PCT OR Section F

Day 82: Warm Springs River

I woke up at 3 something, but managed to get back to sleep until my 6am alarm went off. I tried to pick up my watch to silence it, but something about the way I was sleeping made me lose all sensation in my hand.

While I was packing up in the dark in my tent, I heard someone walk around and start a truck and drive off. I was worried someone was going to come around at any time upset that I was camping there. After packing up completely, I learned that I was indeed in the area where they let PCT hikers camp when I saw “Day Use” written on the TP bar in the toilet. The day use area is the where hikers p for free. The toilet itself, while clean and kept in good repair, featured engraved graffiti from hiker trash going back as far as the early 90s. Dozens and dozens of hikers who just couldn’t bear to Leave No Trace and formed a little bit of history.

I headed back up to the trail at 7:50 and set out into the burn zone again. By 8:40, though, I was already out of it. I met Jugo under some high voltage power lines who was about to finish a 500 mile section from Glacier Peak. He informed me that there was not much left for me in the way of burned forest or rocky trail. “Should be pretty cruisey from here to Frog Lake,” he said. He declined a photo.

Just past him, I got a nasty bite or sting on my inner calf. I didn’t see what did it, but it wasn’t the sudden blinding drop-me-to-my-knees pain of a deerfly. It slowly built up to excruciating and very distracting, then even more slowly subsided to a constant dull throbbing with accompanying swelling that seemed likely to last the rest of the day. When I stopped for a break near Jude Lake around 9:30, I smeared some hydrocortisone on it, but it didn’t really help. I sprayed some diphenhydramine and that helped a little but not for very long. I was already reapplying by the time I reached my next stop.

My next stop was at Trooper Spring, a deep pool of water at the edge of a meadow at the end of a short spur trail. It was more than half an hour before my usual lunch time, but it seemed I had already hiked more than 9 miles that morning, so I decided I could eat a bit early.

In the afternoon, the trail continued to be just as cruisey as Jugo said it would be. It was mostly downhill, especially late in the day, and almost always shady. There was one strip of land a couple of miles into the Warm Springs Reservation where all the trees had been cut, and that ease was only for a few hundred yards.

Out there in that hot sun is where I passed the first of the afternoon sobos: Smiley and Puppet. They were feeling chipper, excited for the Pepsi magic, and eager to see all of what Southern Oregon had to offer on their way to Shasta.

Not too far past them, back in the trees but coming up the same hill, I was surprised by the sudden appearance of Stealth Mode with Second Coming. They had excellent party shirts but didn’t seem to be in the greatest mood or maybe they just didn’t want to lose momentum because they didn’t stop to chat. They hardly slowed.

And just a minute down the same hill I met Raven and Patches who were much more affable. They were ready to skip from Santiam Pass down to Tehachapi to do the SoCal section. And they’ll be getting there at the best time for it. I wish I could do the same. My feet probably don’t agree with me, though.

I took one more break on that long descent, on a log at a tight switchback. And then I walked on until supper. I passed one more sobo much further down where the forest was getting increasingly riparian. She was an older woman, holding her poles in the air, sticking her legs back and forth at an incredible cadence. When she responded to me, she seemed to do so absent-mindedly, as of emerging from a fog. She did not slow down, just called back to me as she passed. She’s gotta be either a college professor or a future crazy cat lady.

I reached the Warm Springs River about 5:30. The first thing I did when I sat down in the campsite on the other side was take an Aleve. I put it on my tongue before my water was ready to go and the buffer around the outside had dissolved before I could swallow it. It tasted awful and was starting to burn. I don’t recommend it unless you’re being paid handsomely. But anyway the point is that my legs and feet were not in any condition to go on. And besides, I had done enough. The 2.5 mile climb in front of me could wait until I had fresh legs in the morning. (It would only be a 900 foot climb–I would hardly notice it then.)

I settled into a campsite amongst a dozen fallen trees with some trepidation. Not for fear of widowmakers–the remaining trees were all living, strong and healthy, and there was no wind–but because there were comments on Guthook describing the site as haunted. The reports mentioned ghosts, banshees, a vampire, and even a Bigfoot. In short, the area seemed a popular tourist destination for loud nocturnal critters that made for sleepless nights.

I cooked, ate, set up my tent, fetched and filtered some water, and got to bed by 7 something, asleep by 8. The only sounds I heard in that time were a couple of birds, a single hoot of an owl, the trickle of the river, and the roar of a passing jet. I hoped no other sounds would wake me in the middle of the night.

Trail miles: 18.9

Distance to Frog Lake: 21.9 miles

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