PCT Day 120, Double Flip and a Flop, Day 39

August 10

Mile 1974.8 to mile 1995.1, 20.3 PCT miles + .8 miles to Big Lake Youth Camp (to be included in PCT mileage), 21.1miles

PCT miles: 1197.9
Running total: 1312.9
We woke up, packed up, and set off up over the lava field ridge. The sky was beautiful but threatening. I was SO glad that we didn’t attempt to do this section in a storm- we might have been toast!!

Just as we made it over the climb and into the trees it started to rain. We covered our packs & put on our full rain-gear just in time. I was again dripping wet and had to go to the bathroom, but that definitely wasn’t gonna happen in the downpour! Uf!

The rain thankfully, finally stopped right before we reached our water source for the morning. We sat down, filled and filtered our water, and had a quick snack before returning to the trail.

As we walked north, the trail became a ridiculously rocky lava field again, and then suddenly dropped us off at McKenzie Pass on highway 242.

Instead of continuing across the highway on the trail, we headed up the road to check out the Dee Wright Observatory, a structure completely made out of lava rocks- it was cool to check out, but I most enjoyed the pit toilet and garbage cans! Matt and I ended up taking a decent break there, chatting with a SoBo hiker named Ice Age and fighting off the chubbiest, most fearless chipmunks ever.

The next 5 miles after the pass is dreaded and hated by many- it’s apparently all lava rock and completely exposed, and we have heard that in the heat of the day the rocks will melt & destroy both your soles & your soul. A few people recommended that we plan to get there in the early morning or later in the evening to avoid the mid-day heat, but just like the aqueduct in the desert(where most people hike at night to avoid the heat) we marched across that lava field in the middle of the day! cloudy day for the win!

But first, we came across some trail magic!! I had a feeling all day that we would receive some magic, but had given up hope after reaching the pass and coming up dry- but then after a small section of rocks we came across a dirt road and bamm! Memento, a 2018 thru-hiker, was there with chips, drinks, and fresh fruit!!! I literally only had a packet of tuna left in my foodbag, so I was so psyched to find the goodies!! I ate an apple, banana, and a bunch of chips before we carried on to the dreaded lava field…

It was pretty wild- one second we were in this green, thriving forest, and the next we were in a dry, barren lava field with no signs of life. As we left the trees Matt turned to admire the drastic contrast, and then he saw the clouds- the dark, scary, end of the world, dementor clouds- I was a few steps behind and he called to me, “Look,” pointing at the sky, “we gotta get moving.” And so we did- we hightailed it up the 2.2 mile, 900foot rocky climb, while I repeated a prayer, “please don’t storm until we get up and over, please don’t storm until we get up and over.” – and it didn’t. And I didn’t even notice if the rocks were rough on the feet ’cause I was so preoccupied!

On the way up we passed this remarkable tree:

This is determination, perseverance, and overall badassery. GUYS, in life, when all of the odds are stacked up against you, be the fuckin tree in the lava field.
We were shocked when we reached the top, started the descent, and returned to the trees and dirt trail- what happened to the 5 continuous miles of lava rock?! Whatever, we weren’t gonna ask too many questions!
As we entered a burn scar the terrain did become rocky again, but it wasn’t terrible & didn’t last long. The rest of the day passed by uneventfully.

Eventually we made it to the junction for the Big Lake Youth Camp and it was like a light at the end of a tunnel! Finallllly!!

The Big Lake Youth Camp is a Seventh-Day Adventists summer camp not too far off trail that is super hiker-friendly- they have an entire building for PCT hikers complete with two full-bathrooms, a washer and dryer, a fridge, coffee maker, microwave, etc. AND they accept resupply packages AND they invite us to eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner {all vegetarian!} AND they let us camp slightly off camp boundaries AND IT’S ALL DONATION BASED! What?!! Unreal!!
We made it to camp, signed in, set up our tent on a windy beach, and joined the rest of the PCT hikers for dinner- tonight’s dinner was a veggie curry with rice- mmm!

At dinner we met a really neat SoBo couple- the lady was from Washington, the man from the UK, but they met in and have been living in Mexico City for a LONNNG time now (like, 7 years for her, 11 for him) and after the trail they plan to move to the UK.. yes! Life goals, guys!!

After dinner we hung out in the hiker building for a few hours, where I passed the night away chatting with Fairie Feet.
Around 9 Matt and I decided to call it a night and hiked back over to our tent. My stomach had been feeling weird since the afternoon & I was looking forward to some sleep! Tomorrow we had a whopping 5 miles to hike to hitch into Bend for a much-needed day off.

Happiness is: the Big Lake Youth Camp! Trail Magic! And, a milestone! We have hiked more miles since restarting on July 3 than we had hiked in the desert before the injury- and it took us 6 days less!!

One thought on “PCT Day 120, Double Flip and a Flop, Day 39

  1. Congratulations on reaching that milestone; that’s a big one!! So glad you’ve had some time to post because that means you’re taking a break (in Bend, I assume?) and recharging some. I had to laugh over the “not peeing in the rain” comment because, hey, at least there aren’t any mosquitoes when it’s raining, right? Still, finding pit toilets is a blessing! Who knew 7th Dayers were such hiking friends? As a nearly 40 year vegetarian, I’m most grateful for all the research and work they did way back when to bring vegetarian food into the light. Hope you enjoyed Bend!!


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