Wednesday, August 23
Stream & Tentsites, Mile 1796.8 to Annie Spring Trail Junction, Mile 1819.2 and then on down to Crater Lake National Park’s Mazama Village.
22.4 PCT Miles + .6 Miles to Mazama Village (and more to hiker camping area in campground, ugh)
Now that I have your attention—I also did some rebel things today too. I admit here that some things were stupid and some things I’m not totally proud of. Let me tell you all about how this day went down…since I have few photos, this will be a wordy post so be ready!
The trail was still damp this morning from last night’s rain and the bushes and trees left me with wet legs in the early hours of hiking. An upcoming closed area of trail lay ahead of me and I had heard that many SOBO’s had gone straight through it with no issues. I was unsure of what I wanted to do. The fine, if caught in the closed section, was $250. Although this was listed as a fire closure, the trail was not at all affected by the wildfire which was quite a distance away. Reports were that smoke was no worse here than at other places we had already walked through. It was unclear to me why the trail was even closed.
The alternate route around the closed section required leaving the PCT on a side trail about 10 miles prior, then walking a series of forest roads to a highway then walking that thru a nearby town, all of which added about 20 miles to my continuous footpath to Canada. Not what I wanted to do.
At the side trail, I stopped, looked around….and kept on walking along the PCT. I had a couple concerns: 1. if something were to happen, I would have far less people around me to help; and 2. the lightning last night could have sparked new fires and I would not know how they affected the trail.
I was on my own and I needed to stay safe. I needed to be very alert.
About 5 miles later, Steele and his dog, Cora, were walking towards me on trail—in the wrong direction. Steele excitedly announced that the PCT was on fire.
Crap. The lightning last night.
Gee Whiz caught up to me and we shared the news with him. Eventually, Gee Whiz and I decided to go the 3 additional miles and “just look at the fire.”
Steele told us that we would hear the fire before we saw it. He was right. It was the sound of green evergreen needles sizzling. Then there was smoke puffing up from the ground nearby. As we walked on, it was as if we were dancing and sprinting through a bunch of little campfires, snapping and crackling, glowing red and smoking. We consulted on whether to continue or turn back.
Just a little further, we decide.
And then we are through it.
So I survived walking through a live wildfire and then I fell into the rabbit hole.
The rabbit hole was a slippery slope. I knew to enter with caution. You see, my heel has been severely painful since Ashland, when it got center stage in the pain arena (after my opposite foot blisters went away and my back sores got under control with extra padding I got from cutting off the bottom part of my sleep pad). It’s been one thing or another since before Tahoe!
The rabbit hole was full of imagery of a more comfortable life; one filled with lazy, pain-free days, soft, cushy beds and couches, healthy salads & fruits, sparkling clean body parts, loved ones, friends, my dogs. I indulged in this place for a while and things got dark and depressing. That’s how rabbit holes are.
By the time I got to Mazama Village inside Crater Lake National Park, I was feeling strongly that my heel pain was from a stress fracture and that I should consider ending my hike. I was even thinking through a transportation exit plan. My “self-arrest” through the darkness was that I had to sleep on it before making any further decisions. Then, once in Mazama, I immediately went into auto-pilot with my town duties. This caught me by surprise and I kinda knew it then…I still wasn’t DONE.
I just walked the far too long walk to the hiker campsite and set my tent up in a surprisingly desirable spot.
I will wake tomorrow to a new day and feel then what I feel.
For now, I will get a much needed quantity of quality sleep.