PCT Day 128 – Saturday August 19
Grouse Hill Camp to Thielsen Creek Campsite Mile 1853.5
PCT Miles Hiked Today: 16.7
Crater Lake Rim Alternate Trail Miles Hiked: .5
Total PCT Miles Hiked: 1384.6
Feet Ascended Today: 2012
Feet Descended Today: 1376
Current Elevation: 6978
I slept in this morning since I was up so late hiking last night. I woke up thirsty, but was hesitant to drink very much water. Since I hadn’t filled up at Lightning Spring last night, I was running low on water. I heard that some water caches were coming up, but it’s always a bit risky to rely on those unless you have good intel from a trusted source. The next verified water source wasn’t for another 16 miles.
I hiked another half mile to the intersection of the Rim Trail with the PCT. I heard there was a water cache around here but couldn’t see anything. I checked Guthook and read the comments for this waypoint, which suggested the water was stored in a bear box at a parking lot .1 mile on the PCT in the opposite direction that I intended to travel. I backtracked on the PCT and, sure enough, I found the cache!! Oh happy day!
I lucked out as the cache was almost completely empty. The water tasted a bit stale but that was ok by me! I added some Gatorade powder to cover the taste. The parking lot was empty, save for a couple who were unpacking (or repacking – I couldn’t tell) bikes into their car. The female half of the couple looked like she was having some sort of major meltdown. I felt awkward and got out of there as quickly as I could.
It was good to be on the PCT again. The next 9 miles led to the northern boundary with the park, and weren’t very interesting. The path travelled through a sparse and uninspiring forest of trees. The trail was flat and soft and I made good time.
I hit the northern boundary of Crater Lake National Park around midday and crossed Highway 168. I saw some other hikers at the road hitching to Diamond Lake Lodge. I felt rested from my zero at Crater Lake and decided to keep hiking. These hikers had stealth camped at Lightening Spring Trail and watched the sunrise from Watchman Tower. I felt a little jealous but what can I say – I’m a risk averse person who likes to follow the rules. Such is life.
I passed a group of Americorps volunteers on the other side of the road who were doing trail maintenance. They all looked to be fairly young and were taking a break in the shade, with helmets and tools scattered around. I thanked them and kept hiking another half mile to an intersection with a dirt road where I found another water cache. This was much bigger than the one I found in the bear box earlier today.
The path continued through some trees and then began to ascend into more interesting terrain as I neared Mt. Thielsen. The trail crested a ridge and ascended to Thielsen Creek on the other side. I found a campspot with a nice view of Mt. Thielsen directly overhead – albeit partially obscured by smoke- and decided to stop for the day. I could have hiked a few more miles but I didn’t want to push it as I was still recovering from my stomach bug. I was feeling better, though, and ate a full dinner. It was good to have my appetite back.
I camped with a section hiker named Hoops who is traveling with – you guessed it – Hula Hoops! It was nice to have company again after traveling alone so much.