Today's miles: 26
Total miles: 1913
Today was one of those magical days where we hiked 26 miles but actually traveled 36 PCT miles.
Katie took off early this morning but Treekiller, Sunshine and I stayed behind to talk to the south bounder Jason and to tell him all the places he should eat and visit in his upcoming towns in California. When we finally left camp it was 8:00 and we had a long day ahead of us. We hiked six miles to a highway where there was a PCT detour called the Oregon Skyline Trail. There were four distinct reasons for us to hike the Skyline Trail instead of the PCT:
1. The OST was 10 miles shorter than the PCT
2. The OST saved 500 feet of elevation over the PCT
3. The OST had more frequent water sources
4. If we took the OST, we would be at Shelter Cove Resort by the end of the day
So, in the end, it was an easy choice.
The Skyline Trail turned out to be a very hot and dusty trail, and unfortunately the frequent water sources were small ponds that took a lot of effort to get drinkable water. We stopped for lunch at noon near a small lake, feeling very lethargic and overheated. Katie had a box at Shelter Cove that she needed to pick up before they closed at 7pm, so she estimated that she'd need to hike at 3mph all day without breaks in order to make it in time. So she took off early while Sunshine, Treekiller and I lagged behind, going slower.
I hiked ahead of Treekiller and Sunshine for a while, enjoying the quietness of the trail on my own. I stopped for a break at 3:00 and was soon joined by the boys. While checking our maps we discovered that there was a "swimmable lake" nearby, and all of us were eager to go in the water. There was a family camping on the beach of the lake, and after asking permission to use their beach, the three of us ran into the water and soaked ourselves free of trail dirt and sweat. The water was pleasantly warm and perfect, and it was a great way to spend an afternoon. We lazily paddled around the water, telling trail stories to the family and trying not to smile at the questions their teenage daughters asked us:
"So how many outfits do you carry with you?"
We gestured to the clothes we were wearing. "This is it!"
They gaped. "What! I wouldn't last two days on the PCT!"
It was late afternoon then and we knew we had to move on. But feeling refreshed, we walked with a spring in our step and along a horse trail for the remainder of the day. We still had ten miles to go. The boys pushed over more trees as we trekked and a few miles in we stopped for a long dinner break. When I packed up and asked, "shall we keep hiking?" they both said, "no!!"
I laughed, enjoying this mentality. I often hiked with people who were insistent that we go, go, go, and it was nice to just sit and enjoy the moment for a little while longer.
As the evening set in, we walked along a beautiful river and through a lush forest that reminded me very closely of the beautiful trails of the Columbia River Gorge. As it got darker, we grew tired and wished we were finished hiking. We at last arrived at Shelter Cove at 9:30 and discovered that Sneaks, Mudd, Dingo, Coincidence and Katie were all there waiting for us. We joined their campsite and went quickly to bed; these long days of hiking can be very exhausting. Tonight my feet hurt so badly that I had to take a handful of painkillers in order to sleep.