Long distance hiking is not a vacation, it’s too long for that. It’s not recreation, too much toil and pain involved. It is, we decide, a way of life, a very simplified Spartan way of living … life on the move … heavy packs, sweating brow; they make you appreciate warm sunshine, companionship, cool water. The best way to appreciate these things that are precious and important in life it is take them away.
~CINDY ROSS, Journey on the Crest, 1999
Jack Spring to Crater Lake National Park
The 12 trail miles this morning into Crater Lake was 80% forest littered snow mounds, flat elevation, and under tree cover. VERY HARD WORK. I had forgotten after being on dry trail for a few weeks. This was just the beginning. Oregon,north of Crater Lake and the whole state of Washington had record snow this year and those giant snow drifts are not expected to melt anytime soon.
I made the decision last night that if there was an Amtrak bus leaving from Crater Lake I would be on it heading for home. How could I top Crater Lake as my PCT 2011 ending point and 2012 starting point?
So started a series of great events filled with helpful, interesting, and happy people. It went like this. The first building I came to at Crater Lake was Annie’s Restaurant, perfect. That is where I met the famous, smart, positive, very cute, and more importantly the front-runner PCT hiker, Blaze. He is FAST! I slammed down some salad, 2 cokes, and vanilla ice cream, then had great success with the Amtrak agent on the phone securing a ticket for 5:00 pm bus in the afternoon to Klamath, train to Sacramento, bus to Stockton, then train to Bakersfield. Score. The bus stop is at the Crater Rim Village, 7 miles away. I knew at that point I was going to have to fly to get myself cleaned up (really important to sit next to folks on the train) manage to get a ride to the rim, explore and get on that bus. The clerks at the Manzama Store helped me locate quarters, laundry detergent, and even set the handicapped stall for more water time. I threw all my clothes into the washing machine, finished my shower, then had the bright idea to ask anyone to borrow a blow dryer! Guess what? Out popped from one of the stalls an arm with blow dryer in hand. How cool is that? Cleaned up, I walked back into the store and asked the first kind looking couple I saw for a ride to the rim. They just happened to be going there. In the car they shared their vacation plans AND gave me an informative tour of the rim.
I think the first view from the rim of Crater Lake is close competition to the Grand Canyon. It literally takes your breath away!!! I was right it was the perfect place to end this summer’s section hike. If you haven’t visited this national park, add it to your list of must dos. I would like to go back someday and bike the 33 miles around the rim.
Back to the day. I was getting kind of nervous about catching the bus. I had only seen a small trolley like the ones at Mammoth Lakes, CA. As I was waiting for this ghost bus I started talking to 3 couples. They asked me all kinds of questions about my trip and being solo and even offered a ride to Klamath Falls if something did not work out. The trolley promptly arrived at 5:00 and trolley driver, Ernie Meyers asks if anyone was going to Klamath. Score again!!! So the kindest trolley driver ever drives just me 65 miles per hour (surprisingly they go that fast) to Klamath. All along the way he gives me all kinds of info about the area, animals, and the environment. Even better. I didn’t really know when the train left from Klamath because I didn’t write it down. Bad. It turns out that my train was leaving at 10:00 PM, it was then 6:30 PM , the Amtrak Station is closed until 8:30 and I am sitting in the dirt in the shade. Panic attack! I don’t have any idea if this is a safe neighborhood to just sit there and I know that I do resemble a homeless person. Along comes Ernie in his car on his way home to offer help. He gives me a guided tour of Klamath Falls and drops me off at a VERY popular Creamery and pub. The waitresses were understanding and let me charge my i phone, allowed me to sit at the table for 2 hours and gave me extra scoops of homemade vanilla ice cream. Doesn’t get better than that.
Well the train was early, that rarely happens and lucky for me I would be able to connect directly to another train and skip the bus. Score again! I am now on the overnight train very thankful, happy, relaxed, well fed, clean (sort of), and looking forward to the next chapter my life.
As for the personal goals I set for myself at the beginning of this hike…
1. I did not lose a single thing until yesterday!!! I left my sit pad and pen in the bathrooms Manzama Village.
2. I ended very healthy with not even a blister or sore muscles.
3. I would say a big yes to getting back singleness, presence, and thankfulness.
Life is so good.
I could not have pulled this thru-hike off this summer without my incredible and very giving husband and family. They somehow know I could do it and more importantly expected me to succeed. How can one fail with such love and confidence pushing one along?
I also want to thank my readers for following along, for your comments, and emails. It is more than any passionate hiker could ask for.