I had rarely been so late out of the bat as today, but I didn’t want to feel tired all day and I still had to write my diary/blog entry from yesterday, so it was past 8:30 when I took my first step on the trail today.
The smoke had actually come back a bit today, though it wasn’t that thick. I could still see the outline of South Sister, the mountain I saw first time yesterday but shortly after the Middle Sister came into view and the North Sister just peaked up over some smaller mountains in front of it. None of them showed the splendor that I experienced yesterday, though. This was in part due to the smoke and in part due to the sun not being in the right spot. They were still impressive though with their huge size.
A bit later I unexpectedly med Irish again, as he had gone into Elk Lake Resort and camped at the spot that I had skipped quite late in the evening, but still had gotten up early. It was kind of opposite day, as he was the one getting up early and I was the one hiking quickly. We had lunch near a waterfall in “Obsidian Limited Access Area”, which in addition to the waterfall had a lot of the namesake rock. I thought it kind of looked like flint but more reflective and glassy. Apparently, obsidian is a volcanic glass whereas flint is a sedimentary rock. It was only a mile or so, but looked kind of cool. I was taking a lot of pictures so Irish went ahead of me. There were actually a lot of southbound through hikers “SOBOs”, as if we had hit their bubble. This meant that information travelled up and down the trail. I asked some hikers how much snow was In Washington, which I had worried a bit about. They said nearly none, so that was nice. There was also rumors of trail magic up ahead from the SOBOs.
Also, a SOBO asked if there were more lava fields ahead, but as I had not crossed any volcanic fields, there weren’t. I would however soon find out why she would be so keen on knowing that as the trail passed a volcanic section. It was somewhat similar to the time before Crater Lake, where there were like rivers of volcanic rock, except here it was a sea stretching for miles in either direction. It was a quite unique scenery. First it was red or black rock with trees intermittently popping up. It was a bit steep, hot, and not that pleasant to walk on due to the many rocks on the trail. The trail went back to normal some miles later and I met Irish again at the last water source before a dry stretch. We then wen a short stretch to a paved road where there supposedly was trail magic, but instead some people were doing kind of a photo shoot. Irish said that it was a bummer because it would have been so nice with a cold coke. A quarter of a mile later, however, we bumped into where the trail magic really had been. It was gone but they had left behind cold sodas and beers, which was super nice. I had a Dr. Pepper and we walked on into a new sea of volcanic rock. It was extensive, more or less all black and only occasionally would a plant or pine pop up. Often it was scattered rocks but at other places it was longer flowing massive rocks so you could see how the lava had been flowing. As for the stretches with just scattered rocks, I had been wondering for a while how deep the hollow space between the rocks went. How deep would water go if you poured it down there? Fifty feet? Five hundred feet?
Irish went ahead as he was much quicker than me as I were going quite slowly. I really had to take every step carefully as my shoes were so worn out that it would otherwise be painful. The cushioning was completely gone. It was actually much easier walking without trekking poles here, for some reason. I was too lazy to pack them away, though, so I just carried them in my one hand. It had gotten quite late and there still was some way to go and the going was slow. I had my dinner break and that really got my energy levels back and I was apparently past the last volcanic rock fields. Thus I halfway ran the last part in the dark. Around ten pm I met Irish again, who had camped next to a SOBO. I also camped there.
This days miles: 1962-1991