Scott and Rachel's Pacific Crest Trail thru-hike journal: Olallie Lake, Mile 2047, Aug 20

A Damp Olallie Lake Camp - It was a tough decision to leave Shelter Cover Resort knowing that the rest of the group were going to have a delicious pancake breakfast and then spend the day out on the lake boating, but once we got going on the trail we felt like we had made the right decision for us. We returned to the trail by hiking up the closed road and crossing the railway tracks and then a few minutes later we reached the trail junction where we had descended into town. Now we faced a bit of a climb up towards Highway 58 and the end of Section D, but it was only a couple of miles walk and we were there in no time.

As we reached the trail junction where we had turned off the day before, we met a section hiker going northbound. We chatted with her for a little while, each time we leapfrogged with her. Two miles into Section E, at the Lower Rosary Lake we all stopped for a break and spent a little more time talking. Beth is a very interesting individual - on a number of different levels - and she has become Scott's newest hero. What impressed Scott so much, is that she manages to live on $2000 per year. Incredible as it sounds, she claims that she wants for nothing. She lives in a little tree house on the Olympic Peninsula, in Washington State and she spends much of her time hiking and doing trail maintenance as a volunteer ranger in the Olympic State Park. The thing that impressed Rachel so much, is that Beth is the lady who hiked the Wonderland Trail, in Mt. Rainier National Park, pushing a survey wheel in order to obtain the necessary mileage's for the book "Discovering the Wonders of the Wonderland Trail" by Bette Filley. Because Bette Filley is now too old to hike the trail, Beth volunteered to do it for her, so that Bette could finalize her book and get it published. Apparently, in order to get all of the mileages, check them, and then run the alternate routes and side trips, she had to hike the Wonderland Trail SIX times! That gives us and appreciation of what must have gone into writing the guidebook for the PCT!

After our breakfast break we said good bye to Beth and ventured out on the trail again to make our way past Middle and Upper Rosary Lakes before climbing the ridge and then dropping back down the other side. We then began a traverse through the forest to a trail junction with Bobby Lake where we stopped for lunch. By the time we finished lunch it was about 1:30 PM and we had only hiked 11.3 miles, partly due to our late start and partly due to us feeling a little slow and sluggish after the previous night's festivities. We looked at the map to see if we figure out where we should plan to camp that night then we got it into our heads that we should strive for Irish Lake. While Irish Lake was still another 13 miles ahead, the alternative was to stop at the Charlton Lake, 7.6 miles ahead, but we wanted to try and get a little further than that and there was no water between the two lakes.

A couple of miles after leaving the Bobby Lake trail junction the terrain got a little harder than it has been for days. While still easier than much of what we have hiked, we found ourselves diving in and out of countless little gullies as wee rounded The Twins. The trail generally climbed to a high point before dropping the four hundred feet back down again, but there were what seemed like hundreds of little dips and climbs in order to achieve that, and that is the type of hiking that Scott hates (he always says that he would much rather a steady up or a steady down, but having to constantly change gears tires him out prematurely). With the better part of five miles of this "difficult" terrain we arrived at Charlton Lake tired and thirsty. We contemplated calling it a day and camping there, but it was only 5:15 and we didn't want our late start to impact our daily mileage that much so we decided to push on the remaining 5.5 miles to Irish Lake. Before heading off again we dropped our packs and quickly walked the 100 yards over to the lake to get more water for the trip.

5.5 miles, at the end of a day that is just over two hours of hiking for us. We left Charlton Lake at about 5:30 PM and set off at a good pace, trying to make it to Irish Lake before the night got too progressed. After a mile or so we entered into a burn area that seemed relatively recent. We hiked through the burn for then next four miles or so, praying that it would end soon, or at least before Irish Lake. The trail was exceedingly dusty as there was no forest to create duff and retain moisture and we left a cloud of dust filling the air behind us as we walked. We were thankful that we were hiking through that area in the cooler temperatures of the evening as it would have been a brutal hike in the full heat of the day. As it was, we were sweating, but more because of the pace we were trying to maintain than because of the sun.

