Location- Crater Lake National Park
Elevation- 6,188 ft
Distance Traveled Today- 26.4 miles
Distance Traveled Total- 1818.8 miles
Weather/Temp- 90s 80s clear
Pain level- low
Spirits/Morale- laid back
Days without shower- 5
Last night was horrible. One of my worst sleeping nights on trail. The mosquitoes were numerous and relentless, and the ants continuously found their way inside my clothing. Brings new meaning to “ants in your pants.”
The conundrum was getting comfortable. I could have beat the bugs easily by burying myself in my sleeping bag, but it was just too damn hot last night. My options were to get eaten alive, or burn alive. I switched between the two constantly, sleep eluding me. Finally, around midnight, I put my windbreaker on, and my wind pants; bite proof. Then I just laid on top of my sleeping bag with a shirt draped over my face. Still a little warm, but cooler than the sleeping bag.
After that little bit of ingenuity, the only thing getting me was the ants. The black ants out here are huge. Thank God they don’t bite, but they’re still gigantic, numerous, and annoying. They constantly kept getting under my jacket and into my pant legs until I tucked them into my pants and socks…a little hotter, but manageable. Still, they were getting onto my face every now and then.
I finally got so fed up, I moved my entire set up about 12 feet over to another flat spot. Slightly better, but to my complete surprise and horror, a millipede crawled under the shirt that was draped over me, and onto my face. Wow, what a wake up call.
In the end, I didn’t fall asleep until close to 3 am. Why 3 am? Because that was when it was finally cool enough for me to wrap myself up in my sleeping bag comfortably, shutting out the world of bugs. What a night.
I didn’t start hiking until close to 8am, and the name of the game was blow downs, and 90 degree heat with a side of 20 miles without water sources. There was supposed to be a spring somewhere through the dry stretch, but surprise, it was also dry. All that was left was a nearly dried up, scummy pond full of salamanders and tadpoles. The water was so thick with grime and sludge, it took me 40 minutes to filter 2 liters of water; my filter was clogged to hell.
My hot, yellow, salamander slime water was all I had to get me the next 13 miles, much of which was burnt out, exposed trail; curse these west coast fires! There’s nothing more depressing than walking through a hot, sun exposed, blackened stretch of trail that you know used to be a lush, shady forest at one time.
On the bright side, I figured out why so many trees are downed in Oregon. Some southbound day hikers informed me that there had been a micro burst (tornado(s)?)a few years ago that had devastated all the trees in a fairly large area. So I had my explanation.
I tried not to drink too much water as I finally crossed into Crater Lake National Park, then made it into the tourist campground, not too far from the base of the climb up to the rim. Originally, I wanted to go all the way to the top of the rim and camp, but I was just too tired and thirsty to pass up the easy camping, as well as the camp store at the crowded campground.
My plan is to rise like the sun and burn it up onto that crater rim tomorrow. I can’t remember the last time I was so excited to see what basically amounts to… just a view.