Friday, August 22, 2014

Back to the PCT day one highway 242 to Big Lake Youth Camp

August 14th
Day one Highway 242 to Big Lake Youth Camp
12.5 miles 600 feet elevation loss ( trail mile 1990-2002.5)


I got up and cooked breakfast for my family and said my goodbyes and hit the road at about 7:15 am. The 114 mile drive to Saint Helens was uneventful other than my GPS routing me down a dirt road that saved me a few miles.  At Saint Helens I met my hiking partner and ride to the trail head for this journey.  I think she wants to use the trail name “Aimless” so that is what I will call her in this blog post.

Aimless and her friend drove me to highway 242 so I could start my hike; Aimless would join me in the morning at highway 20.  I had a resupply package to pick up at Big Lake Youth Camp.  I sent that package when I thought I was going to be hiking all of the Oregon PCT with my daughter.

PCT trailhead at highway 242

I was dropped off at the PCT at 4pm; a couple of pictures and off I went.  My original goal was Big Lake Youth Camp but I did not have enough time for that, so my new goal was to make it in 5 miles and camp somewhere after the lava beds end.

The weather was cool and misty and my load was light.  I had only packed ½ days worth of food for this leg, but I had all my other gear plus 4 liters of water.  Right away I dumped out one liter of water.  I’m not used to carrying water and I did not know how much water I would need, but 4 liters seemed excessive.  I did the math 12 miles and 3 liters of water, every 4 miles I could drink or dump a liter.
Lava rock trail, it got worse after this

Burnt trees

No real veiws on this misty day
My hike started in a lava field and the going was rough, sharp little rocks on a narrow trail.  I could not just stretch my legs out and go; I had to watch every step.  Once an hour I looked at my GPS to see how far I had gone.  I hoped to go at least 2mph.  Every hour my GPS gave me good news; I was hiking at a good clip and would have no trouble getting off the lava before sunset at 8:15.  But could I make it to the youth camp?  No that’s silly... I kept telling myself that was a silly idea and I needed to put it out of my head.

Before I knew it I was off the lava and I was able to start moving fast.  I looked at my GPS I was going almost 4mph on the smooth trail with a light load.  Maybe I could make the Youth Camp before dark?  No, that was not possible, but I could just hike in the dark and hope that the Youth Camp would not be upset with me for coming in late.

I made myself eat and drink every hour.  I wanted energy and I needed to get rid of my food.  I had 5 days worth of food for 2 people waiting for me at Big Lake and I was not going to try to lose weight on this hike.  I knew I was going to have to dump some of my resupply for me and my daughter into the hiker box, since my daughter was not hiking with me anymore.

The sun started to set and I wondered if I should keep going.  Then I remembered the woman who had been stalked by Mountain Lions while hiking in the dusk in this area.  I quickened my pace and I knew for sure that I was going to hike all the way into Big Lake Youth Camp.

  It was getting dark when I found the trail down to the Lake.  The sun set was pretty, so even though I was running out of time I paused to put my camera on a rock and get a couple of sunset shots while I answered the call of nature.

Sunset on the hills behind Big Lake

The light is fading and so is the bear grass

It was very dark when I arrived at the camp at 8:45pm and the headquarters were closed.  Everyone was in the lodge singing songs and praying.  After talking to a few very friendly people, I got directions to the hiker camping area on the “cove” trail.  I headed down the cove trail but I did not go all the way to the cove.

Trail to Big Lake Youth camp splits from the PCT here

 Daylight was fading and I wanted some light to pitch my tarp by.  I went off trail and onto a little spit and pitched my tarp there.  I used my red light so I would not attract too much attention.  I did not know if I was in a spot that okay or not, but I did know that it would be dark soon and I was probably far enough away from the camp to be okay.

I sat in my tent and ate some food out of my bag and then I went to sleep at about 10pm.  I woke up in the night a few times and I tried to finish off all of my food before morning.
My campsite at Big Lake the next morning

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