PCT Day 127, Double Flip and a Flop, Day 46

August 17
Matthew and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day
Mile 2076.3 to mile 2097.4, Timberline Lodge, 21.1 PCT miles + .6 miles off-trail for Little Crater Lake & pit toilets, 21.7 miles total
PCT Miles: 1299.2
Running total: 1418
Shocking news! We slept in! Anyone else getting tired of this?!
We were on trail by 0815 and Mathew was NOT a happy camper- he was exhausted both mentally and physically, and we had a long 22 miles to go. At his request, I left Grumpleskiltskin to be alone in his mood while I forged ahead. For the first time, I didn’t feel crushed that he was unhappy- as he put it, it was just a bad day and nothing more- and Lord knows that in my normal life I have plenty of bad days!!

It was a brisk, bleak morning, and it never seemed to warm up. We hiked the first few miles around Timothy Lake, and then we took a very short detour to see Little Crater Lake- a small but ridiculously deep, mind-blowingly blue spring-fed lake that was created when water from below pushed up through a fault line and started to dissolve the siltstone. The lake is now apparently 45 feet deep and a constant 34°F!!

If you look closely, you will see that there is actually an entire tree inside the lake!

Our photos do no justice to just how stunning this lake was- and it was a cloudy day, too, so it wasn’t even a reflection of the blue sky! I couldn’t imagine the blue on a sunny day!!

We heard rumors that a short distance beyond Little Crater Lake was a campground with a pit toilet, so we had to check that out, too. Success!! BUT, as soon as we started walking again, Matthew began to experience the dreaded chafe!!! NOOO!! Preventing chafe is the reason I have been squeezing my butt and thighs into those tight-ass shorts- I had originally planned to wear Patagonia Baggies like Matt, but I started to fear the chafe so a few days before leaving on this hike I ordered the black shorts- I have been very pleased with my decision, and Matthew hadn’t had ANY problems with chafing until today…of course. Ugh. PCT Grump Score rising…
On our way back from the pit toilet we ran into Dances With Logs and Boardwalk enjoying a snack at the lake 😁- they had gone 9 miles before 9am!! 10 before 10 is a common goal for a lot of hikers- I think the only time that Matt & I actually did that was when our tent had blown down and we started hiking at, like, 3am! But 9 before 9??? Dayyyum!
Soon after Little Crater Lake we started our first of three climbs for the day- this first one had a 1000foot elevation gain in 6-ish miles, so it was pretty gradual (and very unenjoyable with the chafe…)

We came across a TON of huckleberries- I finally let Matthew convince me to try one (he promised that me trying a berry would knock a number off the Grump Score)- I think my face says it all! So tart!

All day I had been hoping that Matthew would see a bear (from, like, very afar) to help brighten his mood, but we came across this sign instead. Omg a Yeti > bear any day!! But alas, no sightings were had.

A little after noon I heard a plethora of curse words escape from Matthew’s mouth & I turned to find him hopping on one leg swatting at his other ankle. Fuck. Matthew had gotten stung by a yellow jacket, again. Naturally I started to cry, and for the first time this entire trip, as I sobbed into Matt’s arms, I said, “let’s go home.”

Matthew, Mr. Grumpasaurus-Rex when it comes to the trail, replied, “we aren’t quitting because of a bee sting.”
But those tears weren’t because of the bee sting- well, they were but they weren’t. They were for this bee sting and the one before. For all of the restless lunches Matthew has had trying to run away from the bees. For the knee pain and the ankle pain. For all of the aches and pains. For the broken jaw and the broken teeth. For the hail and the rain. For one disappointment after another. For Matt’s tired feet and tired soul. For the mere fact that Matt keeps walking, despite everything. For the adventure that was his dream and yet…
{Last year Matt & I had watched a virtual reality movie called The Dinner Party, which was inspired by the story of Barney and Betty Hill, a couple who had claimed that they were abducted by aliens in the 1960’s. In real life, the two didn’t remember the details of the abduction so underwent hypnosis to recall the event. Long story short, in the movie the two listen to their individual accounts of the abduction and find that their experiences were drastically different: Betty had a colorful, beautiful experience while Barney’s experience was dark, painful and scary…I couldn’t help but draw similarities to our PCT hike…}
After a ridiculous cry-fest and being comforted by the one who just removed a stinger from his ankle (gosssh I’m so empathetic!) we continued on.
The stinger!
We stopped for lunch before our second climb, where we met a section hiker named Kristen (shit, I think? I forget?)- Kristen mentioned that she had stayed the night before in Government Camp, a little ski bum town at the base of Mt. Hood. She said she took the $2 shuttle from Timberline Lodge on Mt. Hood and stayed at a ski club hostel for $40, which included a bed, shower, laundry, and peaches- I was SOLD, especially since I knew a bed and town food would surely cheer Matthew up.
We had originally planned to camp behind the Timberline Lodge, wake up early for their famous All-You-Can-Eat breakfast buffet, hang out in the lodge for a bit, then continue on our journey north. We knew about Government Camp from Guthooks, but it was never on our radar to visit. Why? I don’t know!! They even have a post office, which means that we could have picked up our food resupply box for free vs. the $10/box that they charge at Timberline Lodge. Oh well…
Matt and I decided that we could grab our package at Timberline, catch the last shuttle to Government Camp, spend the night in comfort, and then return the next morning for the AYCE brunch and resume our previous plans from there.
With newfound excitement we crushed the second climb of the day, 600 feet over 2 miles. We passed a bunch of day hikers, including one couple with their badass 2 year old who walked up the 2 mile hill!
Mushrooms breaking through the soil
At one point a bug flew into my eye & I couldn’t get it out. I love nature. I love nature. I love nature. I fuckin hate bugs why the hell did I think I could live in the wilderness for 6 months…I mean, I love nature.

