Today's miles: 18
Total miles: 1931
We woke up this morning to see the sunrise come up over the lake. Shelter Cove was a beautiful resort and I lamented that we couldn't spend more time here. We relaxed until 10 am and then decided to push on. Katie wanted to do 25 miles today, but since we got such a late start, it was going to be a long day to do so many miles. Treekiller, Sunshine and I were less enthusiastic about the prospect.
This morning we passed by a string of beautiful blue-green lakes, and it was difficult not to take a break at each one. We paused beside one of the Rosary Lakes to dip our feet in and watch the crawfish swimming through the rocks. We teased Treekiller about his recent text conversations with MK, the woman we had met at Crater Lake. They had been conversing quite often in the past few days. Sunshine offered his advice about what Treekiller should write to her, and his suggestions were usually hilarious.
"She asked me how many miles we did yesterday," Treekiller read aloud.
"Here's what you say," Sunshine said in a deadpan voice, "'due to my charisma and outstanding leadership skills, I motivated my group to hike 26 miles yesterday with morale at an all-time high for the day. By the way, did you know that some say age 36 is the peak of sexual prowess?"
We were cracking up and telling Treekiller that he should let Sunshine write all his texts.
When we took a lunch break at 2:00 we had only covered eight miles for the day. We sat quietly eating food, contemplating the rest of our day. Our next destination was the town of Bend, which was accessible from several different points. Elk Lake Resort was in another 40-ish miles, or you could walk to McKenzie Pass (HWY 242) in 60-ish miles, or Santiam Pass (HWY 20) in 80-ish miles to catch a hitch into town. Our old hiking friends Boulder and Scooter, who left the trail in Yosemite and now lived in Bend, had offered to give Sunshine a ride into town from Elk Lake. Katie wanted to hike to one of the highways to get a ride into town, and Treekiller and I were undecided about which would be best. All we knew was that we were tired of these long days and late nights and needed a reprieve.
Katie hiked on ahead while Sunshine, Treekiller and I stopped at Bobby Lake two miles later to fill up our water. None of us was interested in hiking out quickly. We swam in the lake, ate a snack, and sat on tree logs enjoying the view while we looked over maps again. It was 4pm and we had only gone 10 miles. Katie wanted to do another 14, but we discussed our options.
"It makes no sense to push ourselves really hard today," Treekiller pointed out. "Elk Lake isn't that far away. We could either do difficult 24 miles today, do another hard day tomorrow and get there really late, or we could do 18 miles today, camp at Charlton Lake, hike an easy day tomorrow and only have a few miles in to the resort on the following morning."
That made sense to Sunshine and me, mostly because we had no intention of doing another 14 miles today when our feet were so tired.
"I'm sick of hiking after 7:00," Sunshine said.
"If we camp at Charlton we only have to do eight more miles," Treekiller said.
That sealed it. We sent a note to Katie telling her our plans (she wasn't planning on going to Bend from Elk Lake, anyway) and hiked on. Even though we were doing a short day today, by the time we got to Charlton Lake at 7:00 it felt as though we had pulled a 30 mile day. We were aching and exhausted. We needed this short day, for sure. It was the first time we had arrived at camp before 9:30 in days, and the first time we had time to eat dinner, as well.
Charlton Lake was beautiful. We were all delighted by our decision to stay there. The campsite was right along the water's edge and after setting up our tents we enjoyed a gorgeous sunset over the lake and a beautiful full moon rise. It was peaceful and I realized how much stress flowed out of me this afternoon when I didn't have to hike 14 miles after 4pm. I needed this.
We were in bed before 9:00pm and it felt wonderful.