Day: Monday, 5th September 2016
Miles: 2038.8 – 2088.8
Remote site 2038.8 – Barlow Pass 2088.8
Myself and FlyBy had spent a good deal of yesterday playing catch-up to Outro, mostly because we had all discussed a half-hearted plan to do a fifty mile day somewhere between Breitenbush and Timberline Lodge near Mt.Hood. Completing a fifty mile day was for no reason in particular, other than bragging rights (positive) and the potential to give yourself an injury (negative). On balance hopefully the positive would strike out the negative. Although we had spoken of the fifty challenge however, myself and FlyBy were not entirely the most convinced parties to it. When we didnt see Outro, we had largely decided to call it, and not attempt it at all. As we woke up this morning, little did we know that Outro had actually passed us by this morning, but given our late finish, we opted for a late start and hadn’t even ventured out of camp when she blew by.
Our morning routine was pretty slow-going, given everything was dripping wet for some reason. It didn’t rain, but this single spot had dampness levels approaching Ireland this morning and it took some time for me to pack up my tent. There was no spots in the sun, so I packed it up wet, which I hate doing (that’s present Peter, making future Peter pay for his mistakes).It was a short few miles of a walk to Ollalie Lake resort, and since we departed around 8AM, the sun was already high in the sky as we passed some pretty lakes and an incredible view back to Mt.Jefferson. I was pretty bummed to have missed that view in closeup, but it was quite the spectacle to see it from afar against a deep blue sky.
Ollalie Lake was supremely pretty, a remote outpost of civilization with a warm wood stove burning inside and coffee available for people like ourselves who wanted to lounge on the steps admiring the view. But for a few campers, packing up to depart, the “resort” was all-quiet. We looked at the visitor book, and only then realized that we had only just missed Outro this morning. She was currently being pursued by Caveman, as it seems she had left her wallet in the store, with some messages in the logbook listing Caveman as attempting to catch up to her!
After an hour of lounging around, and with a can of Mountain Dew added to my food arsenal, we set off on the trail around 11AM. The skies were clear and it was a beautiful cool, pleasant day for a hike.
Enjoying some trail side thimbleberries was an unexpected luxury along the trail today (they look like a broad but shallow raspberry). I had not seen these little fellows before, although most of the various bushes were stripped bare for the most part, we did pass by many stands of overripe huckleberries.
Our first big water source of the day was an interesting spring-fed pond named Trooper Spring. FlyBy ate some instant potatoes whilst I filtered. Over the course of some conversation we brought up the idea of the fifty mile challenge once again, and pondered whether it was still possible to do it since we’d essentially blown half the morning already. With the words ‘lets just do it’, it was cemented in stone. We packed up and hit the trail with far more miles ahead of us today than was worth thinking about
It was a pretty low key day of hiking. The heights were not too high, the depths were not too low, but as a result it was mentally tough, with few views and many long sections between waypoints. Eventually reaching some dirt roads, the trail descended to a really beautiful camp spot but an interesting river crossing. Caveman was already settling in for the evening as we stopped for some dinner. I cracked my Mountain Dew for the haul ahead and ate some ramen. As we hit the trail again, darkness fell, with our view gradually changing to that of a wide pleasant footpath through stands of old growth trees.
Descending into darkness, and with flashlamps at the ready we passed by a number of interesting trail encampments including one enormous wooden entryway by a horse camp.
It seemed like a shame to be walking such a distance in the dark, but by the terrain we saw from the heights yesterday, it seemed like today’s hiking would have been entirely inside the treeline if we had broken it into 2 days of hiking, so I was not too worried. We took a long break at Oak Grove Fork, before the trail lined up with Timothy Lake, an enormous lake that provided some light water-lapping sounds to the evenings hiking. We crossed Crater Creek over a pleasant bridge (mile 2076) before seeing a trail cutoff for Little Crater Lake, a deep blue mini-version of its namesake, but sadly not worth the effort in the dark. Given many people said that this little lake was really beautiful during the day, its probably the biggest sacrifice of our night hike.
At this point we were well advanced in our challenge, as was the night. As we hauled up one continuous long ridge, FlyBy relayed that he thought he had fallen asleep on his feet. Funnily enough it seemed like we were polar opposites, My legs were aching but my mind was clear, whilst FlyBy had no pains but was falling asleep on his feet!
Coming to the final road crossing at Highway 26, I used the bathroom and marked the time as 1:45AM. We’d been hiking at this point since 8AM, so it was certainly a long day on our feet. We ascended one last hill, and past a half dozen hikers camped on the trail, obviously some of these had also completed a fifty miler and simply dropped in-situ when they hit the five-zero! As we approached Barlow Pass, we finally broke the 50mile mark. It was 3AM and we were thoroughly exhausted. That type of exhaustion you get when you cannot even find a camp spot, despite there being many right in front of your nose. As rain drops began to fall on my tent, I made some instant potatoes, before falling asleep with them in my arms in bed. An unceremonious end to the days triumph!