After what seemed like an eternity we re-entered forest and the trail leveled. We knew that we were nearing the lake as we passed by a number of small ponds. The light was getting longer and now that we were out of the dry burn area and into a lake region with all of it's ponds and marshes, we found that if we stopped, or even slowed our pace, we were swarmed by mosquitoes. We had been naive enough to think that we had missed the mosquito season as the talk of how bad they are in Oregon has far proceeded us getting here, but up until this point we had not encountered anything more troublesome than the odd one here and there. We broke out the DEET and applied it to any exposed skin, even though we knew we were within a mile or so of camp. With the chemical protection lathered all over us we ventured on to the dirt road crossing just before Irish Lake. There we debated the merits of heading the 1/4 mile down the road to the forest services Irish Lake Campground, but from looking at how poor the road was we figured that the campground would not be very developed and we would do better to stay with the trail and find a flat spot nearby.

As we started to make our way around the lake shore we kept our eyes open for a good place to camp. We passed by a couple of flat open spots but it looked like the nearby lakeshore was overgrown with reeds which would have made retrieving water difficult. We were nearing the end of the lake and still hadn't found anything suitable and then we bumped into a party of three section hikers in a small clearing off to the side of the trail. We asked them if they had seen any other sites around and they replied that they hadn't. We backtracked (that horrible thing that it is) for a hundred yards or so until we found a tiny clear and level patch almost on top of the trail and we decided that while it was defiantly less than desirable we had had worse and it would suffice. Scott went off to collect water while Rachel started to set up camp, but just after she got the tent set up Scott came back saying that he had found a great spot off in the bushes. We dismantled the tent and moved to the little clearing off in the bushes near the waters edge.

As it had been about 7:30 PM before we got our camp set up we ended up doing most of our evening chores in the dark. As dusk was settling in around us we were paid a visit by a grazing deer just 20 yards away, but she didn't hang out long at all after she saw us watching her. We bunkered down to bed after a good meal and wash and despite the relative later hour (9:30 PM) it was much earlier than what we had managed the last couple of nights when we had been in the company of the larger group.

We both slept like babes and didn't stir until the alarm woke us at 5:05 AM. Later on that day when we saw the sections hikers who had been camped nearby they asked us if we had heard a loud crash in the middle of the night, but we hadn't heard a thing. 25 miles after a late start and two late, restless nights had made for a very sound sleep.

We were on the trail again by 6:15 that next morning, despite Rachel's loud and persistent pleas for more sleep. The morning was cool and it made for nice hiking although we were battling with more mosquitoes. Two applications of 100% DEET and the mosquitoes were still landing on us before realizing that we were not very appetizing prey. We were making our way through lake region as we passed by one every 3/4 of a mile or so, and numerous ponds in between. We felt like we were making great headway as we cruised along making rapid progress up the map. First there was Brahma Lake, then Jesebel followed by Stormy and Blaze, each with the hoards of mosquitoes to pester us. We were about 7 miles into the morning's hike before we found ourselves in an area far enough way from any lake or pond to be somewhat mosquito free so it was there that we finally stopped for breakfast.

We had thought that we were further back than we were; we had been looking for a landmark that had been mentioned in the guidebook as being 2.2 miles further on from the previous landmark. It wasn't until we reached the next landmark, another 2 miles ahead, that we realized how far we had come, and that was a good feeling. Shortly after that we entered into another region of lakes, these ones a little larger and more pristine than those that we had passed by in the morning. We made our way from lake shore to lakeshore, hiking through the trees and then bursting out to see a bluish green oasis. Most of the lakes were shallow and had grassy banks but occasionally we passed by one that appeared deeper and not so marsh and we were tempted to take a few minutes out and go for a swim. The pressure of getting our mileage done in a reasonable time made us refrain.

We stopped for lunch on the banks of Cliff Lake, complete with a shelter and great group campsites. We took our time about eating, and then once we were done we relaxed in the shade of a large Douglas-fir tree for a while. Scott rinsed our shirts out in the lake and we collected a little more water while the water purification cured. We then looked for at the guidebook to get a feel for what was ahead and we noticed that there is an alternate route to Camelot Lake down along the Oregon Skyline Trail towards Horse Lake and then back up again. Not only did this alternate route provide better access to water, but it was also 2 miles shorter than the official PCT so we decided to take it.

Despite taking the shorter route, we still had 13 miles to cover before we would reach camp. We started out strong and fast and before long we had reached the turn off junction. We started down the alternate trail, passed the third Boy Scout troop of the day and then continued on at our speedy pace down to the crossing of Horse Creek and then we began the climb out of the valley back up to the crest. We seemed to have arrived at Horse Creek very quickly which got us to thinking that we were half way there, but we weren't, the climb back out of the valley was much longer than the drop into it. We stopped on the trail half way up to catch our breath and sip some water, but even so by the time we reached the top we were worn out. We had been climbing up through a gully for the last mile or so and it kept looking like we were reaching the top but then the trail would bend slightly and the summit which had looked so near was now another ridge away.

