Thursday, January 10, 2013

Day 41: July 4, 2012

July 4, 2012.

Day: 41   Daily Miles: 46   Total Miles: 1812.25   Hours Hiking: 16   8:05am-11:50pm

Listen to the audio journal above or Download July 4th Audio File Here

Day 41
Mt. McLoughlin and the cinder coated trail.

 July 4, Day 41. Independence Day, yee haa... I made it 46 miles even last night ending at mileage 1812.25. I stopped at the junction for the Ranger Spring Trail about 20 miles away from the road in Crater Lake National Park, so I'll be there tomorrow. Anyways, it was an interesting day...actually I have a waypoint for my campsite... I stopped at 0567880 E 4726203 N. Yesterday was an interesting day. Basically, because I stayed up so late hiking the night before...or I don't know..but for some reason I slept in. I didn't get up and leave until about 8am. I was 4 miles short of where I really wanted to be which was the shelter, but you know, things don't always go as planned. I was slow to the get-go and was kind of dragging actually. I've noticed that sometimes when I sleep in more than my normal, that I can have a hard time in the morning. I made it to the shelter, which was an easy stroll through the woods, flat, and then I came to the cinders, or well the lava flows off Mt. McLoughlin that they've really done a nice job with the trail, by making a level way through the big bouldery fields of the lava. They've covered the trail with dirt or with cinders to make a nice flat path. The trail is really neat, really stark contrast with the dark grey-blue of the lava and the red or brown dirt. It makes for nice photos. So a little ways into that, I was just not feeling the energy. I had no go-power. I stopped, had some sugar, some food...with the sugar, I figured my lack of energy might be my blood sugar, and it seemed to be. I was having a similar feeling as when I had giardia. I was a little worried but it was definitely a blood sugar thing, once I kicked the blood sugar up, I had energy again. So I decided to start listening to a Science Friday podcast and like 5 minutes into that I look up a little
One of the only views from the side of Mt. McLoughlin.
hill ahead of me and see someone coming. I do my obligatory shut off the music and pull out an earbud so I could talk to them or hear them...and when the person gets close to me, I realize it's my brother! *laughs* Which, was a complete and utter surprise, because I'm still a good 6 miles away from any road or anything. But the way it goes is that the day before I had talked to my parents and had told them roughly where I was thinking about heading for the night...they like to follow along, they had the map out and were like 'ohh where are you at??' And, I guess my brother was driving back down to California from Washington and he had talked to my parents and they were like 'oh, he's....Ryan will be..' they just did the math of if I was at such and such a place, that he'll be crossing highway 140 at roughly XX time. And so, he drove and parked at the crossing at night...spent the night at the trail head and in the morning about 9am or something like that, he just started hiking backwards to meet me. If I had known, I probably would have had a little bit more energy, but I started late, I was short of my estimated destination, so he had to walk a hell of a lot further than I think he ever anticipated, but he was all about it, not a big deal {gave him a taste of what I've been doing for the last 40 days!}. So I had a good 1.5 hour chat with him all the way back until Highway 140, where he had a little bit of food. It was cool. It was really one of those unexpected things that make your day better. There was a little trail magic a little ways in, so I had a soda and I actually saved it for later. He left, shoot probably..I don't know...I probably spent an extra hour with him, so I was even more behind. But sometimes it just doesn't matter. I then stated up the Mt. Mcloughlin trail and it's a fairly slow climb up and around the mountain through the trees. A good like 17 miles of just tree walking, it's pretty boring because you don't have any views except for at one point you see a lake. Then, finally, you get up to the long ridge that leads to Devils Peak, and once there, you get some views because you're up high. However, 
A not so fun snow field crossing.
the snow had started before that in patches. Up until about mile 1803, I had crossed about 50 snow patches {I was counting!}, which weren't difficult at all and didn't really slow you down, but they were across the trail and you couldn't avoid them. Once you hit 1803, you're on the ridge where the Divide Trail splits off and the PCT takes a westward turn, so you have to cross the north face/the back side of a mountain. Basically, there's where it starts getting 'fun'. That's where I started losing count on how many snow drifts I had crossed because it got serious. That crossing wasn't soo bad, as a couple people had been across it before me, so there were footprints and the snow was soft on account of me being there at the end of the day, around 8pm. So nothing too bad at all, but when I got up and over to... Well prior to this I had had the soda, so I was feeling good. I knew I needed to get over Devils Peak before it was totally dark, because if I had to wait until the morning, it would probably be very icy or at least have time to harden up. So that was a big