Days 77-81 – tipsoo peak to ashlAnd
June 25-29 | SOBO Miles 791.3-935.4
We cranked out the remaining 150 miles or so of Oregon at a pretty good clip with most of the snow behind us.
It began with Mt. Thielsen, where apparently there have been multiple recent rescues, and where we reached our unofficial halfway point on trail (1325 miles). We celebrated by making snow cones on sticks flavored with green tea Mio.
The descent from Thielsen took us down onto the brushy, dry forest floor and across the boundary of Crater Lake National Park.
We camped right off the rim and woke up the following morning just as the sun was rising, hot orange light dotting the volcanic landscape leading up to the lake. Of course, there was some snow.
Making it to the rim, I was blown away. Crater Lake exceeded any image of it I had in my mind. It was vast and wide and a deep, pristine blue that seemed impossible. It was unbelievable.
I then dropped by the park post office, where we had a box waiting, but since we had too much food as we were moving at a blazing speed, we bounced it to Caribou Crossing in Belden. Dawn, the super nice postal lady, gave me her banana and I was eternally grateful. She thought I looked hungry (and told the guys that when they got there too).
We chilled at Mazama Village for the rest of the afternoon, taking advantage of the laundry facilities, chargers, and 75¢ showers, and making friends with some families traveling through the park. I got a Snickers ice cream bar and used Vaseline to condition my hair in the absence of any soap. We hiked out that night and camped near a big burn area as a storm rolled in.
The next morning’s challenge was Devil’s Peak, which apparently only had only a mile of snow, but it was steep and sketchy.
We made it to the top in typical fashion, bushwhacking through snow and trees and scrambling up steep fields of scree in lieu of taking the snow-buried switchbacks. We were kicking in our own steps on the near 45° slope. It was… definitely an adrenaline rush.
Once we’d summitted, we knew we’d conquered our last snowy Oregon peak. We cruised downhill and ran into some long-lost friends from Idyllwild, Christine and Papers, coming NOBO, and had a little reunion.
From there the trail skirted past more pretty lakes and tree-lined vistas.
Some lava fields shook things up. It was around this point that we started meeting NOBOs coming in hordes, having flipped up to Ashland. In the remaining days to go before we got to Callahan’s Lodge we would see 30-40 each day which was a complete shock to the system after nearly a month of complete solitude.
And just 60 miles from Ashland, I started running out of food. Woops. Time to turn up the heat. Store Brand threw me a bone in the form of a few of his overstock snacks and I devised a plan to crank out back-to-back 30 mile days to get to town ahead of the guys (who were in no hurry with their supply of provisions) so I could get a hot meal (and shower…surprise surprise).
Well, my little plan backfired on Friday when Store Brand and Trashcan had the wild idea to go for a 40 mile day, getting to Callahan’s early. When in Oregon, right?
We cooked ourselves up some nice cold ramen and ate it an hour later in a beautiful open meadow as the sun began to set.
Donning our headlamps, we charged into the dark and hiked under the stars until we arrived at camp at 10:45. To celebrate 40 miles and cap off the day I accidentally half-fell into the creek where we got our water at the night’s end, in typical fashion.
Groggy yet accomplished, we were out by 7 the following morning, hiking through cool, open meadows that were like magic carpets taking us to Callahan’s Lodge.
Motivated by sheer hunger and necessity, I hiked straight through the lunch hour all the way down to Callahan’s, showing up just in time to grab some powdered milk from the hiker box and grab a seat at the restaurant for lunch, which was an IPA (hikers get one free beer!), small pear & hazelnut salad, and a Caprese sandwich with fries, all for the reasonable price of $12. What I call a sound investment.
The guys rolled in as I rolled myself out of the restaurant. We charged our phones and power banks and washed just our hands and faces in the bathroom with real running water (observant of the signs on the doors that read “HIKERS PLEASE DO NOT BATHE IN THE SINKS”).
Then it was time to hit the road. Our mission? Get down to Chester, CA to resume the trail where we left off in May. We flexed our thumb muscles, prayed for the best, and prepared for the hitches to come…