At last we rounded the ridge and came across the first of a handful of unnamed lakes and ponds, each of which was complete with it's swarm of mosquitoes. We had to stop for a third time that day to apply more DEET, and then we kept moving towards our destination. The lakes and ponds that we passed on the way to the junction rejoining us with the PCT were all lined with reeds and grasses, dampening our hopes that we might be able to swim at either Camelot Lake or the nearby Sisters Mirror Lake. Finally we arrived at the junction, walked the couple hundred yards to the banks of Camelot Lake, saw that it was surrounded by wet meadows and marshes, so then we headed the next 0.1 mile to the shore of Sisters Mirror Lake. The guidebook talked about following the spur trail around to the north west side of the lake where one would find good campsites on a rocky shelf, so that is what we did and we found a wonderful site. The trail had gone up onto a ledge and from there we were able to look down at an other lakeside rock shelf with some flat spots between the miniature trees.

Once we got the tent set up we both headed over to the lakeshore to have a swim in the warm waters. In order to get into the water we stood on the lava rocks around the edge of the lake and did a shallow racing dive into the water. Of coarse Scott was in first and even then it took a little while before Rachel had the confidence to brave the waters. While the water was not "cold" it was cool enough that Rachel was in and out within a minute and then sat at the waters edge to finish bathing while Scott swam around frolicking in the waters. Once we were both cleaned up we were back into the tent to prepare dinner, do some journaling and get ready for a good nights sleep. Making it into camp by about 6 PM (and being so speedy with our bathing) made for a very pleasant evening as we felt like we had more time and we were able to get all of our chores done before darkness completely enveloped us.

Just as we were getting ready to go to sleep we saw two little lights moving around the other side of the lake. We had seen a couple of ladies over their earlier in the evening, but we figured that the lights weren't from them because they were making their way around. We lay there silently, hoping that these late night hikers would keep going down the PCT rather than take the spur trail to our side of the lake, but they didn't. The two hikers were obviously looking for somewhere to camp because they would walk a few paces and then span their lights around into the bushes before moving on another couple of paces. They walked passed us and followed the spur trail up onto the ridge behind us, and we can only assume that they found a suitable spot up there because within a couple of minutes all went quiet and we did not see the lights continuing on.

We slept well that night, although we both woke a number of times before rolling over and drifting off to sleep again. While one would think that waking up a handful of times would give rise to a restless nights sleep (and it would in most circumstances) but on that particular night we found it very reassuring to wake up, realize that it was not dawn yet which meant that we got to sleep longer. One time when we were both awake at the same time we commented that it was a little dewy, but we both then rolled over and went back to sleep without doing anything about it. When we woke up in the morning we were hearing the sound of drips as the dew which had collected on our mesh tent dripped through. Our sleeping bags were soaked as was everything else. The mist was hanging low and heavy over the lake and there was no view of South Sister to be had over the ridge to the north The dampness of all our gear meant that we were a little slower in getting up and moving that morning. Everything we touched was we t and it was a nuisance to pack it all away in that condition. Nonetheless, we finally got going and we on the trail by 6:30 AM.

We headed away from the lakes and made our way up the ridge and over to Wickiup Plain, a huge open meadow at the foothills of South Sister. It was a cool morning with a stiff breeze blowing as we found ourselves walking across the plain, marveling at the beauty of the day and the incredible scenery in front of us. We had a cinder cone to the east, South Sister to the north east, Middle Sister ahead of us and a massive wall of rhyolite lava flow directly ahead of us. As we crossed the plain we rounded the tip of the lava flow and made our way up into a forested saddle and then down into a gully which opened out into another meadow with Mesa Creek meandering its way through. We continued to alternate between meadows and forested areas, generally climbing each time we entered the forest. In contrast to what we have encountered through much of Oregon so far, we were in wide open spaces with wonderful views. It was a very refreshing change from being enclosed in a tunnel of trees.

