So after months of preparation and packing and repacking and stressing out about food and how far to hike and having to change our plans multiple times due to forest fires and things, we finally set off.
We got an early start. Stalker met us at our house and we loaded up the 4Runner and headed off to pick up The Professor and The Yogi and be on our way. Fortunately picking them up was on the way so we didn’t loose much time.
On the way to our starting point the excitement was building. We were having a good time talking about last minute details and pack weights and what a good time we were about to have. We were like children about to head into a candy store!Soon we were on the turnoff for Timothy Lake. Then the dilemma began. Did we start at Little Crater Lake, or did we head further down the road to the big Pacific Crest Trail sign. Sure it would add 5 miles to our hike but we were fresh and ready to go and ready to throw caution to the wind for the chance to take our picture with the big sign that signified, YES, we are hiking on the PCT!
As we unloaded the excitement continued to build. We were about to set off, on foot and be on our own for a whole 8 days! We ran to the sign, even though it was on the wrong side of the road, facing the southbound path! It also had red tape and detour signs because of the forest fires but we didn’t care. We were headed north; the stupid sign placement wasn’t going to stop us from our picture taking glory so the world would know we were starting on the PCT!
We got our pictures, hugged my wife and said our goodbyes and headed off into the wilderness. We were southeast a bit from Timothy Lake so we had to hike for a bit until we saw it. Starting out on the hike we noticed how heavy our packs were (mine weighed in at a hefty 45lbs) but we didn’t care. We were hiking on the PCT.
We could do anything, and as the week went on the packs would only get lighter, right?
The trail was pretty. The temperature was moderate and we felt good.
When we finally reached the lake we took a little break, ate some snacks and decided to stop and have lunch at Little Crater Lake. That would be 5 miles into our hike for the day and we figured that would be just below halfway to our destination for the night. It was a great plan!
We continued on through some beautiful terrain. If you have never hiked around Timothy Lake I would recommend it. It is an easy hike and has some great views. There is even a cool little section across a swampy area where you get to walk on some bridges! Bridges are cool! Yeah!
We finally got to the trailhead to go to Little Crater Lake. It was about ½ mile out of our way but we were feeling good and it is very pretty there and we figured a great place to sit and have lunch before we continued on with our journey.
If you have never been to Little Crater Lake, it is a natural spring in a big deep hole where the water is so clear and cold you can see down to the very bottom. It is so deep that you lose certain spectrums of light so the water is a very cool shade of blue. There is your science lesson for today kids!
We sat and ate and enjoyed the view of the crisp clear water. We again laughed about how much food we had brought. The Professor and Yogi showed us their giant bag of granola and some bread/cracker thing they made that was rock hard and full of nutrition and didn’t taste too bad as long as you didn’t break a tooth trying to eat it.
I of course had tried to make my food as light as possible and had a package of Salmon with some Mayo and Mustard packets for lunch, along with some trail mix. I have to say it was not the most flavorful and delicious thing to eat but it worked…. Granted, I had the same thing planned for lunch most days and after the first serving I was already tired of it… I suppose that wasn’t a good thing but this trip wasn’t supposed to be all puppy dogs and rainbows! Sacrifices had to be made for the better good and if it was a variety of flavors, so be it!
At the end of our little lunch break as we were packing up an older man and his family came to check out Little Crater Lake. They asked us where we were going and how many days and then got all excited when we told them. They demanded a picture of us, as we were, “The real thing!” We politely let them take our picture and then headed on our way.
We were once again excited to be back on the trail. Wandering through the woods, happily chatting and telling jokes and just having a generally good time. We knew that one of the landmarks we would have to cross was a forest service road. Things were pretty easy going and eventually we got to the road. Crossed it with no problem and then met a lady and her dog coming down the trail.
The lady stopped and asked us what trail this was. We politely answered, “The Pacific Crest Trail.” She thanked us and went on her way. Stalker and I looked at each other quizzically when we realized that we were on the only trail around for a while… not to mention this lady didn’t really look like someone who would be out for a hike with her little dog and wasn’t really dressed for much of any outdoor activity that involved any kind of distance or longevity.
No matter, we continued on!
Soon we realized that things were starting to take a turn. The trail was getting much steeper and it was getting much warmer. We were now in the dry section of the woods and it was hot and the trail just kept continuing up and up and up. Suddenly the full weight of my pack became a bit more realistic and troublesome.
We knew that our next landmark was another forest service road and we all agreed that stopping there for another break would be a great idea! We arrived shortly and all made noises of relieve and joy as we unstrapped our heavy packs of evil from our back and collapsed on the ground to rest for a few minutes.
We probably actually rested for about ½ an hour before we decided we might as well finish the rest of the day. We were greeted with more uphill and we were starting to feel a bit tired.
Stalker and I stopped at a spring to filter and refill our water before we continued the trek. Yogi and The Professor continued on, anxious to get to our destination and stop destroying our feet. It turns out that Yogi was getting blisters and at this point was becoming quite miserable and we still had plenty of miles to go.
After we finished filling our water we headed back up the trail. It was beautiful and the temperature was perfect. The reward for the hills was worth it for views like this one. (Except the chucklehead that took the picture had a tree in the way of the mountain, but you get the idea… I was that chucklehead.)
Eventually we caught up with the other two, who were resting along side the trail and they gave us their blessing to continue on without them. We told them we would wait for them at the Highway 26 crossing.
When Stalker and I got the highway we were stoked and ran across with reckless abandon! Once on the other side we decided to take a little break and wait for the others. I kicked off my shoes and lay down and relaxed for a bit. It was good to have the nice cool air hit my feet that were now quite warm and tired of being stuffed in hiking boots all day. Our journey was almost complete. We only had about 2 more miles until our destination!
Once Yogi and the Professor caught up they stopped to rest and Stalker and I once again went ahead. We got to the trailhead to the Twin Lakes after a fun but grueling trip up yet another hill. At this point we were tired of going up and were ready for a little downhill action. We were to receive our wish.
Once the other two caught up with us again we then began our descent down to the lower of the twin lakes. It was pretty obvious at this point that Yogi and The Professor were not super happy. Yogi had some pretty serious blisters going on and The Professor had some pack rubbing issues on his hips that weren’t great.
Finally we reached the bottom of the hill and our destination. The first thing we did was drop our packs and head for the water. I kicked my shoes off as if they were on fire and practically ran to the nice cold water. I could swear my feet sizzled and steamed as if they were on fire when I stuck them in the water. It was cold and refreshing and I did not move for a quite a bit, just letting the nice cool lake water cool my hot, tired feet.
After we had all had enough cooling action on our feet we set up camp and made dinner. There was quite a while that Yogi and The Professor didn’t chat much and we figured they were a bit upset because we had been wrong about the mileage, well, and they were in quite a bit of pain due to blisters and things. However once we all had food in us it seemed that all was well and we were once again having a great time. We were tired but we had a good fire going, a great view and had completed our adventure for the day!
So for all you data junkies like me out there here is my Garmin data from my Fenix2.
Stay tuned for Day 2-3 in the next blog post!