Total distance: 1825.6
Camp tonight is off the trail down behind some trees with a couple other hikers I met sitting on the rim looking down at Cater Lake. We are having to take an alternate trail due to a fire west of us that has blown close to the PCT. I’m not complaining because this trail rides the rim of Crater Lake and is filled with incredible views the entire eleven miles around. The wind tonight is keeping away the mosquitos so there are many many reasons to be thankful, however, it is illegal to camp off the trail and supposedly rangers have heat sensors to find hikers camping. So, there’s that. Heat sensors? Wtf?
Today was draining. The heat came on quickly and so did the mosquitos as I left around 6:30 to get into Mazama Village as early as I could. There weren’t as many trees down as yesterday, but for some reason my body was struggling for energy. I felt like I was forcing most of my steps and my breath felt hot on my lips. Sounds like dehydration. Classic.
After some coffee M&M’s and other sugary goodies I picked up my pace and made the 20 miles into town by 2 pm. The place was less cozy than I hoped and charged me 4 dollars for shitty wifi, but I got a cheap shower and some free bars out of the hiker box before I made my way up to the rim trail.
I have somewhat of an obsession with checking mileage and seeing what the terrain ahead looks like, but once I stepped on the alternate path I lost all information on the elevation profile other than what the gain and loss would be. All I knew is that in two miles I had 1,000 feet gain. Bummer. I thought this would be a chill hike around the rim, but it winds in and out from the road rising up from parking lots and going straight back down into a new one. Part of me wanted to just walk the damn road, but I ain’t no cheat.
I took a small break at the Visitor Center and was reminded of the way stations in the Shenandoahs when my friend and I slept in bathrooms and stealthed behind the restaurants. Hiker trash fo sho. After I ate ramen with an added hint of diced onions and jalepenios and sauerkraut provided by the restaurant, I headed out to do another few miles and find a nice hidden, flat area to camp.
About three miles in I came across two guys sitting on the lip of the ridge and smoking a spliff and was encouraged to join them. Not much of a fight came from me. I set up camp and joined their party on the lake. Crater lake is breath taking. It contains some of the bluest water I’ve ever seen and is supposedly a thousand feet deep and at its narrowest point is 4 miles deep: whatever “narrowest point” means. The bluffs surrounding the water were orange and pink as the sunset while smoke from the west concealed brightness of the sun just enough to make it able to stare at. There are little pockets of snow right off the bank of the water below and a island rests in the middle of the lake known as Wizard Island.
It has been a long day, surprisingly, and I’m so glad to be with company on a sketchy camp spot. Hopefully the Oregon air chills the area enough so the Rangers heat sensors don’t detect my smoking hot body in my fart sac, which is currently being set ablaze by jalepenio gas. Yummmmmmm