We stopped for breakfast after hiking about 7 miles, but from then on the going seemed to get tougher. Perhaps we have been spoiled lately with flat, easy terrain, but on this day we were encountering some hills along with sandier footing which required more energy to walk in. We plodded along, making what seemed like slow progress, and we were amazed by the number of other hikers that we encountered along the way. It seemed like we were bumping into Boy Scout troupes or couples out hiking every twenty minutes or so, and it was getting so bad that we were joking that we couldn't even fart on the trail without someone else hearing it.

Shortly after noon we reached the Obsidian area of the wilderness, complete with Obsidian Falls, Creek and Cliffs. Along the trail we saw numerous pieces of obsidian in all of it's black glassiness laying along side the trail, but as we reached the meadow above the falls it became so plentiful that it was almost as though someone had broken a huge black glass plate and the pieces had landed underfoot. We stopped for lunch at the clearing above the falls and pulled our sleeping bags out of the stuff sacs to dry them out in the sunshine while we ate. The sun had a nice warmth to it that competed with the cool breeze still blowing across the mountains and while sitting in the shade Rachel was only just warm enough to not require her fleece pullover.

Once we were done with lunch we ventured off to face the remaining 13 miles of our day, but as had happened with our breakfast stop we encountered tougher terrain shortly after getting going again. We made our way through Obsidian meadow and then up and over a ridge alongside North Sister and Little Brother. It was shortly after that that we began our climb up along the steep banks of White Branch Creek. We could see that the even steeper bank on the other side was formed by another basalt flow. About half a mile later we crossed the dry creek bed and began our long hike through the lava. We climbed over a couple of flow ridges before we began to follow a flow up towards the Collier Cone from which it had originated. It was a tough, steep climb up the tight switchbacks with the rough lava ball bearings under foot, but at last we reached the breach in the cone and we found ourselves within the basin with the cone's steep slopes reaching up towards it's circular lip. We traversed across the inside of the basin, making our way to the northern edge where we would follow the breached ridge out, and while we were doing so the most incredible thing happened. A large boulder broke off of the cones slopes and came tumbling down in front of us. We looked at where it had come from, where it ended, and we were thankful that we had not been 50 yards further along the trail otherwise it would have scared the daylights out of us. Even as it was, it was pretty incredible to see a rock that size just break free from where it had been sitting for a couple hundred years.

Once we reached the ridge on the north side of the cone, we were treated to views of what was to come. Ahead of us we say four impressive peaks: Mt. Washington, Three Fingered Jack, Mt. Jefferson and then finally, way off in the distance, Mt. Hood. It was interesting because it was about five days previously that we had been standing on the rim of Crater Lake looking off into the distance and we saw two volcanic peaks barely noticeable on the horizon. We know now that those peaks were South and Middle Sister and it only took us five days to reach them. We wonder how many days it will be before we are standing on the foothills of Mt. Hood.

Once over the ridge of the cone we began a winding course through the lava flows. When we weren't walking on lava rocks that rolled and crunched under foot we were on a deep volcanic sand which drained our energy as we lumbered up the hills and then sank back down the other side. One good thing was that the breeze was still blowing and it had picked up to be quite a stiff and steady wind which kept us cool enough as we traversed the open and exposed slopes.

At last we reached a junction at Scott Pass and then we had a decision to make. Our original intent had been to head down towards Highway 242 and the trailhead parking area with a camping area nearby, but the guidebook referred to the nearby lake as being less than pristine and definitely in need of purification. Being that it was also a Saturday night, we thought that there might be a bunch of people at the trailhead camp so we were open to other options. We referred to the guidebook and found that there is an alternate route down from Scott Pass junction which when by South and North Matthieu lakes, both of which reportedly have camping. While to stop at either of these lakes would be cutting our desired mileage short by a couple of miles we decided that they were a better alternative to the trailhead camping area.

Almost immediately after leaving the junction we came across South Matthieu lake. It was quite a lovely little lake and it was tempting to stop right there but the wind was howling over the ridge and we thought that we would quickly get cold once our bodies stopped generating so much heat. Pressing on we descended off the ridge down into the shelter of trees. It was a third of a mile down to the lake but it felt like so much more. As we were making our way down a weekender came blasting past us and we both felt like calling out after him "Oh yeah, well we've already hiked 22 miles today... and 26 yesterday.... and 25 the day before." When we reached the lake we followed the trail to the south through the trees to the lake shore. As we arrived on the shore of the lake we looked across and saw the weekender standing on a clear, flat peninsula looking out over the lake. As he hadn't yet taken his pack off and set it down we took the chance that he was just looking before moving on so we turned around, backtracked to the main trail and walked the remaining 100 yards to where he had been standing. By the time we got there he had moved on and we had the spot to ourselves.

