Day 89: Mazama Village / Crater Lake

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Mile 1804.3 to mile 1823 (18.7 miles)

Crater Lake Rim Trail Alternate (11.4 miles)

To PCT mile 1839.2

Plus 2 miles in/out Mazama Village

Total 32.1 miles / 51.7km

Only 3 miles into the day and I hit another huge fire area. I remember from my planning that this one closed the PCT in this spot last year. The trail is now open but there was not a lot to see. Blackened remains of what once was a green forest. Nothing much left now except dead stems and bare soil. The usual coloniser plants are slowly adding some greenery.

A hell of a lot of wind blown trees down over the trail as well. I lost count after climbing or stepping over number 30.

Like many of the fire areas I’ve encountered over here this was massive. Essentially starting at 3 miles in for the day it was easily more than 10 miles walking through it before coming into tree cover again. And as a reminder of presence of fires, smoke still blankets the surrounding area. My hopes of clear views across Crater Lake are dashed.

It was a fast 15 miles or so to Hwy 62, the access road to Mazama Village, where I had a resupply box waiting. Only 1 mike off the trail I elected to walk it rather than try and hitch.

Mazama Village was not what I expected. The term village conjures images of a small settlement of sorts in my mind but in this case the village was a store and restaurant in a large car camping area. Many tourists in their brightly coloured, fresh clothes, stare at the disheveled, dirty hikers; we don’t give a toss about them and keep to ourselves.

I grabbed a cold Coke, a replacement Gatorade bottle, an ice cream and my resupply box. I already have too much food in my bag and feeling the weight of my resupply box all I could think of was … ugh.

I headed outside to join a few other hikers milling about, opened my box and spread the loot. There is one way to reduce weight and that is to tuck into stuff right away. Sorting through what was what and separating food into days, it was easy to get rid of the surplus to the other hikers.

Onwards and upwards. Resupplied and hydrated it was time to climb up to the Crater Lake Rim. I’d elected to do the Rim Trail Alternate which as the name suggests hugs the crater rim, instead of the PCT that sits a good 2 to 3 miles from the lake and offers no views. The climb up was difficult in the heat and smoke but I got there in the end.

Unfortunately the smoke haze was diabolical. What was meant to be the perfect view of a deep sapphire blue lake was a murk if washed out grey. So thick was the smoke that the other side of the lake was hidden from view.

Here is what it’s meant to look like.

Here is what I saw.

I pressed on around the Rim Trail passing many day trippers out to see the sights.

Towards the end of the day I was feeling pretty sorry for myself with tired feet and a new blister under my left little toe. I’ve never had so many blisters in my life. Just goes to show you how much dirt works it’s way into shoes and socks, combined with sweat to create a friction nightmare.

Rejoining the PCT I was done for the day, making camp at the trail junction. I had enough water with me for tonight and tomorrow morning but the first source tomorrow is a water cache that may or may not be stocked. Luckily a cache is also maintained near the trail junction. While I never rely on caches having water available it was a bonus a find over 100 gallons. I took a couple of litres.

A section hiker, Lauren, rolled into camp and it was good to have the company. Initially she had walked beyond this camp but recognising she was guzzling far too much water, back tracked to this camp and cache, uncertain if the cache beyond was stocked. It’s a small site and our tents are pretty close. I warned her I probably snore and that I get up super early to get the distance in. With limited options Lauren was cool with that.

We set about cooking our dinners, eating and conversing on so many topics watching the sun slowly nose dive over the horizon.

5 comments

  1. As always I love following along on your great adventure! Many thanks! Do you wear dirty girl gaiters or equivalent? To keep out the stones? I recently grabbed a pair of Altra branded ones for my Lone Peaks. Can’t believe the km’s you do each day?! Awesome!

    1. Thanks Bruce. Sorry for late reply, just back in cell service. Yep, Dirty Girls are the go – light, cheap and do a great job of keeping junk out of shoes. I’ve worked my way into the distance, starting slowly and picking if up every so often. Thinking I’ll grab a pair of Altras before leaving for home because they fit amazing – just need the time for the body adapt to the zero drop.

      1. Yeah I love my Altra Lone Peaks…. I seemed to have adjusted to the zero drop without a prob. I’m slowly walking longer distances. Fairly easily do a 35 km distance. But not day in day out like you do! Aiming to do a few 50 km walks soon. Enjoy mate. Thanks again for documenting your journey!!

  2. Mick, would those fire areas be as devastating and as far-reaching as those in Tasmania when we lost the ancient trees? I understand the wildfires. Are the trees in this area of your walk classed as ancient?

    1. Fairly sure over time these forests have experienced lots of fire. One problem has been exclusion of fire over such a long time creating modifying the ground fuels, forest structure etc… making the fires that do take hold bigger and more devastating.

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