Date: Tuesday, 18 July 2017
Start: Mazama Village, Crater Lake National Park, 1.0 miles from Mile 1818.4, 6178 ft
Finish: Camped by the trail at Mile 1843.9, 5935 ft
Daily Miles: 25.5 PCT less 4.5 miles saved by taking shorter Crater Lake Rim Trail
Total PCT Miles: 1303.6
Weather: Warm and sunny
Breakfast: Ham & cheese omelette and toast & jam
Lunch: Chicken with rice and vegetables, chocolate chip cookie
Dinner: Rehydrated lasagne with meat sauce.
Aches: Very tired
Highlight: Hiking the entire Crater Lake Rim Trail when it looked to be unlikely because of snow and trail closures. On a perfect day, the trail provided fantastic views tbroughout its length over the deep blue waters of Crater Lake, the jagged steep rocky circular rim of the crater, and of the mountains and wilderness beyond. It was just a magic hike.
Lowlight: Mosquitoes again. Although they were not a problem along the Rim trail, they were abundant everywhere else, and especially where I am camped. Although I apply repellent every few hours and wear my head net when they get particularly bad, they still bite me through my T-shirt, and in camp, through my socks. Even with the head net on they are buzzing in my face all of the time and despite the regular repellent applications, some are always finding a spot I must have missed, so my hiking day is punctuated by frequent slapping and crushing, often too late (bloody smears), whenever I feel something. When I finally get in my tent at night, there are always a few minutes spent chasing down and despatching the mozzies that follow me in, no matter how quick I am. I’m worried it might be like this all the way to Canada!
Pictures: Click here
I was somewhat apprehensive about how the day would go when I left Mazama Village around 8:30am after chatting outside the store with a number of other PCT hikers I have got to know a bit. One (an ultrarunner) was quitting after she hurt her back sliding down the same snow slope I had slid down a few days ago. Octane was also there, having given up on doing the whole PCT this year, and now just hiking some sections. Outside the store, was an official map indicating that PCT hikers must follow the official PCT route which skirts the western base of the Crater mountain and never goes near the rim. The popular alternative Crater Lake Rim trail was closed for about four miles because of snow, and although hikers could usually use the parallel rim road, this was prohibited because of roadworks for at least two miles. I really wanted to do the Rim trail, so thought I would set out and see what happens.
Firstly, there was a five mile hike up to the Rim Village through the forest, including across some large snow areas at higher elevations. Fortified by my restaurant breakfast, I made good time and reached the Rim Village cafe around 10:30am. I was somewhat surprised to find about six of the hikers I had seen at the Mazama Village store already there with their packs …… they had taken the free National Parks shuttle bus up to the Rim!
Although early for lunch, I decided to eat well while at the cafe and then set off, around 11:30am, northwards along the Rim trail. Although there were many tourists around the Village and nearby lookouts, I didn’t have to hike far before I had the trail mostly to myself. The scenery was superb, and despite my very heavy pack (no water on the trail for 26 miles after the Rim Village), I thoroughly enjoyed the hike.
After an hour or so, I reached the point where the trail was supposed to be closed at what had been a trailhead/parking area, but was now a parking area for road construction vehicles. There was no one about, and no sign saying the trail was closed, so I continued on. As it turned out, there were long sections of the trail covered by snow, including one long slope that took some care, but generally it was quite navigable and I reached the northern end (where there was a sign saying “Trail Closed”) in mid-afternoon, very pleased that I had taken the chance.
From there, my route gradually descended across a pumice plain, still with long stretches of snow, and connected again with the PCT. The rest of the day was spent gradually descending through woodland and around 7:00pm I began looking for somewhere to camp. Half an hour later I found a nice spot, apart from the mozzies, and set up camp having had a very interesting, rewarding and tiring day.