Miles: 30!!!!
Camping: PCT mile 2071.47

There is something in the glow of a high alpine sunrise that fills me with a sense of great hope for the day ahead. The orange light takes over the landscape, casting long shadows that seem to be stretching their post sleep muscles along with me. I rise and greet the day confident already that things will begin to improve today. There was a small store at Olallie Lake that I planned to hit around lunchtime and then my plan was to see how far I could go. The more miles I do today, the better. It’s just one of those days.

I hit the trail at 7am and immediately ran into Pirate Bait and Pisa. We had a big climb to do first thing, but it was only 2 miles and the rest of the day has been forecast as easy terrain. The three of us set our own paces, and I watched as the distance between me and Mt. Jefferson started to grow larger. I was soon on a pass looking north. I caught a glimpse of Mt. Hood and it was clear enough to see all of the way to Mt. Adams and Mt. St. Helens in Washington. We could see Washington today, which is a gentle reminder that it is imminent, as is the end of all this. Mt. Hood is my home base. I backpack there every summer, I look for its trusty presence on every clear day in Portland, I snowboard and snowshoe there in the winter, and generally have a great affinity for it as a mountain. Seeing Mt. Hood today sent a wave of emotion through me. I had practically walked home, and it feels like a great accomplishment.

From there on out I practically floated on a cloud for the 10 miles to Olallie Lake. It was a beautiful Oregon morning, the time of day when the day seems perfect. It’s a special balance of sunlight and shadow, one unique to places with big tall mossy trees. There were also so many blueberries and huckleberries along the way I couldn’t stop eating them, and I stained my mouth and fingers blue. They were so delicious, and I imagine contributed to my energy boost this morning. Once I got to Olallie Lake I was ready to treat myself to something. They didn’t have a restaurant as I had hoped so I had to get creative. I looked around the store and settled on a can of chicken salad with crackers, a bag of cheetos and a vanilla milk. I never drink milk, but I wanted ice cream and they didn’t have any. Vanilla milk was the closest thing.

I ate my food on the porch with Birdbath and Stomper, staring out over the lake. Stomper showed us pictures of his woodwork back home, he’s very talented! I went back for a cup of coffee and enjoyed that on the porch as well. Once I started to feel too luxurious about my use of time I began my hike out with the first glimpses of the idea that I might actually do 30 miles today. I felt really good and figured it was my last chance to give it a shot. The afternoon seemed to go on, and the miles seemed to melt away. I was in tree cover all afternoon, so I let my mind wander while I kept a steady pace. Before long I was 20 miles, then 25, then I just knew it would happen and it did. The last couple of miles were hard but not unbearable. It’s like something took over and I went into auto pilot, proud and pained all at once.

By the time I reached camp I was ready to collapse, and it felt so good! I set up my tent as minimally as possible (no rain fly and unstaked), crawled in and laid down. It felt good to be that tired. It felt so, so, very good.

Olallie Lake and Mt. Jefferson