August 15, 2015
Bradley Creek Trailhead Junction (1879.7) to Large Pond after Mount Yoran trail junction (1907.9)
28.2 PCT miles today
1950.2 miles total
Today’s Elevation Gain/Loss: + 3,406 ft, – 3,970 ft
We have finally re-entered a land of views and lakes, and it is so inspiring and invigorating that it actually helps us hike faster and further. Today’s trail was still Oregon-smooth, but with the enchantment of mountain lakes added in, it made for a whole new Oregon experience. To put it simply, today we had a very enjoyable, and successful, hike.
We forgot to set our alarm last night, so this morning we slept in a bit (until 5:15am), and didn’t get on the trail until quarter to 7. We began this 5-day hike with about 8 days of food (we have done higher mileage so have cut out a day of hiking, we had a dinner leftover from our last ration, and we snagged a lot of extra treats from friends and the hiker box at Mazama Village), so not only have we had 3 nights in a row of “double dinners” and extra snacks to boot, but this morning we even got “double breakfast”. It is crazy to us that we can effectively double our calorie intake and still not feel full or sluggish. Quite to the contrary, we’ve had significantly more energy on this ration than usual and are seriously considering bulking up all our future rations as well.
Our morning flew by as we slowly alternated between 5 mile long ascents and descents, traversing around jagged peaks (like that of Cowhorn Mountain and Diamond Peak) and around the edges of lakes and ponds. We are incredibly fortunate to be past mosquito season, which we were reminded of today as we walked past miles of boggy ground without a mosquito in sight. Apparently this part of the trail can be nightmarish when it comes to our bloodsucking enemies, but I suppose nature has figured that we were sufficiently challenged in Yosemite and is letting us off the hook in Oregon.
We surprised ourselves by already hiking over 16 miles by lunch, and were overjoyed to find a perfect lunch spot right on the shores of beautiful Summit Lake, where we took our time eating, washing, and pretending for a moment that we were weekend car campers, able to sit by the lake all day, and not thru-hikers who needed to still get in another 12 miles before setting up camp. After a good long sit, as we were preparing to leave, some other campers who fit the bill of weekend warriors perfectly offered us, first, water, which we politely declined since we had just treated some out of the lake, and then ice cold beer, which we eagerly accepted. We continued down the trail with our history audiobook playing over our speaker, beers in hand, and bellies full of delicious treats.
We spent the whole afternoon immersed in the history of the world (today included the colonization of Australia, the War of Independence in North America, the French Revolution, and more) while marveling at Diamond Peak and its surrounding wilderness area. We weren’t sure what to expect from our “large pond” water source where we planned to camp, but when we turned a corner 28 miles into our day and spotted a full-blown alpine lake with ducks, a sandy beach, and private tentsites, it felt like the perfect ending to an already-great day.
Looking ahead, the next couple days seem much more diverse and interesting than Southern Oregon, and we’re excited to continue north into an area of the state that truly feels like home.