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Pacific Crest Trail Day 125 – Hitchhiking around the Forest Fires in Crater Lake National Park

Last updated Apr 13, 2021 | Published on Aug 25, 2017

PCT Day 125 – Wednesday August 16
Mile 1790.2 to Sevenmile Trail Junction Mile 1801.7

PCT Miles Hiked Today: 11.5 PCT miles + 8 miles road walk
Total PCT Miles Hiked: 1351.6
Feet Ascended Today: 1450
Feet Descended Today: 3665
Current Elevation: 6020
Steps: 58894

I awoke feeling exhausted this morning, but got up early as I knew I had a long day ahead of me.

Hiking in the Sky Lakes Wilderness

I intended to hike 23 miles today. My planned route was as follows:

  • 11.5 miles along the PCT until I reached the Sevenmile Trailhead. This was the last place that I could exit from the PCT before reaching the closed portion of trail at the Southern Boundary of Crater Lake National Park.
  • 2 miles along the Sevenmile Trail to the Sevenmile Marsh Trailhead
  • 5.5 Miles on Forest Road 3334
  • 4.2 Miles to Forest Road 33/Nicholson Road to the intersection of highway 62 at the town of Fort Klamath.

From there it was just 16 miles along highway 62 to Mazama Village in Crater Lake. I planned to walk that tomorrow. The road walk wouldn’t be super pleasant, but doing the road walk now meant that I wouldn’t have to hike this section over again later.

Mt. McLoughlin

Descending towards Sevenmile Junction

Smoke from Crater Lake Fires Visible in the Distance

I really wanted to stay in a bed in Fort Klamath tonight. I wasn’t feeling very well and it seemed like a zero day in a hotel bed was in order. 23 miles would be my longest day so far but I was feeling motivated and the trail was relatively easy. Plus I didn’t feel like I had much of a choice. Once I exited the PCT I couldn’t just set up my tent anywhere. I wasn’t sure what I’d find and where I’d be able to set up my tent. Staying at a hotel in Fort Klamath seemed like the safest bet.

Sevenmile Trail Junction

I reached the junction with Sevenmile Trail in early afternoon and headed east. The trail went through the woods on a path that gently sloped downhill for a couple of miles to the Sevenmile Trailhead. From there I began following a forest service gravel road east that descended from the mountains. I joined a couple of hikers for part of the walk which made the journey more pleasant.

Trail is Closed!!

Around 5:00 pm, I split off from the other hikers and turned onto another forest service road. I soon found myself in a valley with farmland stretching for miles. I checked my phone and I had cell reception!! So I began calling around to see if any lodging in Fort Kalamath had availability. Fort Klamath is a tiny town with no restaurants but it does have a motel, an inn, and a couple of guest houses.

Sevenmile Creek

The first couple of places I called were booked up (thanks eclipse!) so I was very relieved when the third place I called had a room. The proprietor of Jo’s Motel and Campground inquired when I’d be arriving. When I told her that I’d be arriving in about an hour and that I was on foot, her entire demeanor changed.

Farmland Surrounding Fort Klamath

“We don’t rent rooms to backpackers,” she said. “Backpacks are not allowed in the rooms. The backpacks are too dirty.”

“I can ensure your room will stay clean,” I said, somewhat desperately. “I have a clean garbage bag I can put on the floor. I’ll put my backpack on that.”

“We have antique paneling on the walls,” she said. “No backpacks are allowed in our rooms. Period.”

I was crushed. My stomach was still gurgley and I was tired and all I wanted to do was to sleep in a bed. I sat on the side of the road and burst into tears. I know that hikers are dirty and of course it’s within her rights not to rent me a room but it felt so demeaning.

I gathered myself together and decided to just keep walking along the forest service road. Maybe I’d find a place to stealth camp. So I started walking.  A few minutes later a guy drove by in a pickup and offered me a ride to the highway. I didn’t even have to think about it. Yes Please! So I hopped in the truck bed. There went my continuous footsteps around this section. This meant that I’d have to hike the section again later. But I didn’t care. I was miserable and relieved to get a ride.

Viper and Fun Dip waiting for their Ride

I met Viper, Fun Dip, Nacho, and Nacho’s hiking partner (I don’t remember his name) at the junction with Highway 62. Viper and Fun Dip are sisters who are hiking the trail together. They were waiting for their parents who had rented a RV and planned to pick them up and drive them into Crater Lake. I decided I may as well hitch into Crater Lake and stay there tonight. There was no sense walking on the road since I was going to have to come back and hike this entire section over again anyway. So I walked over to the other side of the road and stuck out my thumb.

Hitching on Highway 62. Photo by Viper.

A short while later an enormous RV roared by and kept going towards Crater Lake. Boo. I was a little disappointed that they didn’t stop to pick me up but such is life. A few minutes later the RV came back and pulled over directly in front of me, pointing the wrong way in oncoming traffic. “Hop in!” said the driver cheerily. I didn’t have to be told twice.

An Australian couple had rented the RV and were on their way to see the eclipse. It was their first time in the United States and they were having a blast touring national parks. The driver clearly hadn’t had much experience driving on the right side of the road and pulled into oncoming traffic more than once. “Oh look!” he shouted eagerly. “A scenic overlook!” He cranked the wheel and the RV pulled off the side of the road without hardly slowing down. We all hopped out with our cameras and were back in the road again two minutes later.

Scenic Overlook Near Crater Lake

The couple dropped me off at Mazama Village in Crater Lake and I bid them goodbye. I had a lot of fun traveling with them.

I knew it was a long shot, but I checked if there was any availability at the Mazama cabins. There wasn’t, but the clerk said to check back again tomorrow in case there were any cancellations. So I paid the $5 fee and headed the hike-in/bike-in camp. It was a nice area filled with little private spots in between trees to put up tents.

The campground provided bear boxes so hikers could protect their food from bears. I put all my food and toiletries in my food bag and checked the box. It was full of “hiker box” free food that other hikers had gotten rid of to save on pack weight. A number of food bags were also stored inside along the back of the bear box. So I put mine inside with the other food bags and went to bed for the night.

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