Days 68-69 – Wilson Rd. To ShaLe lake liMited entry area
June 16-17 | SOBO Miles 582-630
Sunday was another blessedly uncomplicated day, though at this point we were (somewhat ridiculously) getting a tad bored of how easy the trail had become. Where was all the drama??
The trail guided us through some rolling ups and downs through burnt areas that offered little respite from solar radiation (as the guys call it when they tell me I need to put on more sunscreen–they are concerned about premature aging).
At lunch they both opted for midday naps. This isn’t a camping trip but today it felt like one. I, on the other hand, was eyeing a sweet lake on the map and made a beeline for its shores while the dudes dozed, fueled by fistfuls of sour gummi bears and some ABBA.
A phone call home–it was Father’s Day after all–and an easy ridge walk later, I had arrived at Jude Lake. I plunked down on a wooden footbridge and took a load off, letting my hair down and jamming out to my tunes at the edge of the clear blue water.
After 30 minutes of chilling and prepping my ramen dinner (I’ve decided that soaking 2-3 hours in advance results in the most optimal fluffy noodle texture) Store Brand caught me in the middle of my private concert and I, bridge troll, had to make way so he could pass. No riddles involved but there were peanut butter M&M’s given.
I rolled onward toward Olallie Lake, where we would stay for the night. I bought some cold milk from the nice lady at the little store and settled into my tent with some Crunch Berries to watch the Ted Bundy movie with Zac Efron. DISTURBING, but good.
The following morning we were prepared for what we knew we would hit eventually. Our old friend…
Mt. Jefferson gave us the hairy eyeball for a few miles before hitting us with the white stuff around 6000 feet.
Losing the trail under snow, we decided to throw caution to the wind and hike straight up the slope to shave off miles and unnecessary route finding. We stomped our way up the exposed face of the mountain and had a pretty giddy time with it, relishing every quad-busting step.
We lunched and dried socks and feet at our highest point for the day before sloppily glissading and foot-skiing down the other side of the mountain into Jefferson Park. From there the trail spat us into a burn area interrupted by a few little creeks before leading us back up a sun-drenched ridge as the afternoon light began to wane.
We ran into some characters as we hit more snow just before dusk: Red Dog, a hilarious badass Texan ultrarunner who had been following our tracks for the past few days, and Mumbler & Fumbler, a father-son duo who had allegedly gotten lost and gone in circles at least three times that day. Not taking their chances, the duo followed their Red Dog guide onward into the snow, first using our set tracks and then forging their own as we set up camp (sweet! Free navigation for us tomorrow morning!).
Our first campsite of choice turned out to be under snow, so we ended up finding some primo dry spots a mile or so later amidst slush near the frozen Shale Lake. We goofed for a while in the blissfully chilly mosquito-free evening air before retreating to our tents for Netflix hour. The snow isn’t always the worst.