would be places like Japan and Peru (where I knew that he had been a missionary) that you would need to go to experience truly different cultures. He said that he had been considering hiking the trail again, but had more or less reached the conclusion that he had gotten too old, with him turning seventy this year. At least he somewhat got to experience it through us hikers that he met. I told him that it had been a real pleasure to meet him again and was about to leave when he saw my leg and asked how I got that terrible wound. I told him, but didn’t think it was terrible. It has gotten better and better, with only a small part of it being covered by a scrap and the rest being reddish/purple new skin that just will take some time to regain its normal color.

I hiked on a bit and the trail started to ascend and gave some interesting views of a mountain in the distant between the trees. I had dinner a bit later near a lake bathed in golden sunlight as the sun was getting somewhat low in the sky. While the scenery was nice, tons of mosquitoes, well not literally tons, but a lot, eventually turned up and I was spending half of my time eating and half of my time swapping mozzies. I hiked on, still in good spirits but was getting a tad tired.

This is kind of where I thought that the day would be over. I would walk a short stretch, set up camp and go to bed. That wasn’t what was in store. The camp site I had had in mind since the morning was overlooking a large meadow-like landscape with the large mountain in the back. It was kind of windy, but more importantly a large dead tree was overlooking it and leaning towards it, so there was no way I was going to camp there. I therefore walked on and was taken into the enormous meadow-like area , which wasn’t covered with grass, but instead had small plants and flowers in various colors here and there, which incompletely covered the dirt. I hadn’t seen a landscape like that before. It was fenced off by large pines and stretched on for over a mile. On part of the right side was a steep rock wall where huge rocks had broken off and rolled down. In the background was the aforementioned mountain as a looming giant and fortuitously it was beautifully lit right at that hour by the sinking sun. I found out it was the “South Sister“ of the “Three Sisters” by looking at my map. It was getting a bit chilly and windy, and I was standing in the middle of it all completely alone for miles in either direction and utterly minuscule in size. I sensed the truly enormous scale of it all, which I wouldn’t if it had just been a mountain without the rockfall and meadow, which made me feel vulnerable and insignificant, but at the same time it was incredibly beautiful. Beautiful and scary. I had not known that this was coming and it really moved me. It somewhat reminded me of when I camped at the foot of Mather Pass. I hiked on and as the trail turned west I was treated to a sunset with the sun just sinking the last stretch until it vanished under the horizon. Before it got completely dark I made it to a nice camp site in the vicinity of a steam. I set up my tent and Somewhat after that a deer went by and hung around for a while, but luckily no other animals went by in the night to disturb my sleep.

This days miles: 1931-1962

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