July 14, 2016
Six Horse Springs Junction (mile 1869.6) to Diamond View Lake (Oregon Skyline Trail mile 15.7)
Miles: 21.8 (6.1 PCT miles + 15.7 miles on the OST)
Our campsite was in a little fortress of trees and logs. While it was cozy, the probability of rodent visitors was high. We both slept with ear plugs to drown out noises of critters that live in, under and around logs.
We woke up at 7 am. We felt like we were living in luxury, waking up naturally and taking our time to get ready. These are some of the perks of hiking alone. We are not accountable to anyone other than ourselves.
The night before we had decided to dial it back a bit. Our bodies were not liking the 24 mile hiking days and we constantly felt tired. We opted to slow down to 20 miles per day and take the Oregon Skyline Trail today, which would take us directly to Shelter Cove, provide more frequent access to water and save a total of 10 miles.
The PCT option near Diamond Peak was supposed to be covered in snow for 3 to 4 miles. At this point lakes sounded better than snow covered trail.
The mosquitoes were out and waiting for us to emerge from the tent. Andy’s clothing is baggy but since women’s clothing is more form fitting, Laurie gets bitten through her bug shirt and pants.
She put on rain pants and her raincoat to add another layer of protection for the 10 minutes it took to disassemble our home.
Just before we left Laurie took off her rain pants and rain coat and started wiggling around while telling the mosquitoes to stay away. No bites, wahoo!
We started walking at 8 am, one of our latest starts on this entire hike. The mosquito swarm followed us as we hiked. We attempted to eat breakfast (a bar) and drink water as we walked since movement seemed to be the only thing that kept them at reasonable levels.
Within 10 minutes of leaving camp we encountered about 15 down logs in a half mile segment. Some of these trunks were so large we couldn’t straddle them.
This is thru hiking.
No matter the trail conditions or weather, you just keep hiking.
These days it never feels like simple backpacking. There is always some added challenge – whether it is snow, heat, mosquitoes, rain, blowdowns or a combination of two or more.
We miss the simple trail in the desert. At least there the challenges (lack of water mostly) were predictable.
We suppose these lessons in living and continuing despite discomforts is good practice for life. As we all know, life doesn’t go as we plan, despite our wishes that it would.
We wandered six miles through the forest, catching brief glimpses through the trees to other ridges and some snow capped mountains.
When we are not dodging blown downs or swatting at mosquitoes, the walking is pleasant. The ground is soft and the bird songs are calming. The monotony of the forest offers time to look within for entertainment.
At one point Laurie stopped to go to the bathroom. The mosquitoes swarmed so badly that Andy had to come over and rub her legs to keep them from biting as she wiped. Now that is true love!
At Windigo junction we veered off the PCT for a 20 mile alternate on the Oregon Skykine Trail. We walked down a forest service road for 0.6 miles before cutting off on a string of trails.
Immediately the density of the forest decreased. With the increased sunlight, the number of mosquitoes decreased. For the first time all day, we walked without our headnets.
By the number of tire tracks, the trail appeared to be a popular mountain biking route. This worked in our favor since all the down trees had been cut. It was glorious walking 9 miles without the start and stop required to step over, under or around logs.
Around noon we took a short side trail to Oldenberg Lake to get water. With one glance at the lake Laurie decided she was going for a swim.
The water was surprisingly warm and felt good on her aching knee. Andy waded in to clean himself off. It was very refreshing and lifted our spirits.
We ate lunch as we dried off, watching dragonflies fly around us.
We cruised along, enjoying the clear trail and mostly downhill and flat walking. As we neared Cresecent Lake we left the trail in search of a spigot.
We first went to a group camp but there was no faucet. We continued on the road to a day use picnic area. Unfortunately there was no faucet there either, but there was a huge lake staring at us we could get water from.
Andy got water from the shore as Laurie went swimming, again. The beach was sandy and the water clear. It looked almost like a tropical beach, minus the palm trees.
Crescent Lake was so pretty it was hard to leave. So we didn’t. We had cheese, crackers and lime flavored water for happy hour and then dragged ourselves back to the trail around 5pm.
The first 3 miles were nice. Again the blow downs had been recently cut and the walking, although uphill, was easy. After 3 miles though, the trail became a maze.
“Maybe these trees blew down after the trail crews had gone through” Andy told Laurie.
We wound our way around and over logs, slowly making our way to camp.
As we neared Diamond View Lake we ran into Derek, the first northbound hiker we have seen in 2 days. Ten minutes later we approached a campsite with 3 tents, one of which we recognized.
It was Speed!
He crawled out to give us each a hug and hung out as we made dinner. It was nice to see Speed again. We had become a trail family and it had felt different these past 4 days hiking alone.
The mosquitoes were fiesty. There were less near the lake so we stood on the shore to eat. It wasn’t very comfortable standing to eat but we didn’t want to lift our headnets anywhere else.
We chatted with Speed, Katie and Boone (Speed’s friends) and made a plan to hike out to Shelter Cove together in the morning.
We all retreated to our tents to get away from the mozzies. The moon is bright and the air is getting cooler. Today turned into an awesome day with two dips in Oregon lakes and reuniting with friends.
Tonight we are grateful for clear trail and swim-able lakes.