Section D of the Pacific Crest Trail

I was so excited to start this leg of the PCT it was hard to get to sleep Wednesday night.  I woke up at 0530 and started making my way towards HWY 58 where I would meet Dawna.  We then had to drive another hour to the trailhead at the North Rim of Crater Lake.  On our way we saw a man standing on the side of the road with his bug net on.  That was my first reality check. 


It was a warm day when we started and we chose to hike 10 miles to the base of Mt. Thielsen and set up camp.  The bug net was a necessity for this portion of the trail. There were so many trees across the trail.  I’ve never actually hiked on the trail when it was blocked by trees and other items.  We did a lot of navigating before we reached our destination.  We saw only one other hiker on the trail that day.  A lady who had stopped at the road to make herself from food.  She gave us a warning, “Be careful, there is a lot of ice on the other side of the mountain.”  I have never backpacked across snow, ice and glaciers, so this was my second reality check.  We were prepared however and had brought micro spikes.

The moon rose up over my tent the first night, reminding me of my love for the trail.  We woke up the next morning feeling good and ready to hike up Mt. Thielsen.  We met other thru and day hikers along the trail our second day.  Mt. Thielsen was beautiful. There was a lot of snow and ice to cross over and I had to face my fears.  We took a break at a stream with a group of hikers, filling up our water and having a snack.



We hiked around Cowhorn Mountain which was a beautiful view from the trail.


The third night we hiked down to a “small” campsite identified on the Halfmile PCT app.  There was already a tent pitched in the site which could have accommodated a few tents (hiker trash style).  The hikers were sleeping and we chose to camp just beyond their campsite.  The mosquitoes were thick and I had numerous bites trying to set up my tent.  I felt sick to my stomach and was shivering.  After a few hours I fell asleep with some Vitamin I in my system.  We were in a hurry to set up our tents before we were devoured so we didn’t pay much attention to the cording wrapped around a nearby tree.  I pointed it out to Dawna and we pondered it only a minute.  As we lay in our tents, feeling accomplished and half-eaten, Dawna noticed that cord was actually a bear bag hanging above our tents.  We were too tired to move and were sleeping with our food in our tents anyway.  We laughed and let it go.  After all, my name is Bear Bait right?

We met two section hikers, “Old Geezer and Mosquito Bait” who were completing sections of the PCT together.  We took turns passing each other that day, over the glacier at Diamond Peak and well into the afternoon sun. They were great company and we spent the afternoon taking a break in their amazing campsite.  We had to push on because we didn’t want to have many miles on the last day as we still had a drive.

 The last night we hiked to a lake where we we’re excited to be the only hikers in the area.  We had a beautiful campsite but he mosquitoes were everywhere. We didn’t see any wildlife at the lake but did hear some birds.  After dinner we lay in our tents taking a break from those irritating mosquitoes.  Around 1230 AM I heard thunder rumbling across the sky.  It was quickly followed by some lightening.  From my tent, I said “Dawna?” and she let me know she heard it too.  I worried that I hadn’t set up my tent for a rainstorm and also didn’t want to get struck by lightening at our now less than perfect campsite.  I straightened out the bathtub bottom of my tent and hoped for the best.  After about an hour of thunder and lightening it started to move away and a quiet soft rain started to fall on my tent.  The next thing I knew it was morning and our last day on the trail.


I made some coffee and oatmeal and prepared to hike the last 6 miles out of woods to my car where I had left it.  It was still raining.  The view of Lake O’Dell is stunning and I was a bit sad that we couldn’t continue on the trail a few more days.
 

This was a beautiful section of the Pacific Crest Trail with views of mountains, lakes and ponds.  There were wildflowers, mushrooms and lily’s in the ponds.  My most used piece of gear was my bug net.
 

Our next hike is planned for September in Washington!  I might carry a different tent on that portion.  Happy Trails!  Bear Bait.

Oregon Section D Crater Lake to Shelter Cove

I’ve been hiking all summer, hitting on all the peaks around the Columbia River Gorge.  OR offers beautiful hiking throughout the Spring in the Gorge and then all of the summer on Mt. Hood.

I’m preparing to hike a section of the trail from Crater Lake to Shelter Cove.  I’ve hiked all around Crater Lake and stayed at the campground, but I have never backpacked North of the Crater.  It sounds like there is still snow on Mt. Thielsen and Diamond Peak. This area is known to have a lot of mosquitoes.

I will cross the highest point in Oregon on the PCT. I’m anticipating magnificent views from the trail.

My last backpacking trip was with my friend Dawna when we hiked from Timberline Lodge to Cascade Locks last September.  It will be both exciting and difficult to put on my backpack again. Dawna and I will be hiking this leg together.  I love hiking with Dawna because it’s like having my own private guide of the wilderness areas.

I will post pictures after the trip.  It’s about 70 miles in 5 days. I can’t wait to hit the trail. Ever since I started my hike in 2015 on the PCT it’s all I can think about.

Bear Bait

Timberline Lodge to Cascade Locks 2107-2155

Timberline Lodge

On September 18th, I met my friend Dawna at Timberline Lodge to hike the last section of the PCT in OR with her.  We had planned to hike the OR and WA section together, but life had other plans. While I was off the trail, she hiked the OR section as a solo hiker.  It was only fitting that we would finish this part of the trek together.

There were a lot of thru-hikers at Timberline Lodge enjoying the buffet and resting their feet.  We didn’t stay long as we had about 50 hours to hike 50 miles.  It was familiar and amazing to get my pack back on my back and get out on the trail again.  I had a teaser many weeks earlier when my friend Forrest hiked thru and I joined him on this section for some day hiking.  It just left a desire to get back out on the trail to do some backpacking.

