Last night Rex and I camped under the shadow of the jagged and impressive Mt. Thielsen. We camped here because of the nearby stream.
As usual, this morning we were up and hiking by 6am. We stopped at the nearby Thielsen Creek and collected enough water for the 22 mile hike to our next water source – the water cache at Windigo Pass. I needed 2.5 liters.
Soon we were back in the forest.
It wasn’t long before I had a view looking back at Mt. Thielsen as the rising sun lite up its jagged peak.
As I continued northward, I walked in the cool shade of the forest waiting for the sun to rise high enough to provide a little warmth so that I could take off a layer of clothing.
We passed a rare mountain meadow.
After about five miles Rex and I reached the official PCT high point in Oregon and Washington. Surprisingly it’s only 7573 feet in elevation. We were actually over 8000 feet two days ago when we visited the Watchman Tower Fire Lookout at Crater Lake. The high point on the entire PCT is over 13,000 feet at Forrester Pass in the Sierra Nevada.
Today was primarily a day for making miles. Most of the day was spent walking through the forest. At one point we had a nice view of Miller Lake in the distance.
It seemed smokier today and distant views were quite hazy. Hopefully the winds were just blowing in a different direction and the fires aren’t actually worse. Time will tell.
Flower of the Day:
Spiny Plumeless Thistle – this flower is found in grasslands, disturbed areas and roadsides. It’s distinguished by its spiny stems and purple flowers. It’s native to Asia and Europe and is an invasive plant in North America.
Since I started hiking eight days ago I’ve crossed over, around or under hundreds of fallen trees that block the trail. Here is one of them – they’re not all this large or challenging.
We arrived at Windigo Pass around 3:30 pm and there was a large water cache as expected. Hurrah, we will have water tonight again!
After visiting Crater Lake yesterday and hiking the Crater Lake Rim Trail, Rex and I hiked down and away from the crater rim and rejoined the official PCT. After collecting some water at a water cache, we continued on for another mile or so and camped in the woods. This morning we were back on the trail by 6:20am. It was another beautiful morning in Oregon.
The first eight miles were slightly downhill on a smooth dirt trail through the forest. For two old guys, we were moving along pretty well.
After two and a half hours we crossed highway 138, a major highway through the Cascades.
We continued on for another half mile to a dirt road where there was a large water cache – again thanks to Devilfish. It was nine o’clock and we had already hiked the eight miles.
We took a short break, had a snack and drank some water. We got back on trail and soon entered the Mount Thielsen Wilderness.
The next six miles would climb steadily uphill. There were views back towards Crater Lake Rim.
There were also nice views to the west of Diamond Lake – a large lake that many hikers detour to for resupplies, restaurant food, camping or lodging, showers and laundry facilities. Rex and I continued northward.
The trail was now traversing around the western flank of Mt. Thielsen, a jagged and prominent peak.
Water availability was dictating how far and where we would be camping for the next few days. The next water source was in another two miles at Thielsen Creek. The next on-trail water source after Thielsen Creek was in sixteen miles. So the options were: 1) do we camp near water (wet camping) or 2) do we collect water and carry it X number of miles and make camp without nearby water (dry camping)???
Obviously if you dry camp, you have to collect and carry enough water (2.2 pounds per liter) for the rest of that day, dinner that night and the hike to the next water source the next day. Camping next to water is definitely the preferred option. So…. we decided to call it a day a make camp early at a Thielsen Creek. My tent was up by 2pm.
Here’s the Flower of the Day:
Giant Red Indian Paintbrush is a perennial wildflower that attaches to the roots of other plants and takes the nutrients that it needs. It grows in meadows, forest clearings and woodland areas. I’ve started seeing this flower the last few days.
I enjoyed a lazy afternoon camped under the north side of the jagged Mt. Thielsen. That evening, I watched the moon set behind the jagged peak.
Fortunately today was another beautiful day with perfect weather along the Pacific Crest Trail. The plan was to detour from the official PCT (red below) and hike the Crater Lake Rim Trail (blue below) which offers wonderful views of the lake.
And yes, the detour is a little shorter thus my “Miles Hiked” noted above is less than the difference in the official PCT miles.
Rex and I left Mazama Village at 7am and headed up the Annie Creek Trail to reunite with the official PCT.
