I was first up this morning, no surprise as everyone else stayed up well past hiker midnight. I made my breakfast and was out of camp before the others were up, so excited to finally see Crater Lake! It’s only 2.5 miles to the rim, but it is straight uphill. It is usually a good start to the day though, getting thay blood pumping early. It was a straight shot through the woods, if you can call switchbacks a straight shot. Somehow it is.
I came out of the woods and up to the store by the lake. It was only 7:20 and they didn’t open until 9:00. I found some oatmeal cookies in the hiker box and began eating them when Sloe Jin walked up. We decided to go look at the lake and take some pictures together. While we were doing this we realized that the lodge had a dining room, so we went in for breakfast. It was a fancy dining room but the prices were surprisingly reasonable. I had a frittata, and he had an omelet. We both had nearly a pot of coffee. It’s hard to resist a bottomless cup!
After breakfast we sat on the patio overlooking the lake and enjoyed a latte to top off our tour d’caffeine. We still had hiking to do but agreed it would be nice to enjoy where we were for a little while. There is no sense in rushing past this treasure. I wrote some postcards and got my blog up to date, sitting leisurely in a cushioned armchair overlooking the lake. It is such a luxury, an armchair, that it is hard to remove oneself from one. I sat for nearly 2 hours and then accepted the fact that I had to go. It would be a lovely walk on the rim of Crater Lake, one I’ve looked forward to for a long time. I said goodbye to Sloe Jin and walked onward to Canada.
The hike went up and over several bluffs each time descending into a parking area full of tourists. Everyone getting out of their car to take the picture to say they were there. Everyone getting back in the car to get lunch at a restaurant, or drive back to wherever they came from. They all had someplace to go after getting in and out of the car at Crater Lake. I was the only hiker around feeling so out of place in their bustling worlds. I hiked a couple of miles out and found a spot on a cliff to enjoy a break. I had found a cinnamon roll in the hiker box, and ate that while feeling like the only soul at Crater Lake for a brief time. Then before long, the trail cut north, away from the lake. I started heading towards Mt. Thielson, 27 miles away, and the location of the next water. I was already fumbling under the extra 11 pounds of water I was carrying, and it definitely slowed me down.
I took a few indulgent breaks in the afternoon. My back muscles were on fire, and I just can’t seem to remember how I did this daily back in the desert. 5 liters was normal back then, and I don’t remember this much shoulder pain. I guess I’ve gone soft. My goal was to walk 16 miles to a spot not far from the water. I’d have to walk until 8:30, but it would get me close to water by morning. There was a rumbling in the sky, but with trees all around I couldn’t see where the storm was heading. I only had 2 miles to go, but within 1/2 mile I could see that the storm was big, fast and headed straight for me. I scanned the forest floor for a good tent spot as thunder crashed and rolled practically right over my head (it was frighteningly loud!). There was a spot right off trail that had been cleared, so I quickly put up my shelter and jumped in. Just as I was in my tent and sitting with the rain fly open lightning lit up the forest. I zipped up my tent door and grounded myself on my foam pad, my heart racing in my chest. Lightning kept flashing, thunder kept roaring, and I sat leaning against my backpack counting the seconds to measure distance. It was quite a storm, and I had gotten myself in my tent just in the knick of time!
In my tent I studied the maps to see how this would effect my miles over the next few days. As it turns out, I’m due to arrive in Shelter Cove a day before my resupply box. This gives me an extra day to take my time, and I planned the next 2 days accordingly. I’ll only have to do two 22 milers and an 11 to get there, and it looks like there is some prime lake camping for both nights. Less miles means more time in camp to enjoy the lakes, and an easier time on my body. Works perfectly for me! No need to hurry for the next couple of days…and that feels great. As I put the maps away, satisfied with my new easy plan the thunder has grown more and more distant, and I’ve grown sleepy. Goodnight.