Day 120 (25/07/2018): Tentsite at Mile 1910.8 to Desane Lake at Mile 1941.6 (30.8 Miles)
Got another 30 mile day in! This morning was pretty agreeable for a couple hours at least. Mosquitoes were mild, then around 10am they ramped up for a couple hours. My lunch spot after a burned area of trees near Lily Lake had no mosquitoes though, thank God! After lunch I headed over to Brahma Lake to go for a swim. Beautiful lake with a nice breeze and no one around. No mosquitoes at the lake either! Biting flies were present and harassing me unfortunately. Swimming definitely brightened my mood and felt so good on this hot afternoon. Shortly after the lake the mosquitoes really kicked it into gear and I didn’t stop aggressively hiking to stay ahead of them until I reached Desane Lake (more like insane lake). The mosquitoes are definitely still present and buzzing around my tent, but negotiable for the time being.
Day 121 (26/07/2018): Desane Lake to Random Tentsite off Mile 1973.6 (32 Miles)
Well, today was a rollercoaster for me. And the most miles I’ve ever hiked. The beginning of the day didn’t start so great. Mosquitoes were swarming my tent and head net from the moment I stepped outside. Going to the bathroom was a hurried and uncomfortable affair. The entire morning I was being molested by the flying terror and it seemed like it would never end, that is until I got to the Elk Lake junction where they mysteriously and abruptly ceased. There were random encounters throughout the day but nothing like the past few. Slowly the flora began to change. The trees and underbrush thinned revealing a magnificent view of the South and Middle Sisters. This trio of peaks within Three Sisters Wilderness and Willamette National Forest stands out so drastically compared to everything south of them. Hiking towards and past these volcanic monstrosities throughout the afternoon was truly the first time I’ve enjoyed hiking in Oregon. Southern Oregon was not my favorite to say the least. Luckily I’ll be in Bend, OR tomorrow afternoon and only a couple hundred more miles of trail lay before me until the Bridge of the Gods and Washington State!
Day 122 (27/07/2018): Tentsite off mile 1973.6 to Hwy 242/McKenzie Pass at Mile 1984.1 (10.5 Miles)
I turned my phone off and “slept in” this morning. I still got going about 7am though and ended up making it to Mckenzie Pass around 10:45am. The views were expansive and awe inspiring! I could see Mt Jefferson, Mt Hood, and Mt Adams way way off in the distance. Such a welcome change compared to the mosquito infested forests of the past week. At the pass I checked out the Dee Wright Observatory and the miles of lava fields I’d soon be walking over. A kind couple gave myself and “Reaper” a beer and some yogurt which was super tasty! Deschutes Mirror Pond, mm mmm! Right at noon my good friend from High school John came and picked us up and we drove down into Bend where we all met up with two more good friends I had made in Juneau, Alaska during my summers spent there in 2015 and 2016. Jiri and Laura suggested we get lunch and a beer at Bend Brewing, and I must say it was a perfect place to relax by the Deschutes River. Such a cool day hanging out with old friends. It was a shame John had to leave so early and head back to work. He drove four hours to come hang out for the afternoon! After saying goodbye to John I got to pick up my package containing new shoes, tent poles, and my shaver so I can clean up and not look as homeless as I had been. The evening was filled with numerous beers and good conversations about summers spent in Alaska with Jiri and Laura. What a great time in Bend so far!
Day 123 (28/07/2018): Zero Day in Bend
We floated down the Deschutes River in inner tubes and it was phenomenal! Very relaxing, except for the mini rapids at the beginning and end where it was crucial to negotiate volcanic rock sections and try not to pop your tube. We stopped by Crux afterward for some food and beers. First one is free for PCT hikers! Good tacos and beers. Bend is a craft beer enthusiasts Mecca. Stayed up way too late talking with Jiri and Laura, but it was certainly worth it.
Day 124 (29/07/2018): Zero Day in Bend
Woke up feeling not so fresh. Coffee and a bit of chilling and planning made me feel much better though. Around noon Jiri took off for a ride on his new KTM dirt bike and I was allowed to borrow their van in order to do some necessary resupply and errands around town. I’m so lucky to have such good friends. Chill night, pretty mellow, just watched some YouTube and Netflix before going to bed semi early.
Day 125 (30/07/2018): Hwy 242/McKenzie Pass to Big Lake Youth Camp off Mile 1995.1 (11 Miles)
Got a late start on trail today, but that was cool because I got to hang with Jiri for longer. The first 5 or 6 miles across lava rock was certainly not fun, but I zoned out listening to music and got it over with quick. Made it to the Big Lake Youth Camp right about 2pm. Charged devices, took a shower, then ate an awesome free pasta and salad dinner (donations accepted). This place is pretty cool I must say. My camp tonight is next to the lake, but when I look up the view is across a meadow with dead, burned trees and in the background is Mt Washington. Early to bed, early to rise and hike over past Shale/Coyote Lake area tomorrow night to hopefully meet up with Casey! Haven’t seen that dude in ages.
Day 126 (31/07/2018): Big Lake Youth Camp to Tentsite at Mile 2023.5 (28.4 Miles)
Woke up to condensation all over my tent and the top of my bag. Should’ve known better, camping next to a lake and pond. Gorgeous weather this morning, and on the way out from the youth camp the PCT hiker chill area was open so I even got to use a real bathroom before hitting the trail. It’s crazy how little things like that make me happy. Lots and lots of burned area to start with. Towards the afternoon I hit the 2,000 mile mark!!! I gotta say the 1,000 mile mark was a better feeling though, maybe because of all the distress and anguish caused from the snowy Sierra. It was pretty good trail all day long, just a lot of up and down, and sand. My legs are so dirty, and my feet are definitely back to hurting quite a lot. Oh well, gotta persevere, and days like today make it more than worth it. Seeing Mt Washington, then the smoke cleared while approaching Three Fingered Jack, followed by some of the coolest views of Mt Jefferson so far. Casey and Pat both made it to camp tonight! Super fun seeing those guys, it’s been a couple years. Tomorrow morning we’ll hike out together for a few miles before we split and I head up and around Mt. Jefferson. I need to get back and visit them in Portland, it’s been too long.
Mirror lakes reflect beautifully in the morning lightWhat you can’t see (and hear) are the hordes of mosquitosThe view of South and Middle Sisters after the forest finally opened upThe northern glaciated face of South SisterThese are the views I’ve been waiting for!Obsidian FallsVolcanic rock intermingles beautifully with coniferous forestFrom L to R: Mt. Washington, Three Fingered Jack, Mt. Jefferson, and Mt. HoodLooking back at the smoky Sisters Wilderness after a relaxing time in BendThe ominous view of Mt. Washington from my campsite at Big LakeThree Fingered Jack is one jagged, mean looking peak!Every year it seems like this place burns, remnants of past fires are seen everywhereReally enjoying these expansive views after hiking under trees for all of Southern ORThe smoke is creeping slowly through the valleysMt. Jefferson peeks out of the treesThis is truly one of the most standout peaks on the PCT