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