Out of Crater Lake we were invited to enjoy the volcanic beauty of the region. The jagged peaks and glassy igneous rocks were an exciting new chapter and we celebrated by risking our lives.
A short side trail from the PCT takes you up the steep scree slopes of Mount Thielsen and, just to mix it up a bit, FD, Ladypants and I decided to stash our packs and climb it. Fourth Wave, without enough water for the unexpected side trip, elected to hike on with friend Rocket Llama. We had met a small family (3 people not dwarves) at the trail intersection and they regaled us with stories of their climb as if it was done with consummate ease, slipping in the tiny fact that they didn’t quite summit. No problem, we thought.
The steep trail was refreshing after the well maintained hiker highway that is the PCT, we were actually testing ourselves again. We took what we thought was the route to the summit and hit the technical section, described to us earlier as a bit tough but doable. In short, it was very tough and poo your pants scary, plummeting to our deaths pervaded our thoughts as we watched the fire spotting plane circle below us.
Despite the advice from some terrible teen movie about fighting that none of us have seen, we backed down, Momma Z would never forgive us if we led her daughter to her doom (I’d also promised her cousins a few months back that I’d keep her safe, and I intended to keep that promise (or at least not prevent FD from keeping it for me)). Henley’s regret, disappointment and shame was almost tangible. He’d backed down once before in…Ecuador(?) and the big quitter was about to do it again.
Skirting back down we decided to head round to the back of the Thielson crag, just to see if there was an easier way up. 10 minutes later we were sat on the summit, looking out over the landscape laughing about how we almost got ourselves killed…morons.
Some sexy summit shots of Ladypants have scarred my mind, but one of those cool scars that you’re proud of, he’s a nuisance like that. With his clothes back on, the sky darkened with anger to tell us that the show was over. It was time to leave. We did not partake in the thoughtful gift left at the peak by a previous climber, but slid, stepped and stumbled back to the PCT.
As the storm came in, we were finally getting tanked by some proper weather, we had deserved it with the plain clima sailing so far. Thunder rumbled and lightning crashed earthbound nearby, it was an awesome display of what the world around you can achieve.
We finally caught up with Elie and Rocket Llama, grateful to Fourth Wave for pitching the tent as I crawled my wet, smelly body inside. We’d all risked our lives that day, as Elie, still rocking with the fear, described how a fork of lightning had balanced out the world’s charge just meters from the trail.
These are the days to savour.
From here we pushed on through Oregon. Aided by the gradual nature of the trail, we finally gave birth to the big mile days that had been gestating within us. A few thirties and Portland was within our grasp, this meant the departure of FD, bound for family love, but that’s cool, we were bored of her consistent, developed view on life and her susceptibility to being wound up too easily. Go Grace, leave us, and take your disinclination to answer a question with you.
Before that time though, we’ll continue to thoroughly enjoy your company…
One fine day in the shadow of Mt Jefferson (Mr Jefferson!), FD and I were unable to keep up due to river crossings and breaks, meaning we could be smug with an early wake up and cruise past Elie and Henley while they lay cocooned in their sleeping bags. A significant day as our first (and only) 10 by 10 (miles by o’clock) and one of many in the long list of Oregon thirties. Looking back, I think we did more 1 by 1 days than 10 by 10s.
Our treat for cranking up the mileage was a lazy day in Timberline with copious amounts of eggs, pancakes and filo soufflés. An amble down Eagle Creek and Oregon out, we had made it to Cascade Locks and the Puente de Los Dioses (Bridge of the Gods to all you non-hablarers).
FD was out and would return to the East as Grace. With weddings to enjoy and a semester in London to plan for, it was time for her and the trail to part ways. We can only recommend you and Mamma Z come back and finish Washington off, best get some training in first though.
Grace, this overly long and kind of dull blog is for you, hopefully it represents your time on the PCT. To the Daughter of Fires, we salute you.