Day 124: Fire Detours are Fun!

August 16, 2017: Hiked Miles 1932.8 to 1950.0 + 8.3 on fire detour (25.5 total)

Colton decided not to set an alarm today so we could sleep in as long as we needed. I woke up at 6:30 feeling so well rested. He wasn’t quite ready to get up even after sleeping for nearly 11 hours so I let him sleep while I went to the bathroom and started packing up, but finally my rustling around woke him up for good. He blames his need for so much sleep on not getting a nap yesterday. He really does love his sleep.

The morning was chilly so we ate quickly and got on the trail to warm up. The morning was fairly uneventful. We passed more ponds and lakes and just wandered through the trees all morning discussing our plans after the trail is over and fantasizing about the future. 

We came across a few different fire closure signs, blocking off other trails off the PCT.

It seems like all of Oregon is on fire right now. 

We saw a whole herd of elk at one point. There must have been ten of them. We scared them and they sprinted away before I could get a picture.

We finally emerged from the green tunnel as some people refer to Oregon as, and into the first sunlight of the day. 

We decided it was so nice and warm we would eat lunch there. Which we immediately regretted upon sitting down, as the trees around us all started creaking loudly and looked like they were one gust away from squishing us. So we layed in the sun and Colton napped while I read and kept watch to make sure the trees stayed upright.

After lunch we hiked a couple miles farther where we came to a most disappointing sight. 

An unexpected trail closure due to a new fire that we hadn’t heard about. You could see the smoke plume behind the South Sister so we knew it must be cranking. 

I had cell service so I quickly looked to see if I could find an alternate and luckily I did. Colton was pretty disappointed to learn about the fire closure, but I was excited. I love surprises and couldn’t wait to figure out a new plan. Just what I needed in the middle of this long, flat section of the trail to break things up. 

We took a side trail down to Elk Lake and just barely had a view of Mt. Bachelor on the way down. 

Elk Lake is a gorgeous lake with a whole resort there. 

There were tons of people there, swimming, camping, fishing, and hiking. We also sound some other PCT hikers who all were planning on doing the same alternate route we were. The alternate would add about 10 miles compared to the normal trail, but it was possible to hitch five of those miles. And sure enough, when we walked back up to the road, we got picked up in about 10 minutes by a nice couple from Sunriver who drove us down the highway to the Devil Lake trailhead. Colton and I hiked the South Sister trail last year which starts at the same spot, so we were familiar with the next couple miles of the trail.  

We climbed a ways up until we popped out in a nice open meadow and headed down to Moraine Lake. We had a nice view of Broken Top on the way down. 

And a nice view of the smoke. 

And our shadows.

From Moraine Lake we had a perfect view of the South Sister. 

It brought back some awesome memories of climbing it last year. 

We kept hiking and came upon a gorgeous creek that we followed for a couple miles as we climbed up out of the valley. 

I couldn’t believe how beautiful the trail was. I’m so glad we were forced into this alternate route.

We passed a couple who were day hiking who wanted to know everything about the trail. They asked us what our most valuable piece of gear is and were amazed when we pointed to our dirty, beat-up shoes and told them our trail runners are. They wrote down everything we told them and then tried to guess our ages. They thought I was 37. I think they only said that after seeing my knee braces. They reassured me it was only because they thought I was so well-composed. Good backtracking. I’ll take it, since usually people think I’m barely 21.

We hiked until we got to the first of the Green Lakes. 

With another sweet view of Broken Top. We hiked a little farther to find a place to camp between a couple of the lakes. You’re supposed to camp within 15 feet of wooden posts around these lakes but there were so many people camped already when we arrived that we couldn’t find any to camp by. Oh well, we might disrupt a few rocks and ants, but I don’t think we’re disturbing much else. 

We set up and ate dinner as it started getting dark with an awesome view of the South Sister. 

The best view you could ask for on a reroute for a fire detour. 

We climbed in the tent around 9:00 to get warm and get out of the breeze. I’m surprised that we can actually see a few stars tonight with all the smoke, but we seemed to end up camping right between the two plumes. We heard talk when we got to the lake from some other hikers that the alternate we’re on right now might have just closed down up ahead. We’re hoping it’s false news, but nothing we can do about it now besides get some rest and figure it out in the morning.

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