Day 91: How Can I Miss You When You Won’t Go Away

Mile reached: 2019.9 (+36.2)

High: I got a hitch back up to McKenzie Pass fairly quickly and as a bonus got to ride in the backseat with a dog.

Low: Lava rocks and miles of burned forest made for trail miles that were tougher than they ought to be.

Begrudgingly, I woke up at 5:40 am, because Peter, the trail angel, was going to give us a lift to the bus station. I got my gear together while most everyone was still sleeping. “Gandalf” was the only one that joined me, and we caught the bus to Sisters where we parted ways. He was going to skip the next 17 miles, but I was going to return to the lava field…

In town I had made a sign to help with hitching, though I’m not sure it did much good. After a half hour of waiting, a father and daughter pulled over to give me a ride. He was going to the PCT as well, I just had to be ok with riding next to a dog. The dog was super sweet, and I spent most of the ride up the twisty highway hanging on to her to keep her from getting tossed around.

Once back on the trail, I was glad that it was still early in the morning. The lava fields were hot and the loose rocks made for tedious going. Even after I escaped the lava rocks, the trail was still hot. Almost all of the forest was burned, and so there was no shade.

Mount Washington
The only water in both directions for many miles
Yay!

After 17 miles, I arrived at Santiam Pass, which was where “Gandalf” and the others had gotten back on trail. Mercifully, I found trail magic and a beer, which I drank as I did the big climb in the sun out of the pass. For many miles the trail ran through burned forest, so it was quite hot. At least there were decent views of Three Fingered Jack.

Watermelon and beer definitely made my day.
The north side of Three Fingered Jack
Snow on the trail?!

In the evening, I reached a lake, which was crowded with section hikers. But, I needed water and stopped to make dinner. While I was eating, someone came in from the north that looked a little more trail hardened than a section hiker. It turned out that he was the first true SoBo that I’d met! (I later learned that I met the leading SoBo that morning going in from McKenzie Pass, but didn’t realize it.) We chatted for a little bit and traded stories. Despite similar objectives our experiences were already so different, and I was maybe just slightly jealous of the journey ahead of him.

Pringles

With the day quickly fading, I said goodbye and pushed on to camp at a viewpoint just south of Mount Jefferson. Two miles short of my goal, I heard someone announce, “Look who it is!” “Watson” and the crew were camped out hiding in their tents from a new species of mosquito. Apparently, they were having a rough day after the previous night’s activities, so they didn’t make that many miles. I hadn’t expected to see them again for days. Annoyed by the mosquitoes and certain that I would see them again the following day, I continued on and camped at my intended site.

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