It was about 6:30 by the time we were all set up. Scott went for a swim while Rachel bathed in the tent and we even had time to rinse out our shirts and hang them to dry in the waning sun and the breeze. We had a nice dinner and then as we were settling down for the night when we heard a noisy group of campers making their way around the lake yelling across to another camper that fires aren't allowed in the Matthieu Lake area. As we lay there listening to them make an amazing amount of noise we rubbed each others feet and hoped that they would quiet down soon.

We both had another good night sleep and woke in the pre-dawn light (to the sound of the watch alarm) to snuggle for a bit before forcing ourselves to get up and get moving. We left camp at approximately 6:30 AM and continued our descent down towards the trail junction to the parking lot. Right after that we headed back into the lava rocks for another 1.1 mile to the Highway, and that was very slow going. We wound our way through the ridges, up and down, in and out, all the time walking along fist sized lava rocks. They were big enough that they did not form a basically level surface, but not so big that we could trust them to hold our weight without rolling to one side or another. By the time we were finished that 1.1 mile we were exhausted and discouraged; how were we ever going to make our daily mileage if the terrain was that tough?! To make matters even worse, as we looked across the highway at the terrain to come, we saw lava and more lava, almost as far as the eye could see.

We started out into the next section crossing a massive lava field. We were climbing towards Belknap Crater, but our more immediate objective was Little Belknap to the east of it. It was 2.5 miles of lava field before we finally reached the spur trail heading the last hundred yards to the summit of the smaller cinder cone. The size of the lava rocks had reduced to that of barbecue rocks which had made for easier hiking, but we were still longing for a soft, level forest duff trail.

We had breakfast at the spur trail to the top of Little Belknap before continuing on with our trek. To our relief, we crossed over the next ridge and entered into a patch of forest that descended down the flanks of Belknap Crater skirting around another huge flow to the north east. With the crater behind us we found ourselves on the south slope of Mt. Washington, facing a lengthy traverse along her slopes and around the west side. We were looking for a spring shortly after turning north around the impressive peak, but we didn't find it. We were moving so slowly that we were convinced that we had passed the spring before we actually did. Then when we finally got to the spring we didn't recognize it as such because it was not flowing very profusely so we walked right on by, not figuring it out until later.

Now that we were a little short on water, we set our sights on an alternate route that would take us down to a Youth Camp. We reached the turnoff a couple of miles later and ventured off the trail to head the 0.7 mile down too the camp and the all important spigot. It was there, beside the horse corral, that we had our lunch of peanut butter on bread and cookies (we were unable to purchase cheese at Shelter Cover Resort so we have had to go without). Once we finished our lunch we had another mile and a bit of road walking to join us back up with the PCT, but the nice thing about the detour was that it didn't add to our mileage.

Once we were rejoined with the trail we had a four mile hike to busy Highway 20. Those four miles were relatively good ones as we were on almost level terrain which was a snow-park in the winter time. Cross country trail markings were visible in the trees and route maps were posted on ten foot high poles. The area had been logged, but there was enough new growth to make the route quite pleasant. We passed by a couple of ponds, crossed numerous jeep roads, and eventually emerged on the side of Highway 20. The highway was so busy with it's three lanes of traffic, that we had to wait a couple of minutes before the traffic cleared and it was safe for us to dash across the road.

Once we were safely on the north side of the Highway we stopped for a "pack-off" break. We each wolfed down a chocolate bar, drank a little water and examined the guidebook to determine what was to come. We wanted to hike another five miles or so, but that would leave us in the middle of nowhere on a steep climbing traverse on the west side of Three Fingered Jack with no water to be found for a number of miles in either direction. Fortunately, the guidebook provided and alternative, although in this case it was sure to add the disclaimer that the route had not been mapped out by the author, but is described by his referring to Forest Service Topographic maps. This alternate route was about the same distance as the official PCT, but it stayed about 1000 feet lower and passed by countless lakes. The final deciding factor for us was that five miles further would take us to Santiam Lake where we could camp.