We only hiked on the official PCT for 1.3 miles until we branched off and took another side trail called the Dutton Creek Trail. We were walking uphill through the forest in the cool morning air while the early morning sun cast long shadows across the trail.
This trail took us up to Rim Village where we enjoyed our first views of the deep blue Crater Lake.
From Rim Village, the Rim Trail travels over six miles clockwise around the western side of the crater rim. The views are amazing!
Near the halfway point of the Rim Trail is a side trail that leads up to Watchman Overlook – a fire lookout at an elevation of 8013 feet.
The views are great.
It was also a great place to have lunch.
I got some funny looks from the “regular” tourists visiting the overlook but we PCT hikers get used to these “looks” when we re-enter civilization.
Here are a few more photographs.
After several hours of enjoying the views of the lake, the Rim Trail diverges from the rim and heads back down to reunite with the official PCT. As we left the rim, there were nice views to the south, where we had traveled over the past few days – including one last view of Mt. McLaughlin which I had passed two days ago.
There were also nice views to the north where we are headed in the next few days – we’ll camp near Mt. Thielsen tomorrow night.
The Rim Trail rejoins the PCT at a trailhead on the North Entrance Road to the National Park. Luckily there is a large water cache at this trailhead otherwise there wouldn’t be any water for over twenty miles. Thank you to “Devilfish” who maintains this cache – he is a true Trail Angel.
This morning Rex and I were back on the trail as the sun was rising.
Today would be a relatively short day on the trail. We only had about twelve miles to Mazama Village in Crater Lake National Park. I had reserved a room for the night and was looking forward to a shower, restaurant food and sleeping in a bed. I also would pick up my first resupply package. Unfortunately the Village was now allowing hikers or hotel guests to do their laundry so I would have to do the best I could in my shower (better than nothing).
Soon I had another view towards Klamath Lake in the distance – it still was still smoky.
I saw this feather on the trail – I wonder what kind of bird it is from?
Soon I had a view of the Crater Lake Rim. I won’t be able to see the lake until tomorrow when I’m actually up on the Rim.
It didn’t take long before we entered the park boundaries.
Everyday there are many dozens of fallen trees across the trail. Over, under or around, I continue to move northward around every obstacle in my path. Sometimes, however, it does feel like an obstacle course.
Later in the morning we reached the road that leads into Mazama Village.
Annie’s Restaurant was our first stop. Water and a couple beers were the first priority.
Here is the building that my room was in.
Rex stayed in the campground in his tent but I let him take a shower in my room. I had a hamburger for lunch (it was so so ☹️) and pizza for dinner (yum! 😊). I was so excited to eat normal food I forgot to take a photo🤣.
Thanks for following – tomorrow we hike up to the Rim and will hike the Crater Lake Rim trail. It should be one of the highlights of Oregon.
It was another beautiful morning in Southern Oregon. As I mentioned in the Day 3 post, last night I camped at Christi’s Spring with Rex, a hiker I met on Day 2. Rex and I decided to hike together today, so we were up early and hiking by 6:15am.
The first few miles were in the forest.
Unlike Northern California last year, there have been very few wild flowers along the trail but today I did pass a few, so here’s the Flower of the Day.
I noticed that this flower was especially common in burn areas. Dwarf Fireweed is a pioneer plant and one of the first to appear in areas that have been disturbed. It’s probably the most common wildflower that I’ve seen along the trail this year.
Later in the morning, the trail rose up and out of the forest and I enjoyed some views of the distant mountains.
Later I enjoyed a view of the first alpine lake that I could see from the trail this year. If you look closely you can see Klamath Lake in the distance to the east. I believe there’s been a fire near Klamath Lake, thus the haze and smoke.
The trail was generally a smooth dirt path so we hiked at a good pace of about three miles per hour. As we continued northward the views got even better.
There still was smoke in the distance towards the northwest. I’ve heard there are several fires in that direction but was not aware of their status or level of containment. I hope to learn more tomorrow in Crater Lake National Park.
A little later I had a great view of Mt. McLaughlin to the south, one of the most impressive volcanos in Southern Oregon. I hiked passed the left (east) side of it yesterday.
