Days 74-75 – dumbbell lake to diamond peak alternate
June 22-23 | SOBO Miles 705.9-761ish
We rewarded ourselves for our first 30 with a little sleep-in time followed by an extended breakfast by the lake (Froot Loops with water for me because I’d forgotten to buy milk this go around). Soon enough, though, some pesky mosquitoes evicted me from my nice lakeview sitting log and I was off and walking.
The trail wound past innumerable blue lakes, green ponds, and stagnant brown puddles. The skeeters, loving water as they do, were out in full force. I DEETed and swatted my way 12 miles to lunch, passing Mumbler & Fumbler as well as at least 10 weekenders and 3 NOBO thruhikers all out for a stroll.
After lunch, like an idiot, I neglected to check water sources and unwittingly got myself stuck in a near 10-mile dry section–which also happened to be a burn area–with less than a liter of water. It felt like walking across the desert for 40 days and nights. Towards the end of the ordeal I spotted a rare patch of snow and chipped away at it with my trekking poles to excavate myself a little snow cone. It was enough to carry me to Charlton Lake with its sweet sweet water.
After we had all walked nearly the whole day alone, I fully expected to come upon the guys waiting for me at the lake. And yet, when I arrived... no guys. I was pretty peeved thinking they’d run off on me 22 miles into the day before we could have a conference to plan our camp spot. So I marched up the trail thinking I would show them.
A climb awaited, and within the next 30 minutes I encountered 5 people on their way down the hill. Mostly thruhikers and one dude named Keith. None had seen the bearded twins I described.
Atop the peak of the climb, I reasoned I was now richly and accidentally in first place. I sat and waited for the dudes to show up, which they eventually did, regaling me with stories of each of the 5 people who told them I was looking for them. Trail drama: soap opera meets sitcom. High entertainment value.
We closed out the night, just for giggles, right as we passed (for the second time) 30 miles. Nothing like two back-to-back 30’s to put you in your sleeping bag.
The next morning we paid the price, stiff-jointed and achy. But only 11 miles stood between us and Shelter Cove. There waiting for us sat a big box of food, which we met with both anticipation and dread as we all still had a solid 3 days’ worth of food left (that’s about 10 lbs, give or take). None of us knew how hard we were going to hit the gas on our way out of Bend, and we were just too fast.
On our way down to the beautiful Odell Lake, a gray sedan pulled over for me and the couple inside asked if I was thruhiking. Long story short, Mileage Mike and Care Package were out for a weekend trip and had some trail magic to give, in the form of Oreos, Gatorade, Starbucks Via packets, and an apple. Trashcan rolled up in just enough time to grab his own loot and an extra Gatorade for Store Brand (and he also got to be in their photo).
At the Cove, I nabbed a hot coffee and a hot shower for $2 a piece. We sorted our food and rifled through the hiker box, coming up with some beer, candy, and for me, a (very delicious in hindsight, though I was initially skeptical as it was packaged in an unlabeled Ziploc) vegetarian couscous pesto dinner.
We hit the road again around 2:30. No time to waste with this crew. We opted to take an alternate to the PCT to avoid a few miles of sketchy snow, which lured us through a dry forest before sending us into the literal heart of mosquito Armageddon. I’m talking 50 suckers swarming you at once with no escape. I threw several hissy fits of screaming and running before all was said and done 10 miles later, when I found Store Brand sitting at the trailhead looking just as exhausted and defeated as I felt. We commiserated as we watched a nearby horse roll in the dirt, its owner observing our discomfort and saying, “she’s itchy too.”
When Trashcan pulled up we all agreed we were bone weary tired. We went a mile or two further to a group of good flat spots along a dirt road, retreating into our tents at the dinner hour and each killing the inevitable 3-5 mosquitoes that snuck in there with us. The couscous redeemed everything. Slathered in DEET, I now sleep.