I met up with Matt a few minutes later, where I forced him to pose in front of the trail sign…
I usually end the day with a pocket full of garbage that I have collected from the trail (honestly, can’t people learn how to open a wrapper in 1 piece?!? I have picked up SO many wrapper corners- like, wtf?!?)- for whatever reason today I had been thinking about a time in Washington that Matthew and I saw a balloon on the shore of a lake- since it was down a steep, marshy slope and it was ridiculously buggy, I chose not to pick it up, but I regretted leaving the balloon in nature. With this on my mind, I happened to see another dead balloon a little off trail- my second chance!!! I picked it up, caked in dirt (lord I hope it was dirt and not poop…) and all, and packed it away to throw out in town.
Before our last climb we took a short break at a trailhead parking lot, where we chatted with a SoBo hiker named Josh. I had recognized him from Washington, where we very briefly crossed paths and I had asked about the upcoming terrain. Shortly after passing Josh in Washington, I had found a bag of candles that I picked up and packed out to throw away in town- turns out they were Josh’s!!
With 5 miles to go and 1900 feet left to gain, we said goodbye to Josh and started our last butt kicking climb. The terrain was pretty steep, requiring me to take a quick break about halfway up, but the last 1.3 miles were the most difficult: we had over 600 feet elevation gain on fine sand- think about how hard it is to run on the beach in NJ (for whatever reason, it isn’t as difficult to run on the beach in SD)- we were really earning our AYCE brunch!

Mt. Jefferson poking above the clouds- we had lunch in front of Mt. Jefferson 2 days ago!!

Around 6:30 we finally arrived to the Timberline Lodge, where we picked up our package, bought a few snacks from the cafe (a sandwich for Matt, veggies and hummus and a bagel for me, and all the drinks we could carry! and then we were gifted free leftover fries from the cafe- yum! But per usual when we were checking out the cashier made a comment about how much food we were getting- I happily informed him that this was just a snack to hold us over until dinner!)

We made a call to the ski camp hostel and confirmed that they had plenty of room for us, so we took the 7:45 shuttle down and checked in. As we were signing the log book we saw Fairie Feet and Fraggles’ name!! Yes!!! We didn’t think we would see them again since they had left the Bend/Sisters area the day before us! So fun!!!
Matt showered while I caught up with them, then Matt and I ran over to grab dinner from the local pizza joint. When we returned to the hostel, I showered while Matt joined Fairie Feet & Fraggles in the common room to watch Karate Kid 2- when I joined them, we were too chatty to watch the movie, so we ended up turning it off and taking until after midnight- woof!!!

When we realized how late it was we said goodbye and slipped away to our separate dorms for bed. Matt and I had planned to wake up early to take the 0840 shuttle to return to the lodge…

Happiness is: a shelter we don’t need to set up ourselves AND progress

Where we were, where we were going to, where we are, where we came from, all in 2 days

2 thoughts on “PCT Day 127, Double Flip and a Flop, Day 46

  1. Dearest Ali,
    I know you’re a nurse. I also know you are looking at other possible avenues. May I humbly suggest writing. You have a wonderful style. Your humor and wit are sublime. You wander, return, only to wander again on subject; yet it flows so gently. Your trials turn into lessons on humility, resilience and love of life. Please, keep writing.


    1. Hi!! Thank you so much for taking the time to read my posts and for your message- it really means a lot!! I have always loved writing but have never been good at keeping up with it- I hope my next journey leaves me just as inspired to keep writing!! It’s funny (and a bit scary) but I have been told that I write the same way I speak…ah!

      I’m sorry it has taken SO ridiculously long to get back to you-

      Thank you again!!!


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