July 26, 27, 28 – Day 11, 12 13
I did a double zero at Crater Lake since I needed to pick up my smaller, lighter pack from the post office. I came in on a Friday late and could have picked up the pack from the post office on Saturday. If I didn’t pick up the package that day, I would have to wait until Monday, but the PO is a 4 mile road walk from Mazama Village and I was not ready to leave on the first day. My feet were blistered and swollen. My knee was sore and needed icing. I chose to wait can pick up the pack on Monday.
For $5/night I stayed in a special campsite designated for PCT hikers. There’s nothing special about the campsite. In fact, it was just a spot far from everyone else in the woods. They did have bear boxes for our food installed at the camp.
There’s not much to say about Mazama Village, except that the restaurant was very good and the store was adequate for resupply and other food/drink while camping. As expected, the store was quite costly. It was a good break for my feet and knee so by Sunday night, I was ready to go back to the trail.
July 29 – Day 14
PCT 1834.2 – 1843.7
It’s Monday, and there’s a shuttle that runs between Mazama Village and Rim Village, which is located on the rim of the crater and where all the tourists converge. The good news is the shuttle will stop at the post office, which is about the half way point between villages. I took the 9 am shuttle and it dropped me off at the PO 20 minutes later. I got the smaller pack, transferred my gear into it, boxed up the big pack and shipped it home. Unfortunately, I missed the next shuttle and had to wait an extra hour for the another one. I got to Rim Village, where I could get all the water I needed from a drinking fountain. This is a long stretch without a water stop. Over 27 miles; one of the longest on the PCT. I carried 7 liters out of Rim Village, which, with the full food resupply, made my pack super heavy. By the time I was ready to start hiking, it was already 1 pm.
The rim trail was very challenging. Steep ups and downs that hurt my knee and feet, especially with that overloaded pack. Of course the view was spectacular. What an incredible view. The trail goes about 7 miles along the rim with lots of great places to see amazing views of the lake and crater. I would enjoy it more if I was not hiking.
I ran into Strawberry, a hiker I met in Mazama Village. He’s a young, tall Asian with long legs and a very small pack. We hiked together for a while, but I had to back off after a few miles as his pace is over 3.5 mph and mine is well under 3 mph at this point. I told Strawberry that I would be camping at about 10 miles, as it was about 5 pm and too far to the next campsite for today. He said he planned to do about 13 more miles that day. I couldn’t imagine hiking that far at that time of day. Strawberry normally hikes 30-35 miles per day, and started the PCT in Campo. I added a couple more blisters to my available feet real estate for all that fast walking.
There were two campsites available to stay at according to my Gutthook app. I took the one further up the trail by 1/2 mile and setup camp. I was concerned about the long stretch ahead without a water source, so I was very carefully holding back on drinking water. I was planning to go the night without much water. At about 7pm, a park ranger came by and told me I was not in a legal campsite. Evidentially, in the Crater Lake Park, you must camp at least 1 mile from any road. This is to prevent people from parking at a trail head and having a party on the trail, leaving fire rings everywhere. He said I could stay as long as I did not have a fire. I told the ranger about the long stretch without water, and he said he had water in the truck that I could have. Hallelujah!!! He filled up 2 of my liter bottles, which gave me all the water I needed that night, with enough for the rest of the way. You don’t know how good water tastes until you are very thirsty and can’t drink any. I was in heaven.