Day 93: Decision time

2.5 miles on Crater Lake Rim Trail

I sleep until 7:15, then spend the next hours analyzing my options. I consult websites and calculate mileages and finally decide to resume my hike north of the Crater Lake closures. I’ll be skipping another 66 miles, creating yet another gap that I hope to complete in the fall after reaching Canada. Maybe by then the Rim Trail will reopen. 

By the time I’ve decided what to do and how to do it, it’s time for lunch. Charlotte and I run a few errands, including picking up a detailed Oregon/Washington map (a critical piece of gear, it turns out), then we drive to Crater Lake. We pick up my resupply box at Mazama Village. I reorganize my things. We drive around the east side of the lake. This narrow winding road is the route I would have walked had I decided to walk around the fire closure. The route is a 26-mile road walk. There’s no shoulder. I don’t want to walk along this road, but I have mixed feelings about skipping ahead like this. I never considered skipping around the Idyllwild closure; I went into that road walk without hesitation. Until yesterday, I assumed I would walk this one, too. I don’t know why I’m skipping. Because this road feels too dangerous for walking? Because of the thick smoke from an active fire? Because I hope I can come back and walk the closed section in the fall? Probably this last is closest to the truth. Even if the trail doesn’t reopen, I can always opt to do the road walk in the fall. I’m not skipping so much as postponing. Yeah, that feels better. I’m postponing this section. 

When I do hike this section, I plan to hike the Rim Trail alternate, not the PCT itself, so I’ve decided to resume my hike at the place where the Rim Trail opens. I thank Charlotte for everything. She takes my picture as I step onto the trail. Then I’m on my own again, hiking north under dark clouds. Within minutes, it starts to hail. Hail turns to rain. Thunder cracks overhead. I suit up in my rain gear and keep walking. I’d rather not be on the rim during a thunderstorm; this trail will take me down and into trees. 

The scenery is gorgeous, made even more spectacular by the storm. Soon the rain stops, but thunder continues to boom. I remove my jacket and rain kilt and hike on. 

Pointy Mount Thielsen to the north.

After only a few miles I reach Grouse Hill Camp. I intended to go farther than 2.5 miles tonight, but it’s already 6pm, the thunderstorm is still active, and the next campsite listed in the app is less than a mile ahead, so I won’t gain much by going there, and who knows how far I’d have to walk after that to find something suitable. This is a nice sheltered site. I can hear the road from here, but so what. I decide to make camp here and get an early start tomorrow. Thunderstorms are in the forecast for the next few days. I may end up starting early and ending early to avoid getting soaked each afternoon. 

Mosquitoes are abundant, swarming while I eat dinner but thankfully not landing to bite. Deer wander through camp. I’m in my tent early, happy to escape the buzzing, happy to relax for the evening, happy to be out here hiking my hike. 


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