In the morning I hike through the woods. A few miles from where I camped at Bobby Lake, there’s a ski shelter a short walk from the trail — a really lovely little cabin that’s also open in the summer, maintained by volunteers. I just stop in to check it out and sign the register, and then I keep hiking through the woods.
There’s not so many lakes today, but the ones there are are exceptionally lovely. I think about stopping to swim, but it’s just breezy enough that swimming sounds kind of chilly. And in any case I’m looking forward to getting to Shelter Cove.
I stop at the Willamette Pass trailhead, a tenth of a mile off the PCT, to use the outhouse. A woman sitting in the open doorway of a Sprinter van asks me, “Did you see a yellow cat up there on the trail?”
I pull my earbud out. “Sorry?”
“A yellow housecat.”
“Our cat ran off; we’re waiting for him to come back.”
I tell her I hope he shows up soon, do my business, and head back to the PCT. About 100 feet down the trail towards the highway, there’s the cat, crouching in the middle of the trail, meowing at me. I stop and talk to him, making kitty cooing noises, but he’s clearly afraid of me and jumps off the trail when I take a couple steps forward.
I turn around and jog back to the trailhead. “I saw your cat! Just down the trail towards the highway.”
The woman follows me back to the PCT and I show her where I saw him. He’s not there, but I spot him another fifty feet down the trail. “There he is! I’ll let you go ahead of me,” I tell her. She walks towards him and follows him off the trail while he meows; I sneak past them and continue down the trail. Seems like a happy ending.
I cross the highway and then reach the turn-off towards Shelter Cove. I get a beautiful view of Odell Lake, then descend through the woods, cross some railroad tracks, and emerge onto a paved road about a mile from the resort. I catch some nobo thru-hikers and we chat on the way in.
At Shelter Cove, I find Ben’s car immediately but not Ben himself. I drop my pack, pick up my last resupply box, and buy a root beer float. Ben materializes right about when I’ve finished the float with his backpack full of freshly-picked huckleberries.
We drive to Eugene for a tasty meal, and then home to Portland.