With our decision made, we finished up our snacks before preparing to venture on. At last Rachel stood up and announced that we had to get her away from the road because she was feeling the desire to walk the 50 yards back, stick out her thumb and hitch hike home. As she informed Scott of this, tears welled into her eyes and she stifled back a couple of sniffles. Scott was quick to oblige, knowing that as soon as he got Rachel moving and away from the sound of the cars and the evidence of civilization she would be alright.

We headed up the trail to the alternate route junction, 1.4 miles along. We then veered away from the PCT not to see it again for another 24.6 miles. We dropped down off the ridge and made our way along the Oregon Skyline Trail and sound found that we were walking in couple inch deep sand. The trail was wide and clear, but we were in a basin with open meadows that had nothing but sand. We slogged our way along, feeling the energy drain from our already weary bodies, and the miles seemed to drag. To add to the hardships, we came across a couple of trail junctions that either weren't mentioned or they weren't marked so we were left to guess how far we had come and where we were. After a couple of miles we managed to get our bearings and then a couple of day hikers confirmed for us that we were correct in our assessment before we pressed on the last two miles to Santiam Lake.

We had both hoped that we would be able to swim in the lake but as soon as we stopped hiking we were swarmed by mosquitoes so the thought of stripping off and leaving our bodies fully exposed to them was not desirable. Instead w e quickly pitched the tent, gathered water and dived into our bug free haven to bath, fix dinner and prepare for sleep. From the shore of the lake there was a great view up above to the massive peak of Three Fingered Jack, but unfortunately from where we were pitched a little back from the shore we were unable to appreciate it. Just before the sun set, two huge helicopters flew overhead each hauling a Bambi-bucket used for collecting water to fight forest fires. We watched as they flew over us, wondering where they were headed, and wondering where the fire was. As we later found out, it was in the Jefferson Wilderness somewhere to the west of us and some, or all (we aren't sure which), of the alternate route which we had followed for the next twenty miles was actually closed to the public because of the close proximity of the fire. Other than the activity of the helicopters we had no idea that anything was going on; we did not see or smell any smoke

The following morning was another slow one for us to get moving. It was a cold morning and again we experienced a little dew on our bags and gear (although nowhere near as bad as it had been the morning at Sisters Mirror Lake). It was 5:55 AM before we finally crawled out of our sleeping bags to brave the day. Despite lying in bed so late, however, we were out of camp by 6:35 AM.

We made our way back up to the trail and renewed our slog through the deep, tiring sand. We were both praying that we would not have a whole day of such conditions as we would not have lasted long, but thankfully before long we found ourselves in the forest again with good duff under foot. We hiked into the Eight Lakes Basin and followed the rough description of the guidebook. We were walking through thick tree cover and the forest floor was littered with blueberry and huckleberry bushes, both of which were ripe. We stopped every now and then to feast of the delicious berries, but with our mileage objective in mind we didn't dawdle too long.

By mid morning we reached Marion Lake, the largest lake in the Mt. Jefferson Wilderness, and we heard the helicopters buzzing overhead again. This time we heard them approach but we didn't hear their whirling noise continue on their northward track away from us. Rather, they seemed to be hovering around the lake basin for quite some time before returning on the tract from which they had come. At last we broke through the trees to a clearing from which we could see what was going on, but as Murphy has it, while we were standing there the helicopters were nowhere to be seen. Nonetheless, we scanned the lake and surrounding ridges to see if we could see anything abnormal, but our efforts revealed nothing. After a couple of minutes we continued on up the trail and then very shortly after that we heard the sound of a helicopter come back over the ridge and hover around for a while, hidden from view by the trees.

We turned away from Marion Lake and the sound of the helicopters and began an ascent towards Lake of the Woods and Bingham Ridge. The trail had been in great condition all morning, but almost immediately after reaching Lake of the Woods it was in obvious need of some attention from a trail crew. The 2 mile section from the lake to the trail junction along the ridge was about the worst segment of trail that we have seen yet. Not only was it overgrown in places but there were dozen of blow downs (trees that have been blown down in a storm or under the weight of snow) blocking the trail and we were stepping over or around them every hundred yards or so. Some of the logs obstructing our way were up to 5 feet in diameter so there was no going over them and scrambling up the steep slopes to get around them was not easy either. At one point, we were in the process of navigating our way around one such log when Rachel slipped as she was descending back down to the trail. All of a sudden she burst into tears; Scott thought she had hurt herself but in actual fact she was just so sick and tired of the poor trail.

