Several people have made the mistake of asking about how my hiking trip on the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) went over an extended Labor Day weekend. A lady at church watched the August 28 council meeting on TV (some people really do) and heard me mention the trip, which prompted another inquiry about the hike. I’m happy to report that it was a great trip, made greater by the luxury of sitting in a chair and writing about it.
My youngest son and I covered about 80 miles in a little less than four days, walking from Highway 58 near Odell Lake to the Rim Village at Crater Lake. The terrain between the two lakes rises and falls many times from a low elevation of about 5,000 feet to something over 8,000 feet at Crater Lake. The scenery along the way is beautiful, with many high points where you can see what looks like an endless forest dotted with mountains and lakes. We didn’t realize, however, that there are relatively few places to get water near the trail between Summit Lake and Crater Lake. We had to pack our own water for the last 25 miles from Thielsen Creek to Rim Village, and we were down to our last swallow by the time we arrived.
The hardest part of the hike was probably the Rim Trail at Crater Lake, where the path goes up and down around the rim so many times I lost count. It also seemed a little unfair that this tough going came at the end of three very long days of hiking. I probably shouldn’t complain about our hike given that we encountered many trekkers who had started their journey in Mexico in March. Most of these people looked remarkably the same, with dark beards (usually just the men), a range of ages between 20 and 30, and absolutely no body fat. The PCT is more than 2,600 miles long, and I would guess the people we met had covered about 1,800 miles of it. We spoke with a few of the long distance hikers, including a guy from Scotland who was using the trail name “Shadowfax.” I remembered the name from The Lord of the Rings as belonging to a magical horse ridden by Gandalf the wizard, and I guess the connection had something to do with epic journeys.
Our journey was not epic, but it was a good time despite the aches, pains, blisters, and just hard work of carrying your home and supplies on your back for so many miles. I think my son is tougher than I am because he developed blisters early in the hike, yet carried on to the end. My concluding advice to anyone who hasn’t done it yet is to get to Crater Lake as quickly as you can. It is one of the most beautiful places in the world, and I find it disturbing that so many Oregonians I’ve spoken to have never been there.