Finally, after about six lhours of hiking and sixteen trail-miles, Rex and I reached a stream and were able to collect three liters of water – enough to get us through the rest of the afternoon and evening. We stopped and took a rest, drank a bunch of water and ate lunch. We had another eight miles to the next water source – our last until reaching Mazama Village in Crater Lake NP tomorrow – twenty miles away!!!
As we hiked along we entered a burn zone
A tree had fallen and was blocking our path, so I held it up and Rex passed underneath
Late in the afternoon, we reach our last water source – a stagnant lily pond! Rex took his shoes off and waded out into the water and collected water for both of us.
It’s a good thing I have a great water filter!
These 0.1 micron filters (0.0001mm) filter out 99.999% of protozoa and bacteria – things like giardia. Normally a filter is all I use when I collect water from streams and springs along the trail but with “suspect” water like this, I’ll also treat it with a Potable Aqua (Iodine) tablet also. Treating water, in addition to filtering, will also kill any bacteria, protozoa and viruses and is a good back-up emergency water treatment system.
Here’s the difference between filtered stream water and filtered and treated pond water.
I know you’re saying, he’s crazy to drink that yellow water but trust me you would drink it also if that was your only option!
Once again I was up early, packed and on the trail by 6:15am. As typical along the PCT it was a beautiful morning with blue skies above. The first couple of miles were in the forest and then the trail cut through a large field of lava rocks.
The trail continued through the lava rock field for the next six miles. It was a well groomed smooth dirt trail and was a welcome change from the forest of the past two days.
I wondered what mountain this was that had erupted so manny years ago and created such a large lava field. I looked on my paper map and discovered it was Brown Mountain. Duh! I had camped at South Brown Mountain Shelter last night.
Soon I begin to glimpse another mountain to the north – the direction I was headed. It was Mt. McLaughlin, a very prominent volcano in southern Oregon. While the trail had passed on the west side of Brown Mountain it would pass on the east side of McLaughlin.
After hiking through the Brown Mountain lava fields I reached a paved road, highway 140, that leads to Fish Lake to the west and Lake of the Woods to the east. Some of the hikers I had talked to, including Rex whom I chatted with last night at the South Brown Shelter, were headed into Fish Lake to resupply and have lunch. I continued on past the highway and shortly came to the first stream since I started hiking three days ago (55 miles). I stopped and collected water and had lunch.
Soon I was back on the trail and slowly started to traverse around the east side of Mt. McLaughlin. The trail was uphill for the next five miles and gained about thirteen hundred feet. As I hiked through the forest, a yellow bird swooped down and dive-bombed me before swerving away two feet in front of my knees. Then it squawked at me from a nearby branch. I must have been close to it’s nest.
Today felt warmer. I checked my thermometer.
There are a lot of downed trees along the trail. Last year, because of Covid, there wasn’t much trail maintenance. I have a feeling I’m going to be dealing with a lot of trail obstacles this year.
I passed a pretty meadows and a view of a large lake.
I had a closer view of Mt. McLaughlin.
Late in the afternoon I reached Christi’s Spring where I would camp that night.
Later that evening Rex showed up. I had chatted with him last night at South Brown Shelter. He went two miles off the PCT today to Fish Lake Resort to resupply, shower and do his laundry. He was going to spend the night there also but decided to get back on the trail and hike on to Christi’s Spring. I think I had mentioned that I was planning on camping at the spring tonight. We decided to hike together the next day.
I slept well last night in the campground at Hyatt Lake and was up at 5:15am and hiking by 6:15. In a short while I caught a glimpse of Hyatt Reservoir.
The next water source was in 8 miles at the Klum Landing Campground – another campground just off the PCT. I carried too much water yesterday so today I started with a little over one liter.
The trail this morning was through the forest
When I got to the dirt road cutoff to Klum Landing Campground I still had plenty of water so I continued down the trail. Soon the trail crossed a paved road and to my surprise there was a camper van set up within TRAIL MAGIC!!! Trouble (that’s her trail name) and her boyfriend (I think) had fresh fruit, brownies, cookies, chips and drinks. Trouble had thru-hiked the PCT in 2017.
I enjoyed a brownie, a banana and some cantaloupe. What a treat!