We stopped for lunch at the point of Bingham Ridge and by the time we set off again Rachel was feeling a little more optimistic about the trail ahead. while there were still a number of blow downs that had to be passed, the trail conditions improved drastically after a mile or so when we began our descent down towards Pamelia Lake. The trail began to switchback down the steep slopes and with each bend and drop in elevation we cringed a little knowing that in due time we would have to regain that elevation, and then some.

We reached Pamelia Lake at about 4 PM and then consulted the map looking for a suitable camp in the next five miles. We saw that we were going to be climbing up towards Jefferson Park and that we would pass a number of sites in that vicinity and a couple possible ones before hand. As Jefferson Park was another 7 miles further on we kept it in the back of our mind as we began the climb away from Pamelia Lake.

The climb away from the lake was steep in parts. We ended up climbing 1200 feet towards Russell Creek where we were faced with a difficult creek ford. It had been a long time since we had had a river crossing that gave us any more consideration than a hop skip and a jump across, but this one broke that dry spell. Providing drainage for both Russell and Jefferson Park Glaciers up on Jefferson Peak the guidebook recommended making the crossing before 11 AM when the volume is typically increased by the sun speeding up the melt on the glaciers. We were attempting the crossing at 5 PM and the creek was rather full. To make matters worse, there was a gorge a little below where the trail crossed and the guidebook warned that some hikers have had a one way trip down that gorge. We walked upstream a little ways looking for a good and safe place to cross when finally Scott settled on one spot. He stretched out between two rocks and then using his trekking poles was able to propel himself forward onto the forward rock and easily made it the rest of the way across the creek. Rachel stood there and watched Scott go, but when it came her time to span between the two rocks she didn't think she could do it. At last she went for it and got one foot on each of the two rocks and then stopped. She was stretched out too far that she couldn't get any leverage to get both feet onto the second rock. She looked at Scott who was watching from the other bank, and when he saw her eyes get wide he knew that he had to help her. He quickly dropped his pack and boulder hopped back to where Rachel was stretched out spanning the two rocks so that he could grab hold of her hand and pull her to safety.

With the tricky creek crossing behind us we scrambled back down the bank of the creek to where we picked up the PCT again. Now that we were starting to feel the fatigue of the day's hike we decided to give up on making it the additional 2 miles to the Jefferson Park area and set our sights on the "poor campsite" just around the next ridge. We hiked the little ways up to the ridge and when we got there we found what we thought was a great site with a creek flowing right beside it. We thankfully dropped our packs, set up camp and settled into our nightly routine without much delay.

We slept well that night but it came to an abrupt end minutes before the alarm went off at 5:05 AM. Rachel woke up and thought that she felt a few rain drops falling through the mesh tent and hitting her face. She woke Scott just in time to hear the beeping of the watch alarm. When she told him that she thought it was starting to rain he waited for a few seconds to see if he felt anything and when he didn't he suggested that it was just due. Relieved, Rachel agreed that she must have been wrong and we settled back down to snuggle for a little bit before beginning our day. About two minutes later we both felt the drops and this time there was no mistaking it for dew. For a brief minute we contemplated getting up and putting the fly on, but then decided that we would be better off just to get up and start packing to go. We quickly broke up our snuggles and began to throw our gear together as the drops continued to fall around us, increasing in intensity and frequency. We managed to get most of our g ear packed up before the heavens really opened up upon us, but even so some of our gear went into our pack pretty wet.

It was still dark by the time we finished throwing everything together and we started out on the trail at 5:45 AM. We had to use our headlamps to light the way for the first five or ten minutes of the hike before there was enough daylight making its way through the trees so that we were not totally blind without them. The drizzle had developed into a full out rain by the time we were a mile up the trail and we were good and wet by the time we reached Jefferson Park. We both had our rain jackets on, but Scott was wishing that he had called for his rain pants to be included in and earlier re-supply box as his legs were getting drenched. As we made our way through Jefferson Park the rain eased to showers, starting and stopping, leaving us playing a guessing game. While it was wet and shrouded in clouds it was clear that Jefferson Park was a beautiful place. There were meadows abounding with wildflowers and had we not been in the clouds we would have had spectacular views of Mt. Jefferson peak.

