• Brandon A. Kelone

Pacific Crest Trail Diary 13: Day 93 (Shelter Cove, OR)

Updated: Sep 21, 2018

Unfortunately I know that this is going to have to be briefer than I'd like it to be. I have ten million things to say, but the fact remains that it's hard to write ten million things into a phone's touch screen keyboard, and I'm also completely exhausted from the miles that I've covered over the last few days. That said, I have to wait for my laundry to finish up, so this is probably the best opportunity to do a little bit of writing that I'll likely see for at least a week. 

Where do I begin...?

I bought new shoes in Ashland, then went to the library where I made my last posting. I liked Ashland a lot, and I really bemoan that I couldn't spend more time there, but that's just the way it goes on trail. I can however see myself going back there to check the town out after finishing the PCT. It largely reminds me of Flagstaff but smaller. I wonder if Bend will have that same feel (I'll be there in two days). I ate breakfast at the Morning Glory Cafe and have never had such awesome pancakes. They were seriously amazing! The best I think I've ever had in my life. 

I took a shuttle back to trail with a Finish hiker named "Bambie Magnet" and it turns out that the shuttle driver had grown up in Flagstaff. We had a good time comparing Flag with Ashland. 

That day I covered 27 miles. The next day was my biggest on trail so far. Before that day, my best mileage was from PCT day 1 when I covered 35.47 miles. That second day out of Ashland I hiked exactly 40 miles. It was a really long day, and I planed to take it easy the next day, but that plan failed me and I ended up following my 40 mile day with a 38 mile day. My two best days back to back... I was completely smoked. That did however bring me into the national park of Crater Lake where there was a general store, resupply, a cafe, and a camp ground. I planned to hit the trail the day after arriving, but I had plans for adventure at Crater Lake and I wanted to be rested up before starting that. So I took a zero day following my 40 & 38 mile days. That zero was so perfect! The village there was small enough that it made it hard to do anything but rest, which is exactly what I did for the full day. It was marvelous--perhaps my favorite zero so far. 

That night I thought long and hard about the day that would follow. I had been excited for this place since before starting the hike-- I'd put a lot of thought into the plan, and I knew exactly what I needed to do to bring that plan to fruition. I set my alarm clock for 3:30am. Then I went to sleep at 7pm to hopefully get some extra sleep before the long day ahead. 

When my alarm sounded the next morning it was stupid early, stupid cold, and stupid dark, but I knew that I needed to wake. I'd been excited for this day for too long to hit snooze. I started breaking down my camp as quietly as I could so as not to wake other hikers, then got on trail by 4:15. I hiked in the dark until the sun started to approach the horizon, then right at sunrise I reached the rim of Crater Lake and glimpsed its waters for the first time. There is no way for me to describe the magnificence of that hole in the ground! It was one of the most beautiful things that I'd ever seen in my life! I filled up my water there at the rim (26.5 mile waterless stretch started there). 

Because it was so early there was almost no one on trail. I was very worried that it would be crowded, but it was too early for tourists, and the other hikers were all sleeping in to get the free hiker breakfast that was starting at the camp ground at 7am. So although I worried about the crowd, that really turned out to not be a problem. 

Clouds rolled over the rim and into the lake and I could literally feel them as they drifted around me. It was so breathtaking!

I had to sit down between the trail and the canyon rim. I sat there looking out over the sparkling lake for an hour. I watched birds as they flew about in front of me. I wondered, with all this beauty in the world, how there could ever exist anger, hate, and evil. It was just so peaceful and beautiful. 

After an hour sitting there I reached a point where I could get back on my feet and start hiking around the lake again. I thought about how amazing the weather was considering that there had been a chance of rain in the forecast; that forecast really scared me, but the weather turned out to be perfect. The few clouds that were in the sky danced and glowed as they refracted light from the sun. I only wish that photos and words could capture how beautiful it all was. I smiled so largely that I had to take a picture of myself, but no photo in itself could even capture my happiness. I was in heaven. It was so beautiful!

The trail around the lake was 11 miles long and I covered it by 10:30 that morning. It was painful to have the moment last for such a short period, but I knew that I'd done what I had set out to do at Crater Lake. I had been reminded of beauty, and why I started this hike, and why I tattooed the inside of my bicep. Oh, if words would even scratch the surface! 

The day after Crater Lake I slept in and didn't get on trail until 8:30. I was so tired from the day before, so I only hiked 28 miles. At that point I found a beautiful campsite overlooking a bunch of lakes, so I decided to stay there. That was last night, and it made for a really spectacular sunrise this morning. 

Today I hiked into Shelter Cove to resupply. I ate a whole pizza by myself, drank some Mikes Hard Cranberry Lemonades, and ate a lot of ice cream. 

I'm beginning to run into a lot of SOBO hikers since Crater Lake. It's a strange thing; now I have to look both north and south when I relieve myself alongside the trail. Very strange. 

I'm also beginning to have some major foot issues. After switching shoes in Ashland, this new pair are forcing my feet to shape differently and it is causing some extremely painful blisters. So far Advil has made it tolerable, but as a whole my feet are in a lot of pain and I may need to do something about that soon. 

Tomorrow I'll hike out of Shelter Cove and hopefully cover 30-33 miles. That will put me about 15 miles from Bend, Oregon. I'd like to grab a motel there so I have the opportunity to see the town, as it's another place is like to consider moving to after the trail, but funds are getting tight as I approach Canada, so it may have to be a hit and run town. We shall see. 

I wish I had more time and access to a keyboard so that I could share more of the Crater Lake adventure, but I have to leave it at that. 

Getting excited as I approach Canada. The end is getting near. Under 800 miles to go... So close and so far away. 


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