The trail continued passing through the mostly dead forest first thing in the morning. A lot of trees were down-although nothing like the downed trees around Red's Meadow. These were just little things, but it got old stepping over them. And the mosquitoes loved to pounce whenever I had to pause to get over a log. It was a DEET kind of morning.
We met Team Spiderbark: two southbounders who said they were the first and as far as they knew the only southbounders that had come from Canada without skipping. They seemed proud-and with the amount of snow they had to deal with, they should be proud.
We hiked on in the trees with the bugs. I felt a lot better than the day before, but still in a bit of a cloud. I felt a little disconnected from myself and the trail and still had my headache.
Shortly before noon we left Crater Lake National Park at a road crossing. We seemed to leave the dead forest and most of the mosquitoes behind at the road. The other side the forest was much greener.
We stopped a couple miles later for lunch. I picked at my food eating my Skittles but not much out. I was more tired than hungry although I was really starting to miss my hiker's hunger: it does wonders to make a foodbag lighter. I didn't nap at this lunch break, although I regretted that as soon as we got underway hiking again.
The trail was mostly flat for another couple of miles and then it started a five mile climb. Before getting to the climb I was pretty sure it was going to take a huge toll on me, but I felt okay on the way up. The grade was gentle and the trail was dirt with a dusting of pine needles. It was about as nice as I could have asked for.
We would get glimpses of Thielsen as we climbed, but those quick peeks through trees were nothing compared to sitting at the top of the climb just a mile from the summit. It was a beautiful mountain-painted rock that came to a needles point. There was a one mile side trail to the top. I could tell Portrait wanted to do it, and I did, too, but not that day. I told him I'd wait for him at the creek, but he decided not to go up.
|Snow near Thielsen|
From there the trail started back down. We crossed our biggest snow field in Oregon, which is to say we walked on perfectly flat snow for a minute. At one snowbank someone had left a small pile of snowballs. I used some snow to clean off my hands-they get so dirty in long dry stretches.
We were less than two miles from the creek and camp. I was ready to call it a day. My back was tired and I wanted that creek. My water was almost gone-my pack was feeling much lighter. I actually drank my last sips standing at the side trail to the creek.
While we were down there filling up with the cold mountain water I saw a southbounder reach the creek and then heard him yell out "Portrait!" It was Lemur, a southbound section hiker who Portrait had known on the AT last year. They spent the rest of the evening catching up with I drank hot chocolate for my dinner and then went to my tent.