The boyfriend was also offering shots of whisky. It would have been rude of me to refuse his kindness. Even though it was only 9:30am, it’s five o’clock somewhere. Right?
The rest of the day was primarily a gentle walk through the woods.
After about thirteen miles, I was able to collect water from a spring. It was just a trickle, but it worked.
I also took the opportunity to have lunch – packaged salmon in a double tortilla wrap, fig newtons and Fritos. Yum.
I passed a sign.
Seven miles later I reached the South Brown Mountain Shelter where I would spend the night.
I didn’t sleep in the shelter – it’s primarily for winter use or inclement weather. But I did set up my tent nearby and enjoyed having a picnic table to eat my dinner at and chat with another hiker (Rex).
Also it was great to collect water from the nearby pump.
Miles Hiked = 23 ( I took a shortcut that saved me 2 miles)
I spent last night at Callahan’s Lodge in southern Oregon just off I-5. I had a good dinner in their restaurant and enjoyed the live entertainment – a cowboy singing cowboy songs (he was actually pretty good).
This morning I was up at 5am and out of the lodge and hiking by 6. It was a nice morning. Recently there’s been a lot of construction on the interstate so I had about a one mile road walk until I reached the trail.
I left the road and entered the forest. The trail was a smooth well-trodden dirt path. It continues north to Canada, as well as south to Mexico. Fortunately I’ve already hiked the 1717 miles north from Mexico – 935 miles remain to Canada. Every adventure begins with the first step – so here it goes – let’s see what unfolds.
Yesterday it was close to 100 degrees and, as I mentioned in the yesterday’s pre-hike post, there was a lot of smoke in the air. I was concerned that today’s hike would be hot and smoky but, to my surprise, conditions had improved. It was actually quite pleasant in the morning with a nice cool breeze from the north. The afternoon temperatures were in the low 80’s – warm but very tolerable.
I’ve always thought of Oregon as being a very green state because of all the rainfall. Therefore water should be plentiful – Wrong! Southern Oregon, at least along the PCT, is very dry and there aren’t a lot of streams or water sources for hikers. The first water source after leaving Callahan’s Lodge was 10 miles down the trail. Since I was concerned about how warm it would be I ended up carrying almost three liters of water. That’s over six pounds of water! It turned out to be more than I needed but better safe than sorry. The three liters actually lasted me all day and I didn’t need to collect anymore until I got to camp in the late afternoon.
Shortly after getting on the trail, I could see a prominent rock, called Pilot Rock, in the distance.
About five miles into the todays hike there was a side trail up to this rock.
Later in the day, I ran into a mother (Halo) and daughter (Chief) hiking the trail – they started at the Mexican border in April and have a You-Tube channel (HRC on the PCT) that I’ve been following for a couple months – it was fun running into them on my first day.
There weren’t a lot of flowers along the trail today but here’s the Flower of the Day:
Yellow Salsify is a wildflower that’s considered an invasive weed. It’s very common along the PCT in Oregon.
Most of today’s hike was through the forest – it made for a nice first days walk.
Late in the afternoon the trail (red below) makes a big horseshoe bend in the trail. Many hikers were taking a dirt road as a short cut (yellow below) which saves about two miles of walking. I took the shortcut. PCT purists have to walk every foot of the trail. Others, like myself, want to hike a “continuous footpath” to Canada, so shortcuts or alternate routes are ok.
Finally I reached the campground where I would be spending the night. The campground actually had showers – what a luxury! It was a good first day.
Today I flew to Medford, Oregon and then took an Uber to Callahan’s Lodge. This is where I ended my hike last summer. It’s only a few miles north of California. Tomorrow I resume my quest to hike 🥾🥾🥾 from Mexico to Canada along the Pacific Crest Trail.
Callahan’s Lodge is just off the trail at mile marker 1718. The Canadian border is at mile 2653. So there are approximately 935 trail-miles left to reach the Northern Border. I hope to complete these remaining miles by Labor Day.
I’m very excited that my daughter Sydney, who lives in Seattle and is completing a Masters program at the University of Washington, will be joining me to hike the PCT through the state of Washington. It will be good to have four feet on this path again – what a great way to finish! Thanks Sydney!