Dawna and I have hiked together many times, so we fell in step easily. Catching up on life off the trail and then comfortably walking in silence.

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There had been some recent snow on Mt. Hood so the views were stunning.  We cherished our moments in nature and let the healing begin.

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The first night we camped near Lolo Pass.  The sunset was magnificent!  We shared a campsite with some other backpackers (not thru hikers) who kept to themselves mostly and definitely weren’t the hiker trash I’d been used to in California.  Hours later however I could hear the calls as the thru-hikers rolled in, imitating animal sounds in an effort to locate each other for the night.  I was able to meet some of these amazing hikers and reconnect.

Early the next morning I made some coffee and set out with Dawna for our longest day on the trail.

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As we walked along the trail we decided to stay on the PCT and skip the Eagle Creek Bypass.   We have both hiked that area before so it wasn’t a difficult decision, although it is a beautiful area.  We had the PCT to ourselves once we passed the bypass.

We did take the Ramona Falls Bypass however during this hike.  It was a magical fairy like place.  As we hiked along the mossy green trail next to the creek. I felt so content.

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Saturday we had been discussing how nice it would be to soak our feet in Wahtum Lake. Curiously however as we neared the lake a lost hiker approached us for assistance in finding her way back to her car.  After we helped her find her way, we realized we had already climbed away from the lake, our foot soaks and our water supply.  We decided to press on.  We camped that night by ourselves an in area known for bear activity.  I was sleeping peacefully when I heard a loud crash.  I wasn’t sure if it was a tree falling or a bear running through the camp, but after about five times calling Dawna’s name, she was up and hollering at whatever it was.  With a name like Bear Bait you can never be to careful.  We spent some time talking ourselves back to sleep.

We had another amazing sunset from our campsite.

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The Benson Plateau was actually quite different than the rest of the trail and I enjoyed it’s grasses and abundance of trees.  We stopped for breakfast at TeaKettle Springs where I nearly set the forest on fire.  It was on the hillside coming down near the gorge.  I set my jet boil up with a rock to balance and it tipped over and caught fire.  I couldn’t reach the switch and tried to push it towards the water source which was not very big.  Dawna was able to turn it off and I felt my stomach in my throat.  I’ll never do that again.  Here’s a picture of the spring.

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Later we enjoyed a snack and conversation with a couple we met while coming down the trail.  Ron and Linda shared a love for the trail and we were easily engaged in friendly conversation.  Later as we enjoyed some food from the Eastwind Drive in at Cascade Locks, they stopped and offered me a ride back to Portland.  Trail Angels!

It was an amazing weekend and more amazing to spend it with Dawna.  We share a love for the trail and all the amazing connections that happen while on the trail.  I’m hoping to hike WA this summer and I’ll blog when I do.

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Happy Trails!  Bear Bait

Until next time……

For all who have been following my blog, I am off trail.  I made it about 700 miles, but life has other plans for me and I must climb some mountains on this side of the trail.

I plan to do some sections when I can, and will continue to blog as I do.  It’s truly been an amazing experience and I have met so many wonderful people.

I will try to upload some of my photos to date from my camera.

Happy Trails,

Bear Bait

Our Hidden Selves Revealed

“Men go back to the mountains, as they go back to sailing ships at sea, because in the mountains and on the sea they must face up, as did men of another age, to the challenge of nature. Modern man lives in a highly synthetic kind of existence. He specializes in this and that.  Rarely does he test all his powers or find himself whole. But in the hills and on the water the character of a man comes out.” – Abram T Collier.

This stretch of the trail was highly challenging with the lack of water and the extreme temperatures.  Every other day shifted from high desert forests to barren desert covered with Joshua Trees.  The necessity of survival depended on hiking from water source to water source, carrying up to 6 liters of water and preserving energy as much as possible for hiking during the morning and evening hours. Every decision was crucial for survival.

They say that the trail provides and it certainly did this time.  I was lucky to be hiking with Shutterbug on this section of the trail.  There were about 30 of us hiking “together” on this section.  Shutterbug’s father left us a water cache at mile 615 and 630.  Without this water we would have had almost a 43 mile stretch of questionable water sources or none at all.

I received some trail magic around mile 615 where I met two wonderful trail angels who were waiting with an ice chest of cold soda and fried chicken.  Shutterbug’s father also had fresh gala apples for us.  We sat in the lawn chairs enjoying our trail magic and the pleasures and kindness of these total strangers.  The sun was starting to set and the moment was sweet.  I still had 5 miles to hike so I pressed on.

I nearly stepped on a rattlesnake on this stretch and he let me know very quickly he was there. I heard his rattle and saw him slithering between my feet as I jumped quckly into the air.  I ran into another rattlesnake not even 20 miles down the trail.  I also saw a deer and many cattle on this stretch.

The days were long and difficult and it was pure determination that pushed me up those mountains and through the desert valleys.  I believe we had an overall elevation gain during this section of about 31,000 feet.

One morning in particular I hiked 1500 feet up a mountain side to be rewarded with a spectacular sunrise while I ate granola mixed with Nido (dry milk powder) out of a ziplock baggie.  Life is beautiful and amazing and without that climb I would have missed that view.

This section I learned something about myself and others.  Backpacking is not just about physical strength or being an expert athlete.  It’s about the determination and motivation to experience something new, regardless of the difficulty.  The desire to be on the Pacific Crest Trail. It’s about making myself do what I don’t want to do when things are tough. Building my confidence, strength and inner character.

Happy Trails, Bear Bait