Saturday, December 11, 2010

Over the Mountains and Through the Woods....

Sunrise from my camp at East Diamond Peak.
August 16: Can you believe it? Mid-August already! And you guys thought I'd never get caught up with this blog. But it's still going! =)

I woke up this Monday morning to do what most working Americans do: Work. I started early, already on the trail hiking by 6:15 that morning. The mosquitoes were already raising a ruckus, and the best way to avoid them was to outrun them!

The trail passed through a lot of trees with a lot of ponds--if there was a mosquito heaven, then this section of the trail was it. Lots of stagnant ponds to breed, lots of tree cover to keep the wind and elements away, and lots of hikers to take advantage of. Those mosquitoes must have though they died and went to heaven. I felt like I died and had gone to hell.

By around lunchtime, I had reached Highway 58, crossing just below Willamette Pass. My guide showed "dining" available about a quarter-mile up the road, along with a mini-mart of some sort, so I went ahead and walked from the pass to the ski area. I was sadly disappointed to see the parking lot taped off and everything appeared to be closed. *grumbling* In the early afternoon, the bugs were still out, but at reduced levels. I had hoped to go indoors and escape the buggers completely for lunch. It was not meant to be. *sigh* AND I walked a 1/4 mile off the trail AND BACK with absolutely nothing to show for it except wasted time. Argh!
One of many, many ponds
along this section of trail.

I did stop for lunch further up the trail between a small bit of land separating Upper Rosary Lake from Middle Rosary Lake. What a wonderful place to camp, I thought, if it wasn't so early in the afternoon. Probably a buggy hell come evening in any case. I wasn't tempted to stop early and try my luck. I did, however, stop for a rather lengthy two hours and read from one of the magazines I carried.

Normally, I'd rather have taken a short lunch and stopped earlier for the day, but given how bad the mosquitoes have been getting, I decided to take a longer lunch and hike later into the evening. I wanted to do a full 12 hours of hiking each day. Whether a I took a two hour lunch and hiked two hours later into the evening or took a short lunch break and stopped earlier, I'd get the miles in.

The difference was that by doing more walking during the buggy times, they'd bug me less. As long as I walked, and walked quickly, they couldn't get me. So I used the non-buggy (or rather, less-buggy) times for relaxing and resting.

I didn't cross paths with any northbound hikers, and I wondered if Red Head, Double D, and Just Dave were ahead of me or behind me. If they did NOT take the alternate route, they were definitely behind me. If they did take the alternate, I didn't know if they reconnected to the PCT at Willamette Pass before or after I reached it. I knew there were at least a dozen or so people within a day ahead of me, but I could have easily passed some of them if they had gotten off the trail at Willamette Pass to resupply at the nearly Crescent Lake Junction.
Odell Lake

In a nutshell, I no longer had any idea who--if anyone--was ahead of me, or behind me. There were certainly hikers around--I just didn't know where.

A little after 8:00 in the evening, I set up camp in a fire burn area near the trail junction for Lily Lake. The burn area had several advantages: One, it was exposed to the wind, which would help keep the mosquitoes away. Two, the area was largely bare of vegetation that could hide and protect those little buggers. And three, it gave me a nice view of the sky above. I do like to camp under the open skies when I can. =) It was also well away from any known water sources, which I hoped would limit the near-certain mosquito attacks to a manageable level.

And yes, the mosquitoes were still annoyingly bad. They could have been much worse, though.
What's up with that?! *grrr*

For dinner, I prepared the world famous Hamburger Helper. (Made with real, dehydrated hamburger. For some reason, everyone always thinks I don't add hamburger to the meal.) I already slipped into my sleeping bag while cooking--helps keep the mosquitoes away from my lower half and a good portion of my torso with just my head and arms poking out the top. But while ripping open the seasoning packet, I got a little carried away. The package ripped open, and most of it spilled out onto my sleeping bag, covering me with an orange dust.

"Just great," I thought. "I bet the bears are bored of eating unseasoned hikers anyhow." Not that I really believed any bears would attack me, but on general principle, I prefer not to smell like food.

I cleaned up the mess the best I could, though, and finished cooking and eating dinner. At one point during the night, I heard something that sounded large scurrying around near the unburned line of trees several hundred feet away. "It's not a bear," I told myself. And I still believe that. =) Probably a deer or something. Yeah, probably. =)

Upper Rosary Lake, if I recall correctly.
I think this section of trail might be in danger of "too much" signage!
I especially like how many options the blue arrows provide. =)
I enjoyed looking at the lichen while resting during my lunch break.
You'd think this was a forest or something!
Really? I could walk all the way to Eugene from here? Cool!
Maybe next time, though....
Charlton Lake
Sunset from camp


Anonymous said...

Wow, Odell Lake, I can remember being there with my dad and his boat way back in the 60's. I don't remember any mosquito's though, perhaps they hadn't been born yet. lol


Anonymous said...

Wow, I was at Odell Lake literally the day before! I was there for four days, nanny-ing for a family and I took the baby on several hikes (probably right where you stood for that picture). I actually looked for you once I saw the PCT signs =)


Laughing Orca Ranch said...

The joke about you being a 'seasoned hiker' cracked me up.
Maybe bears get tired of bland tasting food, too?

That last photo is stark but very pretty. Just imagine if the trees had not been scorched, you'd not have been able to enjoy such a pretty sunset :)

Hike On!
~Twinville Trekkers