Friday, August 22, 2014

Back to the PCT day two Big Lake to Koko Lake

August 15th
Day 2
Big Lake Youth Camp to Koko Lake
Trail mile 2002.5 to 2018 15.5 miles
I was woken up by really noisy boaters on the lake at 6am.  They yelled as they launched their boat and then their boat made huge waves that loudly lapped at the little peninsula that I was camped on. 

campsite at Big Lake

My tent was covered in condensation inside and out thanks to my camping in the middle of a lake. I boiled water for coffee and then  I packed up my stuff and headed into the Youth Camp to use the flush toilets and the shower.  I was told that breakfast would be in a few minutes.
 I asked if it was okay for me to take a shower at this time of day and they said yes.    I felt lucky to be allowed to take a shower before 8pm.  I probably only got away with it because I am a woman.  Maybe I could have gotten a towel and soap if I had been showering at the right time of day, but did not want to push my luck.

After my shower I wandered into the breakfast hall and it looked like only cereal was being served.  I had enough food and I did not have hiker hunger, so I said that I just wanted a cup of coffee.  I was directed to the tea area, and then a person stopped me and told me that coffee was only served at the coffee bar at the headquarters.  I wondered why breakfast did not include coffee, but I gave it very little thought.     A sign on the trail before Big Lake said that meals cost $6.00, but I got they feeling that they would not have charged me for breakfast if I had decided to eat. 

Big Lake Youth Camp headquarters
I wandered up to the headquarters building and found that it did not open until 8:30, so I would have to wait for both coffee and my resupply package.  Then I found a building with hiker boxes and hikers inside of it.   

two of three hiker boxes at Big Lake

The hikers had actually slept in the building and some of them (Germans?) were kind of territorial about the building, but they soon left and went to breakfast.  I stayed and looked through the hiker box.  I could not believe how big it was and how much good food was in it.  I fished out two packs of tuna a can of sardines and two full bags of trail mix.  I ate a pack of tuna and a can of sardines for breakfast and then I moved my stuff out to a picnic table where no one could get territorial with me.  All the outlets in the building seemed to be taken up, but I found one outlet behind a book shelf that I used to top up the charge on my Delorme and my IPod. 

At 8:30 I registered with the headquarters and picked up my resupply box.  When I was handed my box I started to cry.  I had not expected that at all.  
I was sad that my daughter was not with me, there was food and vitamins in that box for both of us.  I took my box to the picnic table and began to cry almost uncontrollably.  It’s been so long since I have really cried that I just let the tears flow.  I thought I had forgotten how to cry until this happened.  While I was crying a man came up and started asking me questions about hiking.  I was polite to him but I still managed to get him to leave me alone rather quickly, I don’t know if he saw that I was crying. 

My resupply box on a picnic table outside of
 Big Lake Youth camp headquarters
I sorted out my resupply.  I opted to put a full unopened jar or peanut butter, and unopened package of 12 burrito sized tortillas, two bean dinners and three dehydrator sheets of tomato sauce into the hiker box.  I kept everything else and I added one pack of tuna and two bags of trail mix that I found in the hiker box.  I had decided in advance to dump all the beans since I had been having digestive issues since Crater Lake. 

With my resupply sorted out I went back into headquarters to get a cup of coffee.  I also got a neoprene holder for my reading glasses for just 50 cents.   It was bright red and said “Big Lake” on it.  The woman who served my coffee was not quite as friendly as the other staff and the woman who rang up my coffee would not even make eye contact with me. 
 I wondered why those two women were acting so different from everyone else, but I did not put too much thought into it.  Later on in my hike I learned that 7th Day Adventists don’t drink coffee and that the coffee bar must have been set up just for outsiders. 

The same man came back and asked me more questions about thru- hiking culture.  I apologized for being a little short with him before, explained that I had been crying and then deferred his questions to an actual thru- hiker who started in Mexico.
Leaving Big Lake Youth Camp headed North
I sent some Delorme messages to Aimless to let her know where I was and I hit the trial at about 9:15.  I had to hike about 5.5 miles to meet Aimless at highway 20 and then the plan was to hike 11 miles to Koko Lake.  Aimless had spent the night in a hotel room in Sisters.  This would be my longest ever day of backpacking.  It's quite rare for me to go over 14 miles on even a day hike.

Trail from Big Lake to highway 20
Walking down highway 20 to find the trail magic

I crossed highway 20 at about 11:45 and went the wrong way because there was a sign directing hikers to some trail magic.  Aimless pulled up in front of me while I was walking down the highway.  What wonderful timing.  I rode up to the trailhead with Aimless and found the trail magic but did not take any of it since I was really just starting.   We took a before picture said our goodbyes and started our journey to Koko Lake at noon. 
Free boots near the trail head and highway 20
I don’t like starting so late in the day, but I was not really starting there at highway 20, I had actually started at the Youth Camp.  We agreed on Koko Lake as a destination.  There was to be no water on the trail today until Koko Lake so we both carried three liters.  We compared pack weights and found that my pack was about five pounds heavier thanks to all the food I was carrying and thanks to my 42 ounce three person tarp tent.  Aimless had a 16 ounce cuben fiber MLD tent. 

The trail wound through dry burnt forests and then up and over the shoulder of three fingered jack and then back down into more burnt forests.  The weather was hot and clear and I could look back and see Mount Washington.  I had not been able to see Mount Washington at all when I had hiked past it the day before.

More burnt forest

Looking back to Mount Washington and Big Lake (?)
Lots of dirt on my camera image sensor

Three Fingered Jack

Aimless works her way down the shoulder of Three Fingered Jack

More burnt forest

At one point I began to worry about water so I decided to race ahead to find the water.  Instead I found a patch of snow so I stopped there and waited.  I happily ate the snow after scraping away the dirty upper layer. While I was stopped I took off my shoes and cleaned my feet.  My feet hurt and I was tired.  I was also having the same digestive issues that plagued me at Crater Lake.  What was up with that? 

Aimless soon caught up and said she was having a leg cramp so I made her a cup of emergenC  with filtered snow water.  She would not eat the snow but was okay with drinking filtered snow melt.  The emergency did not help her leg cramp but at least it got some extra water into her as she was down to less than a liter of water.  Aimless was having ankle trouble, she had not been able to find time to train on the trail and had to train on a treadmill instead, so her ankles were not used to uneven surfaces.
We were slow getting into Koko lake and when we did get there, it was not much to look at.   The lake was very shallow and it surrounded by dead forest.  We filtered water, pitched our tarps and went to bed without cooking dinner.   Two fishermen camped at the lake started a fire and I asked them if they knew that fires were not permitted.  They said that their stove had broken and they just needed to boil some water, so I did not push the issue.  The dead burnt forest was so dry that the fire made me nervous.

Campsite at Koko Lake
Reflective pond near Koko Lake

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