I broke camp at a more leisurely pace this morning and left camp at around 7:00 am, looking forward to reaching the Sky Lakes Wilderness in the Fremont-Winema National Forest. I enjoyed the sunrise over Fish Lake as I walked along to the trailhead that lead back to the PCT. Less than an hour later, I was at the intersection with Highway 140.
From here I had to make a choice due to the wildfires. For me, it is important to hike every mile of the PCT, or if a section of the PCT is closed for some reason, to walk every step of an alternate route to where it connects back up again. This is called the “continuous footsteps” approach or the “purists” approach. I’ve given up on doing all the steps in one season or even doing them in a continuous order and I’ve had to flip flop and hike sections at different times, but I’m still going to do all the steps.
Some hikers can be a bit condescending to me because they’ve hiked the Sierras I haven’t. To this, the answer is always “Hike Your Own Hike”. Everyone’s journey on the PCT is different and no one’s journey is any less valid than anyone else’s. Similarly, lots of people hitch around the closed sections with no intention of going back and hiking them again. And that is a perfectly fine approach too.
So, I had a couple of options:
- I could hitchhike on Highway 140 (where I was currently at) around the closure to Highway 62 at Mazama Village in Crater Lake National Park. This would skip 47.7 trail miles on the PCT and I would plan to come back and hike this section when the trail re-opened. The advantage of this approach was that it would be easiest to hitch to and from this location as it was a busier road. Also, I had cell reception here.
- I could continue hiking to Sevenmile Trail at mile 1801.7 and leave the PCT at that junction. That was the last possible spot on the PCT that I could walk to prior to the closure and still bail out. This would skip 16.7 trail miles on the PCT, which I could come back and hike later. The advantage of the approach is that it gave a little more time for the wildfire ban to be potentially lifted as I hiked there, and also that it skipped a shorter section of trail. But it would be hard to get a ride from the trailhead as it was on a forest service road in the middle of nowhere.
- I could continue hiking to Sevenmile Trailhead and then walk around the closed area to Mazama Village. There was a reasonable alternate route that involved walking on Forest Service roads and along Highway 62 for 27.7 miles. This added an additional 11 miles to the total number that I would have hiked if I had been on the PCT the whole time. The advantage of this approach is that I wouldn’t feel compelled to come back and hike this stretch again later.
I eventually settled on the third option. I was tired of hitchhiking and skipping. I didn’t want to come back and do this section later. Also, it seemed that the other upcoming fires in Oregon had no reasonable alternate routes. I would have to skip around those and come back to pick up the miles later. I wanted to minimize the number of sections I would have to come back and hike later.
Welcome to the Sky Lakes Wilderness
So, I hiked on. Soon hiked into the Sky Lakes Wilderness.
My big highlight for today is that I hit an important personal milestone on the PCT – I have hiked exactly 1325 miles! That’s half of the total number of miles on the entire Pacific Crest Trail! It’s really exciting to finally accomplish this milestone. But it’s also rather sobering as it means I’m only halfway done. I’ve been hiking for four months and I’m ONLY HALFWAY DONE! Uuunnnnnnhhhhhh!!!!!
I’ve heard from other hikers that hitting the halfway point is a little depressing. I didn’t truly understand until I hiked 1325 miles. Now I get it.
Despite my rest yesterday, I was feeling a little tired today and my stomach was a bit gurgley. I wasn’t very hungry. I snacked on bagels and made mashed potatoes for dinner but I could only eat half of my meal as I relaxed near my tent in the Sky Lakes Wilderness. It was cold when I stopped hiking and I put on my warm base layer and puffy jacket as I set up camp. I was still feeling a little down and I wasn’t feeling that well. I fell asleep before remembered to brush my teeth or take my evening medication. Whoops.
Tomorrow will be a better day. Right?
PCT 2017 Stats
PCT Day 124 – Tuesday August 15
Fish Lake Resort Mile 1770.7 to 1790.2
PCT Miles Hiked Today: 19.5 PCT Miles + 2 road walk
Total PCT Miles Hiked: 1340.1
Feet Ascended Today: 2755
Feet Descended Today: 1117
Current Elevation: 6599
For more on my experience hiking the Pacific Crest Trail, visit my Pacific Crest Trail 2017 page: