Day: Monday, August 29th 2016
Miles 1928.1 – 1950.1
Irish Lake 1928.1 – Elk Lake 1950.1
After a late night arriving in to camp, and not sleeping so well, I allowed myself a little sleep-in this morning. While I cant blame the later rising sun solely, I’m finding it harder and harder to get rolling in the morning. Motivation is low and the cooler mornings make my sleeping bag all the more comfortable. Taking a slow morning, some breakfast and refilling some slightly musty water from Ireland Lake. It was about 9:30AM when I left camp. The area I slept in was far less menacing under the glare of a sunny Oregon morning. Almost immediately after leaving camp, I entered the incredible Three Sisters Wilderness, one of my favorite sections of the trail. This feat, only beaten in intensity by the swarms of marauding mosquitoes that I came up against periodically. I put on my bug net and some deet for most of the morning. The pretty lakes around here are a blessing and a curse.
In a few sections, I found some old-school PCT trail markers, most of them deeply sunken into the trees on which they’re placed. I think I saw 4 or 5 of them today, more than any day previously.
The trail meandered a gentle northerly course passing many many lakes with such names as Brahma, Desane, Horseshoe, Porky, Dumbell and Island, culminating at my destination of Elk Lake. In most cases, really beautiful reflections were a treat to the weary walker.
An additional treat for the day was the amount of huckleberries and blueberries that suddenly started to surround the trail. I enjoyed many little snacks en-route as a result and wondered whether all these fruits might lead me to another bear sighting. Around noon and I was not to be disappointed, after hearing breaking branches above and to my left, I saw two medium sized black bears frantically trying to race away from me uphill, with little success, before they escaped over the bushes and out of sight. It was only a few seconds, but a really amazing sight. I proceeded a little wearily after that in case there may be more about, and made sure to amp-up my noise levels.
By this stage I will christen the day, mosquito day, as I was being pursued cross-country by many hungry end-of-season mercenaries. My bug net was doing a good job, but Oregon mosquitoes are a whole different ball game to those further south – power (ouch) and precision (how the deuce did he bite me there).
Breaktime with the sheep
The beavers have been busy!
Closing in on Elk Lake, it was about 7PM when I crossed the 3 miles mark to the turnoff, so I was getting that sinking feeling that maybe I would not make it before closing. Elk Lake has no trail-store however their burgers have a legendary status on the PCT. I met a lone southbound hiker on the way and he mentioned they were worth the rush down the hill, so I marched the final few miles with some vigor, before getting to the trail cutoff, and a magnificent view of South Sister, Mt.Bachelor and Broken Top.
A random hiker on the final meadow before Elk Lake
South Sister, a short distant to the north
Racing down the hill, I made it around the corner and in the door at Elk Lake, just in time to make an order for their famed Elk Burger.
Finishing up my burger, I started talking to some of the evening crew at the resort, who were all closing out for the night. They invited me to join them at their fire ring a short distance away, so I hung out with some interesting summer workers from Oregon, Washington and Utah. Their welcome was so very genuine, and they shared food, beers and stories late into the night, before inviting me to use one of their camping gazebos that was empty, a nice protected space from the elements, just as the first overcast sky in many weeks asserted itself over the lake. As I settled in to my luxury and bug-less accommodations, I was feeling very lucky tonight!