Welp, Oregon is on fire. Forest fires are popping up all along the Oregon section of the PCT, causing trail closures, requiring hikers to reroute/skip/not hike those sections.
In some cases there are alternate trails we can take (these are fairly rare), often the suggested alternate includes road walking a zillion miles (which is not super ideal or pleasant). SOOO, I’m just continually collecting options, waiting to decide my next move until I get to the next closure. Information changes so quickly that you really can’t anticipate what conditions will be more than a day or two out; the extent of the closure, location of the closure, and alternate routes all change pretty quickly. Luckily, I’m towards the end of the closures (fingers crossed it doesn’t change!), and should have an uninterrupted 150 ish miles to the Oregon/Washington border!
Carl hiked a total of 150 miles with me. We had our fill of adventure, scurrying off trail before fires caught up to us, and jumping in Crater Lake (one of my favorite extra moments so far!). Carl was a great hiking pal, especially considering I nudged him to hike bigger miles (sorry bud!), and his pack was giving him some trouble. We saw tons of lakes, camped at this dreamy spring with hundreds of dragonflies, and met some great fellow hikers. I spent my birthday being a tourist at Crater Lake, we went to a ranger presentation and enjoyed a free concert by the lake. I’m thankful I have so many people from home that are willing to share this experience with me. It’s super wacky and wonderful and is best understood through personal experience.
After Carl left to go on another backpacking trip, I headed out solo on a short 50 mile section to Elk Lake. I wasn’t solo for long; I met a couple hikers (Hitch and Sinatra), my first night out, and ended up leap-frogging them over the next couple days. We reached Elk Lake and decided to hitch around the 30 mile fire closure in the Three Sisters Wilderness (anotherrrr bummer!). We got a ride to Bend OR, had a burger and milkshake, and got another ride to McKenzie Pass just in time for sunset. We cowboy camped on top of an observation deck and experienced some of the best stargazing. I saw tons of shooting stars and the milky way. It’s been one of my favorite campsites on trail!
From McKenzie Pass, I had 12 short (but rocky!) miles to Big Lake Youth Camp across some lava fields and old burn areas. I’ve been resupplying and visiting with hikers, and will hike out in just a couple hours towards Timberline Lodge.
Oregon has been gentle; gentle climbs, gentle hiking. The trail is often padded with pine needles and shaded by monster mossy trees. There are beautiful pristine lakes, and lots of places to stop and get milkshakes. I’ve welcomed the change after the intense Sierra. Oregon has been a “no worries” experience, which has been SO nice!! The fire closures have added a new flavor to this adventure, but there are a ton of options and it’s been an interesting contrast to continuous hiking. I feel refreshed and strong in Oregon, anotherrr great contrast to the Sierra! I’m stoked to be hitting Washington soon, time and miles are seriously flying by at this point!