We take our time in the morning eating breakfast and packing up. I have J. redo the gauze over my heat rash — he says it looks a bit better than it did yesterday — and then we say goodbye. It’s been nice having my own personal trail angel for the past few days! But I’m looking forward to being totally on my own again, too, for just a few more days. I won’t be able to change the gauze pad again by myself, though, so I’ll have to leave this one on as long as possible and hope for the best.
I finally leave camp at 9:30. The trail crosses the road and then leads right back up into the lava rock. For a mile and a half or so, I climb around on the lava where the trail leads me, and then I walk through some forest, and then through a relatively recent burn. I feel good, but I also feel tired. I think about doing this for five months, if I were thru-hiking, and it’s hard to imagine. I feel more capable now than I think I was in 2015, and I’m enjoying the rhythm I’ve got going now that I’ve pushed past the loneliness I was feeling earlier (or else J.’s occasional presence has alleviated it — also possible), but I also kinda can’t wait to be back home with my cats and my bathroom and my closet full of soft dry clothing.
All that said, I am having a fantastic time hiking today. The trail gains some elevation and then it’s semi-alpine and then it’s alpine, but it’s central Oregon alpine — more lava rock, paths that wend their way up and down between and over the rocks, tons of colors, red and brown and black and the blue, blue sky. On the northern horizon, Mount Washington and Three-Fingered Jack and Mount Jefferson stand in a row. In the foreground, the beautiful lava rock. Oregon is so stunning! It has this undeserved reputation as the “boring” state on the PCT, and today I have no idea why.
I reach the northern boundary of the Obsidian Limited Entry Area — PCT hikers are allowed to pass through without a permit, but can’t stop to camp or leave the trail corridor. The PCT is only within the area for a couple of miles, and it seems unlikely to me that these couple of miles will be much different from the rest of the trail around here — but I’m wrong. The trail is littered with pieces of obsidian that glint and glimmer in the sun. Everything around me sparkles!
I pass pretty ponds and walk through lovely green meadows. I stop to filter some water at a spring that emerges from the earth underneath a red and yellow rock and then flows past wildflowers. I pass Obsidian Falls. I admire South Sister.
In the evening I descend through a recent burn to another pretty meadow with a stream running through it. There are several nobos camped nearby, and they invite me to join them. I pitch my tent and cook dinner and chat. After everyone disappears into their tents, I stay up too late in mine reading The Year of the Flood.