Burning Hot Lava

August 14
PCT Mile 1950

Nice phrase, eh? Credit goes to my kids, who could never just say “lava,” it was always “burning hot lava.” So wherever I see the stuff that’s how I think of it. There was no burning hot lava on this stretch, just lots of the cooled down rock, and since I’m stil just writing this blog on my phone I’m not going to Wikipedia the proper terms for the massive fields of black scree lava, the trail built of red cinders and all the other manifestations of volcanic activity that Jackie and I walked through when we hit the trail out of Callahan’s near Ashland.

Jackie joined me for 3 days, doing 18 mile days right out of the blocks, pretty impressive! It was fun sharing the thru-hiking experience with a friend. She met Sparrow, and listened in as we shared trail news and gossip of hikers ahead, behind and off the trail. We got to know The Ravens, an extraordinary family of 4, who I last saw Day 3, Ann, Tim, 10-year old Little Crow, and 13-year-old Bling. Look for their daily blog on the PCTA website. We talked with Woodpecker, whose wife was also a guest-hiker for “3 weeks or 3 months.”

Jackie left the trail with a box of rocks to mail for the Ravens, and gave a ride to the trail angel who made us all breakfast burritos back at the Lake Isabella campground. Oh, and Keith and Nick brought me a burger and beer and their dogs!  I had to let the dogs get back in the car though, dang.

Back on the trail and a rather boring slog to Crater Lake National Park, enlivened by discovering Milkshake and Sticky Buns also took time off. I stayed in the backpackers section at Mazama Village, managing to do the usual chores (shower, laundry, resupply, drink beer, charge all the devices, eat real food) by 8:30 the following morning. I hiked up to the PCT alternate route, the Rim Trail, and soon picked up 6 liters of water for a 29 mile dry stretch, and I picked up an attitude.

So here I am, clean, silver haired, amiable, with a backpack and hiking sticks, walking along the Rim Trail which parallels a paved road with frequent tourist turnouts filled with frequent tourists venturing a yard or two down the trail to peer over the rim into the lake. As on the regular PCT, I greet everyone, but this bunch avoided eye contact, even the uniformed Rangers giving informative talks couldn’t say “hey”, a few tourists actually scuttled away when they saw me approaching. I suggest Crater Lake National Park institute a fundraiser to provide additional helpful signage along with the usual signage indicating bears are present and you will fall off the Rim if you get too close:


May be identified by their lean, hungry, filthy appearance, possible odor, backpacks, rapid walking gait, and slightly blissful smiles.

Do not speak to them. They may bite. Do not try to walk past them, they’re faster than you.

Avoid eye contact. If one approaches you, quickly place whatever food or beverages, especially beer, that you have on the ground in front of you and slowly back away. Don’t watch what happens next.

OK, so I was tired, carrying a to of water and food and made it just 20 miles, camping by the side of the trail on lovely piles of duff in a tiny forest growing back through downed and rotting trees from an old burn. Slept great. And determined that if I hiked 29 miles the next day I wouldn’t have to haul water to camp. So I did, lovely soft, flat Oregon PCT, longest miles in a day so far and it took me less than 12 hours. Woot woot.

Sometimes it seems like you just pound miles to get to your next food box. Shelter Cove Resort is beautiful, I got there in the morning, stayed for 5 hours (gotta charge that battery charger, takes time) and ate 2 Costco poppyseed muffins, 1 Dr Pepper, 3 Gatorades, 1 tiny bottle Chardonnay and a large hot dog. Visited with other hikers including SOBO dog Echo and her man hiker. I love dogs, I love seeing them on the trail and in the towns. I love horses, mules, grouse, deer, naughty chipmunks and squirrels. I would love kitties on the trail but nobody brings them, so I’m holding out for a bobcat or mountain lion or Lynx or anything else sneaky and feline.

It has been smoky, and it’s getting cool at night. Sunrise is later.  Seasons changing.

Just when I didn’t think this trail could get any better, celebrity hiker Billy Goat appeared hiking south. Go watch the wonderful PCT documentary Go Tell It On The Mountain.

I’ve got some photos from this section but I’ll post them in a separate blog.  I’m writing this in my tent in the noisy Elk Lake Resort Campground. I had to eat some real food and this is the price I pay.  I’ll get up early and get back on the trail.  Meeting my buddy Tarcey on the trail in 2 days, got to get 45 miles in!  I love this life.

5 thoughts on “Burning Hot Lava

  1. In 2 days when Tarcy shows up you will be staring hard at the 2,000 mile mark! Another major milestone in the offing. Congrats!


  2. Michele and I love your post and pics! We get excited whenever we see the by-line and make sure the other has seen it! Keep on truckin’.


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