Mile reached: 1839.2 (+5.0 + 11.0 alternate)
High: Spending much of the day with “Gandalf” and his trail family
Low: The smoke blew in during the afternoon obscuring views into the crater.
Waking up a little after 5, I discovered that it was really cold. It was easily the coldest it had been since the Sierra. However, I only had 3 miles to go to Mazama Village, so I just hiked quickly. It was great to get to the parking lot, grab some chocolate milk, and sit in the sun on the curb. Though it was mildly infuriating when some RV parked right in front of me blocking my sun despite numerous alternative parking spots.
“Gandalf” and friends were taking a while to show up, so I got to enjoy the sunlight for some time. At some point a woman recognized that I must be doing the PCT and wanted to do something for me. Unfortunately, I don’t drink coffee, so I graciously refused her offer. But, she insisted, and we settled on tea instead. By mid-morning, “Gandalf” and friends appeared, and we spent a long time getting logistics sorted out.
Eventually, after some heated debate we agreed on having lunch at the nearby cafe rather than take the trolley up to the rim of Crater Lake. Tragically, there wasn’t a fry cook at the restaurant, so the options were limited. But, I was able to talk the waitress into letting us sub a trip to the salad bar for the french fries our burgers were supposed to have. We, of course, piled our salads high with toppings!
Everyone else hitched up to the rim, but I had to hike up in the heat to maintain my continuous footpath. They all laughed at me. On the bright side, I did beat all of them to the rim. There I was rewarded with fantastic views of the crater despite a substantial plume of smoke on the far side. Within an hour or two, all of the smoke blew into the crater and spoiled the view.
The PCT was closed going around Crater Lake, and besides few thru-hikers actually take it. The Rim Trail circles around the crater rim, and serves as a superior alternate to the official trail. So, by late afternoon I set off. Halfway around the rim, I got good signal and stopped to take advantage of it. Meanwhile, “Homes”, “Gandalf”, and the rest passed me.
By sundown, the smoke had magically cleared and provided stunning views. I greatly enjoyed hiking into the evening, and right as it got dark I ran across where everyone else had camped. The mosquitoes were beginning to become a problem, so I opted to join them hopefully not making to much noise.