Location- Diamond Lake
Elevation- 5,925 ft
Distance Traveled Today- 26.5 miles
Distance Traveled Total- 1845.3 miles
Weather/Temp- clear 80s 70s
Pain level- low
Spirits/Morale- at ease
Days without shower- 6
It was a peaceful night, mostly untouched by bugs. I was hiking by 7:30, making my way back to the trail head, then heading for the rim of Crater Lake.
The PCT doesn’t officially go across the rim of Crater Lake, but there is an 11 mile trail that branches off the PCT, follows the rim, then reconnects with the PCT. It’s considered an official alternate, and I’d say 99.9% of thru hikers take it. You’d be insane not to, unless you’ve just seen so much of Crater Lake that you just can’t stand to look at it ever again.
I ascended the rim at 9:30am and was greeted with one of the most spectacular, unique views I’ve ever seen. Words will never be enough, and neither will pictures; you simply have to breathe it all in-in person.
A shade of blue rarely found in the natural world, surrounded by a thousand(s) feet of sheer cliffs overwhelms you. An island of water in a sea of land. As if that’s not enough, a cone shaped, tree covered, volcano looking spit of land floats just adjacent to the west shore. The view is the stuff of fantasy worlds; something you wouldn’t believe exists anywhere but the canvas of our imaginations. I am very happy to report though, sure as the sun will rise tomorrow, it’s a real place on this earth. Go there before you die.
After reaching the rim, it was time to savor the moment. I made for the super fancy lodge that requires reservations a year in advance. How many times in my life will I be able to enjoy a fancy, overpriced meal with one of the most breathtaking locations on the planet sprawled out before me? Probably only this once; and if ever again, not while on a peregrination of this magnitude.
For breakfast I had a smoked salmon omelette with cream cheese, hollandaise sauce, and breakfast potatoes. After breakfast, I lounged in a rocking chair overlooking the lake until it was lunchtime. Delicate, pan seared Rainbow Trout with a cucumber relish was enough to send me on my way.
It was 9 more miles of walking the Rim until I reconnected with the PCT. Many of the early stretches of the rim trail were far more challenging than your average PCT terrain, and it was fun to blow past the tourists who were carrying nothing as they explored little sections of the rim here and there.
I couldn’t stop taking pictures. The rim trek took me hours longer than it should have, but you’ll never hear me complain about it.
When I reached my final view of the lake, before the trail began to descend back towards denser forests, I asked a tourist to snap a picture of me in front of the rim. He did so happily, we talked a few minutes, then I was on my way again.
Originally, I’d planned to stop and camp a short distance after rejoining the PCT, but it was only 5 pm when I got there. The trail was mild, so I decided to just keep walking. Well, I racked up almost another 10 miles before I hit a highway at close to 8 pm. I stood there for a while contemplating whether to camp, or to hitch into Diamond Lake Resort. I didn’t have my thumb out, but a truck towing a small trailer passed me, slowed down, turned back around and pulled up next to me. I’ll be damned if it wasn’t the man who snapped my picture on the rim. “Need a ride?” He quipped out the window; and that was that. The universe was working its magic again. I was so befuddled to see him again, I never even caught his name on the short ride to Diamond Lake.
After a country fried steak at the resort cafe, I’m now cowboy camped next to the shore of the lake. I think I may stay all day tomorrow; I’m really liking this spot…