As I flew into Medford this afternoon, I was surprised at how smoky it was. Apparently there are already (it’s early in the season!) several fires burning in Northern California and Oregon, including a large fire near Mt. Shasta. I’ve never worried about fires before while hiking but this year fires are my biggest concern – not for my safety but because of how fires can impact the hiking experience (views, air quality, trail closures, etc).
Also this year I’ve committed to recording more video – here’s an example:
And another one:
That’s all for now folks – I’ll be back on the trail early tomorrow morning in hopes of beating the heat🌞🥵. I’ll post again as soon as I have wifi. Thanks for following.
The lightening, thunder and rain blew through last night and I was happy to see another morning with blue skies. I was hiking by 7:15am.
As I hiked this morning, I had bittersweet feelings. I was sad that today was my last “official” day of PCT hiking this summer. But I was looking forward to seeing Donna tomorrow as well as the kids and grandkids in a few days in Bend.
My plan today was to hike to Callahan’s Lodge which is located adjacent to Interstate-5 in Southern Oregon (10 miles south of Ashland).
I was a little surprised that the visibility wasn’t better after the rain – it was actually quite hazy.
The trail passed through large mountain meadows filled with colorful wildflowers
I passed by Mount Ashland which is a popular destination for snow skiing in the winter as well as hiking and mountain biking in the summer. The large dome on the top apparently protects a radar dish that gives meteorologists weather information about the southern Oregon Siskiyou Mountains.
I took a short break, had a snack and continued hiking – there were more unique and colorful flowers
Eventually I started to have views towards the valley where Callahan’s Lodge and Interstate-5 are located. I could hear planes, trains and automobiles.
As the trail dropped down towards the paved road that goes to the Mt. Ashland Ski Area it actually crosses the driveway of two private residences. The second residence had provided a picnic table and water faucet for hikers … I took advantage.
One of the neighbors walked by and I gave him a cheerful “Hello, how are you?”. He just grunted something at me – I guess he wasn’t happy that his neighbor is a trail angel and provides a place for all us “strange hikers” to take a break.
I still had another six miles to go so didn’t stay very long. The trail paralleled the road as I continued down towards civilization.
I reached the cutoff to Callahan’s Lodge at 2pm
Ten minutes later I walked under Interstate-5 for the second time in the last month.
I checked into my room, took a quick shower and was soon was sitting in front of a burger and fries along with a local IPA.
After enjoying lunch I did laundry. Later that evening, when I returned to the restaurant for dinner, I ran into Energizer. I had met him a few days ago in Seiad Valley.
Energizer is a 57 year-old retired thirty-year career Army veteran. He is one serious hiker. He started hiking from the Mexico border in mid-May and has completed over 1700 miles of the PCT in two and a half months. That’s something like 700 miles per month! In comparison, I just hiked 500+ miles in the last month – so Energizer is really moving! We ended up having dinner together and then breakfast the next morning. Then he was back on the trail. I wished him good luck.
When I started planning this PCT section hike many months ago I considered the possibility of completing Oregon also. In June, Blake (my oldest son) and I discussed the possibility of Jillienne (my oldest grandchild) joining me for the next segment of the PCT to Crater Lake. It’s about 100 miles. It would be Jillie’s first backpacking experience. Blake and Tahnee (Blake’s wife) ended up renting a VRBO house in Bend for the week that Jillie would be hiking with me. Sydney (my daughter) decided to drive down from Seattle to join them. And, since Donna was already going to be in Oregon, she would join them in Bend also.
I decided I didn’t want to miss out on a family get-together and was also concerned that six nights and one hundred miles may be too much for Jillie’s first backpacking trip. I didn’t want it to be a negative experience. After discussing with Blake, we decided that Donna and I would join them in Bend and that Jillie and I would do a two night/thirty mile hike on the PCT in central Oregon.
There was one other consideration in my decision to not hike Oregon – Donna’s knee. She was scheduled for her knee replacement in mid-September but could schedule it sooner if I was off the trail.
So that is what happened. I spent the night at Callahan’s Lodge. Donna picked me up the next day after driving up from Central California. We would spend a few days in Ashland. Then we would drive up to Bend and meet the rest of the kids and grandkids (except Travis, who had to stay home and work).
Thanks for following – Oregon can wait until year!