We made our way through the Park and then began the additional 1000 foot climb to Park Ridge. We reached the top of the ridge in the midst of another shower, but now we were being hounded by a stiff wind coming over the ridge as well. Despite our steep climb we were getting chilled; we were wet on the outside and sweaty under our waterproof layers and now we faced a steady descent back down off the ridge. We dropped off the lip and were almost immediately faced with the crossing of the first of three snow fields. The rain on the surface was making things slick, but we managed to traverse across the fields and down to rejoin the trail without too much trouble.

We kept hiking, trying to keep warm as we got progressively wetter and wetter. We were thankful that we only had a 14 mile hike into Olallie Lake were we would be able to get warm, dry and out of the rain; hey, perhaps we would even spring for a cabin or room. The remaining 9 miles into Olallie Lake were absolutely miserable. The rain was coming down steadily and the trail had quickly turned into a creek. At times there were ankle deep puddles in the middle of the trail and no easy way to get around them. As our feet we already soaked we gave up on the pretense of trying to keep them dry and eventually just started to wade straight through the puddles. By the time we reached the turn off for Olallie Lake and Resort there was hardly a spot on our bodies that was dry and we were miserable.

We wandered into the resort area, our salvation place, and climbed up onto the porch of the store. We were greeted on the porch by another hiker who we did not know telling us that there were no cabins for rent: news that we did not want to hear right off the bat. We dropped our pack outside and entered into the store to get confirmation of the fact that there were no vacancies and that we would have to camp. We, along with a couple other people, hovered around the little pot belly stove in the tiny store, trying to dry off and warm up. We stood there for at least half an hour trying to get warm and letting the reality of the situation sink in. At last Rachel broke down and had a little cry on Scott's shoulder, wishing once again that she was warm and dry at home. Seeing her so distressed, a lady in the store offered to buy us each a coffee or hot chocolate, and that did wonders to lift Rachel's spirits; not only was it the first nice thing that had happened all day, but it was something warm to put inside of her.

Once we were feeling a little better and there was a break in the rain showers, we decided that we had might as well head outside and find ourselves somewhere to camp. We walked back to the PCT where it passed by Head Lake, (not more than 0.1 mile from Olallie Lake and the resort store) and then turned to the right where some other people had told us that we would find free camp spots. We walked up the trail a little ways and then came across someone else's camp that was all decked out and prepared for the weather. There was a huge house sized tent, a massive tarp and four people hanging around a bonfire. As we approached, thinking that we would walk right on by to find somewhere as far away from them as we could, a voice called out "Rachel and Scott, the Canadians". It was Eric, "Skypilot", who we had not seen since the Mojave River Reservoir Dam back in early May.

The reunion with Eric was great. It put a silver lining on what had otherwise been a lousy day. We dropped our packs, gathered around the bonfire, were introduced to Gene and his son Patrick (whose site it was) and their neighbor Norm and then set about catching up on all the news of the last few months with Eric. As we talked we stayed close to the fire still trying to shake the chill from our bones and then Gene offered us a hamburger each. He grilled them up on his Coleman stove and considering the circumstances they were just about the best burgers we have ever eaten. An hour or so later, a little warmer and with some food in us, we finally went about pitching the tent nearby and we then headed back down to the store to collect our re-supply boxes. We had made the mistake of sending our bounce box to the resort, forgetting that there is no outgoing mail, so we then had another problem that needed to be addressed. Without any hesitation, Norm agreed to drop our box off at the Post Office for us the following day when he headed back into Portland.

The next question was where were we going to send it to? We had already figured out that we were going to be in another Post Office jam as we were arriving in Cascade Locks on Saturday and that there were no P.O. hours on Saturday assuming that we would even be able to make it there by the time they close. So, we were going to have to wait until Monday morning for our re-supply box, but we weren't sure if our bounce box would make it to Cascade Locks on time. The next option was to send it to White Pass, our first re-supply in Washington, but then we weren't totally sure if there would be outgoing mail from there. At last we decided to send the float box home. We figured that while we access stuff out of it at each re-supply, it is not worth the hassle and the postage paid to get to those few items that we need and considering that we are nearing the end we decided to just give up on it and send it home.

We went through our re-supply box and bounce box within the confines of the tent. it was a little crowded to say the least, but we managed. It had been dark for a couple of hours before we were all finished and then we enjoyed another stint by the bonfire socializing with Gene, Patrick, Norm and a couple of resort employees before we said our good nights and crawled into the tent for some badly needed sleep. It must have been after 11 PM by that time and we were quick to fall asleep.