Sunday, July 26, 2009

Still at Elk Lake

Ok, so I'm probably not going to get my journal updated for a while. I'll have to do the best I can for now.

About my visit to Crater Lake. Last year I had thought I might try to get at that far, which would have been farther than I had originally planned because I had originally planned only to go to Ashland. But this year I did get to Crater Lake and had a really nice time there. I found a lot of trail magic there. Real magic, the kind that you don't expect. I made a list but don't have it with me right now, but off the top of my head there were these:
  • Walked cross-country through the woods and emerged in front of a restaurant with an all-you-can-eat breakfast buffet
  • Bumped into a friend I knew from home
  • Saw an older couple pass me by while I was hitchhiking and somehow knew they would turn around and pick me up--and they did, telling me how they NEVER pick up hitchhikers but something about me made them want to help.
  • The lake itself was magic, an ultramarine blue that exists nowhere in nature, not even in your mind after you see it. You can only experience that color in person and your mind cannot grasp it when you are looking at it.
There were other things but I don't have the list and can't remember them all.

The mosquitoes started somewhere a day or two before I got to Crater Lake and continued mostly, with a few tiny breaks, ever since. They are bad from dawn until noon, then ease up for a few hours if I'm lucky, then come back for the rest of the day around 3 or 4. I suspect they will continue on through Oregon. They had a late spring and I'm just in time for the worst of it. Lucky me.

I was horrified when my tent zipper stopped zipping. I already mentioned how I walked as fast as I could to Elk Lake so I could stay somewhere safe from them. It has been a really nice place to stay.

I never know what to expect when I go to these places. Some places do not like hiker trash. We are dirty and smelly and while we spend a lot on beer and food sometimes, otherwise we tend to be kind of cheap. They welcomed me so kindly when I arrived at Elk Lake and have treated me with such graciousness, kindness and happiness. I have been very glad I've come. It's a lovely lake with lots of kids swimming and people kayaking. I may go for a kayak ride myself.

The morning my tent broke I called Tony and told him it was an emergency, that I needed a new tent and that there would not be much I could do to obtain one myself out on the trail. I asked him to call a friend who knows gossamer gear and either plead with him to contact gossamer gear on my behalf or else see if our friend might be able to help me himself. But Tony contacted gossamer gear directly (sorry, but the computer I am using has a broken "g" key) and they were kind enough to rush a loaner tent to me. It should be at Elk Lake tomorrow when my shoes may also arrive.

Once my packages all arrive, I'll be all set to resume my hike. In the mean time, I have enjoyed swimming in the lake and listening to the live music they had last night and sleeping soundly with the sheet I placed over my broken tent as a door. There are few mosquitoes at Elk Lake. It's been a welcome rest.

Yesterday, Moosa and Boone arrived at Elk Lake. I thought they had passed me in the night long ago. They had called a man named Lloyd who drives hikers around. I jumped in the car with them and went to Bend. I wanted to get cash from the ATM. Then Lloyd drove me back to the resort. He is an old man who is hard of hearing. I really appreciate the help of trail angels like him, but it is difficult to talk to people who cannot hear me. I would have asked him for more help today, but I did not think I would be able to communicate with him.

Lloyd had said the road to Sisters, Oregon was closed and it would be hard to get to Sisters. I had been counting on that town as a resupply.

I looked in the Data Book. It was a little over 1 day to Sisters, if I could get a ride which now seemed unlikely if the highway was closed. The next place was 100 miles away, and would not have much in the way of supplies. After that would be government Camp, Oregon in 150 miles. I do not have enough food to go 150 miles and Elk Lake does not have a lot of food. Just snacks.

This morning while sitting on the deck at the lake a young woman came up to me and said she had hiked the trail in 2006 and offered out of the blue to give me a ride to Bend if I wanted to go. I took the opportunity to go with her and buy more food and a new salad dressing bottle to make a new device so I can pee without mosquito bites. Only the salad dressing bottles seem to be the right shape and sturdiness. She drove me to the store and to her house and let me shower and use her computer (with the missing "g" key).

She says that the road to Sisters is open from a popular observatory over toward Sisters, but closed to thru-traffic. I ought to be able to get to Sisters easily. And yet I still bought a lot of food at the store. It's nice to have food I can eat without preparation, that I can just shove under my headnet quickly into my mouth. I may only need to buy just a couple of items in Sisters.

The trail is supposed to improve as far as open views go, but maybe not so much for mosquitoes. Hopefully they will improve a little, too. They have to end someday, right?

When I was hiking section I from Tuolumne Meadows onward and enduring swollen rivers over my head, snow and getting lost, part of me hated it and just wanted a calmer, kinder trail. And part of me was thinking, Mother Nature, is that all you've got? Bring it on. I can take it.

So she brought me mosquitoes. But I still won't give up. They will not win. I will put my head down and power through 30 mile days every day if I have to. I am going all the way to Canada no matter what. Hopefully I will figure out why and what it is that I'm supposed to find there at the end.

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