From mile 1794 to Stuart Falls Camp (4 miles off the PCT)
I suffered from night before a thirty mile day anxiety. Symptoms include not sleeping well, confusion about what time it is, worrying, and restlessness. It makes for a quick night. When my alarm did go off it took a lot of effort to decided to get up.
It was so peaceful in the tent that I forgot all about the mosquitoes waiting for me. They hadn't forgotten about Portrait or me. I was on their breakfast menu. They made packing up a quick chore, eating was done quickly as well. Whenever I have to put on DEET first thing in the morning I don't anticipate having a peaceful day.
The trail was great for walking. I felt like I was speeding along. Portrait stopped a couple miles into the day and I kept going. It took him two and a half miles to catch up. I also passed the Fasties from yesterday-they were still in camp.
Not long after Portrait caught back up the trail went upwards to an exposed ridge and the 1800 mile marker. Someone had built one out of lava rocks. We stopped for pictures, phone tasks, and snacks. The ridge was miraculously free of mosquitoes so it made for a wonderful place to stay for a half hour.
The Fasties passed us one by one. Data stopped to talk water strategy with us. There was a fifteen mile dry stretch all the way into the Village of Mazama and the water before that, Jack Spring was .5 miles off trail. Data told us about Stuart Falls alternate that had plenty of water, was about the same distance as the PCT and had camping. He said it used to be the PCT until they changed it in the 70's. It sounded pretty good to Portrait and I.
Finally it was time to move on. The trail continued to stay up on the ridge. It was really beautiful, and not at all what I expected from Oregon. I had expected more deep forest and less sweeping views of Oregon's tallest peaks and large blue lakes. To the south of us the views were hidden by a thick blanket of smoke. We could only assume that we were seeing the smoke from the 13,000 acre fire that started on the PCT just north of the town of Belden. I could taste the occasional thread of smoke when the wind blew the right way.
We made it to the top of the ridge and started down the other side. Everything was rock, from the trail underfoot to the high cliffs above us. I was still wondering where the Oregon trees were, but I wasn't missing them at all.
From the top of the ridge it was only a couple of miles to the main water source for the day. It was a small seasonal stream that the trail was going to cross about four times. The guide book recommended grabbing water from the first crossing because each crossing afterwards the water was going to be a little more sluggish. I drank my fill and filled up my bottles. The Fasties joined us there, and we went over the alternate route again just to make sure everybody knew where to go for water. Then Portrait and I moved on. We wanted to get a couple more miles in before lunch.
The Fasties must have stayed at the first crossing for lunch because we didn't see them until we were packing up after our lunch. We then passed them at the next stream crossing. They caught up quickly on an uphill but we all had to stop to let a team of houses come down the trail.
The Fasties pulled ahead as the trail went through a very dusty burn section. All the dead trees had broken off about twenty feet up. Their bark had fallen off and their bones were bleached white. The wind stirred up the dust and made a dust devil that we watched for a few minutes. The devil was strong enough to rip off small tree debris. Then it just fizzled out.
We passed by Jack's spring which was a half mile off the ridge and off trail. We'd heard that it was a nasty little spring with more floaties than water. It was just over a mile to the turn off to Stuart Falls trail junction from Jack's spring. We stopped for a snack at the junction.
I finished off all my snack food at the break, but less than a half mile down the Stuart Falls trail I was starving. I felt like I hadn't eaten all day. There's few things that bug me while hiking more than having my food just vanish and leave me with no energy. As we got closer to the camping area I started closing myself off from Portrait who was trying to engage me in conversation about getting to camp, but I just had to focus on getting to camp.
Once there I forgot about food and my hunger at the sight of the waterfall. Stuart Falls was beautiful. And make your feet hurt cold. The Fasties had all gone for a dip, but it was too cold for me. I waded in and washed off, but even that was a challenge--it was just too cold. It made great drinking water though.