thing, since I knew there was going to be a large snowfield... Following the ridge it turned from these snow patches to some more snow patches to a snow field then you're up on another ridge that was minimal snow here and there. Thankfully, we went around the west side of one of the little peaks you go by, and that was a little more difficult, as there were tall snow drifts on trails on an uphill, so you had to climb up the big face and then kind of flat walk to the trail. But, the hard part was when you come to a little saddle and switchbacked to the east side, where there was a cornice and a HUGE snowfield, with not what I would consider serious consequences if you fell, but a steep down for about 100-150 you didn't want to fall. The trail poked out in only a couple places along this big face, but thankfully the snow was really slushy for having been on an east face and had had the whole day to warm up. Kicking steps was just a matter of stepping
 down hard and making a big hole - not quite postholing, so it was pretty nice. That being said, it wasn't that difficult, but it did slow me down. Once I got back into the trees, the drifts started up intermittently again all the way until about the last 1/4 mile before Devils Peak which wasn't snow covered. At the point where the switchback turns and starts heading down, there's this most amazing tiny little cowboy campsite on this point next to a tree that overlooks all of the ridge that you have just come up. I actually met Billy Goat there in 2009, he was hunkered down for the night, when I met him there in the evening.... When I came around that little corner and looked down, it was just a solid steep snow field, which I was expecting, that's why I was pushing so hard. I had arrived there a little ahead of what I had estimated, right around 9:40pm or so. So it was dark, but the more or less full moon was up, so it wasn't super dark. I had already taken my flashlight out and was holding it in my teeth just so I could see better {while navigating the snow patches with my trekking poles}. You know, the only way down from this point is to just go down. There really was no...easy way down. It looked like other people had glisaded...I walked down to a little less steep portion and turned my feet sideways and started sliding down with my feet perpendicular to the down direction and trailed my trekking pole behind me, to kind of arrest myself a little bit. About 1/4 of the way down it turned icy and I couldn't really stop or check my speed so I had to dig my fingers and knee into the snow and skidded to about half way down the slope where it changed slope again and was a little less steep and got back slushy. So, I stood back up and shoe skied the rest of the way down. In all it cut, well it didn't really cut, but i bypassed the switchbacks which equated to about 1/2 a mile worth of trail, yet it still took a good long ways to get out of the snow. The first little bit was done. I had to walk through some trees and I was still on the side of a really steep bowl, I found another snow slope, skied down that, walked over and down some more, skied down that. If I hadn't had the GPS, I would have been totally lost. There was just snow covering everything, you
were in the trees and you would not be able to find the trail in the dark. That was fun. Actually it was some of the.... It's the only fun I can remember having so far on this trail. It was one of those...a little bit of an adrenaline rush and something totally different from what I have done so far, and kind of adventurous. So, once I plodded down through the snow and had to track down the trail, I proceeded to have to hop up and over all the rest of the snow banks. I mean there was snow all the way down to the 5000 foot elevations just hanging out in the trees, so that means the rest of Oregon is going to have a ton as well. The little adrenaline kept me going. I just kept plodding on. I didn't feel super tired when I finally hit camp at about 11:40pm, but when you sit down you're like " OHHH I'm so glad I'm sitting down!' I made dinner, took care of most of my things, but didn't do my foot maintenance. I left that for the morning and went to sleep somewhere after 12am. So it was a late night, but I got the miles done and basically having woken up late and having an extra hour of off I feel like I did OK, especially considering all of the snow.

In addition to July 4, I forgot that I had actually postholed and kind of hyper extended my right knee. It's the knee that I've felt little twinges of pain in for a good little while now. When I sit cross-legged at night, I can't really move that leg on it's own without feeling this sharp lighting bolt pain shoot down out of my knee. So usually I just pick it up and move it to a position where I can move it again more easily. It's just made it hurt more. So, I'm going to have to keep an eye on that. You know, I don't really want to do any permanent damage, more-so than I already have I guess. I've got to get 20 miles or so to Crater Lake and get a resupply. I'm pretty sure I'll eat at the buffet, then have a fun climb and then get a beautiful view, then I get to drop down. So, it should be a pretty good day once I get to Crater Lake. Currently I'm walking though this big burn area that I don't remember. It's kind of sad. I've still got about 15 miles to away a ways, a ways.
Sunset from around mile 1800.