Day 93: We Found the Lava Fields!

July 19, 2017

Total daily miles: 26.8 miles (26.3 PCT + 0.5 side trail to camp)

Total PCT miles: 1372.1

Start: mile 1752.7

End: Squaw Lake (mile 1779)

Total elevation gain/loss: 3115.2/2984.6 ft

Getting out of the tent this morning took courage. We could hear the buzz of mosquitoes outside our tent door and it was clear that we’d be swarmed immediately. We packed up the tent as quickly as possible, but still couldn’t move quickly enough to escape the bugs. As soon as the tent was away, I was off!

It’s hard to get the perspective on this, but that PCT marker on the tree was huge!


The morning started out in trees again, with a short climb and then descent. I was starting to think that’s what we’d be hiking in all day when we reached a lava field. It looked exactly like what I thought the lava fields around Hat Creek Rim would look like (but they didn’t). I guess I confused my lava fields!

Lava fields offered no escape from blow downs.


Most of the lava fields were easy to cross because the trails through the fields were filled in with fine dirt. Talk about a lot of work to build this trail! There were a few areas where we had to cross on bigger rocks that slowed us down a little, but I wasn’t sure if the rocks or the direct sunlight over the fields was worse. It was pretty hot while walking over the fields, but at least there were fewer mosquitoes! Still a great change of scenery from the green tunnel we’ve been walking through.


I found a semi-hidden tent spot in the shade to stop for lunch. Michael almost passed by without even noticing me (and he probably would have if I didn’t say anything). We didn’t have many more lava fields to walk through after lunch and soon enough found ourselves back in the trees.

Stream = more mosquitoes!


The mosquitoes this afternoon was vicious. I hiked for a bit with a young couple from Germany, which provided some needed distraction from the bugs. They were both wearing long sleeved shirts and long pants — which was starting to seem like a better idea than my shorts and t-shirt.

After a largely flat day, we actually had a decent 1000+ foot climb. The trees provided much-needed protection from the hot afternoon, but I spent much of the climb focused on the fact that I’d get to go for a swim at the end of the day. We planned to stop at the end of the day at Squaw Lake, which was a bit off trail but was the only water for awhile.

I was surprised when I arrived at the lake that no one was already there to camp for the night. I decided to take advantage of the situation by quickly going for a topless swim (to keep my hiking bra “dry”). I was immediately swarmed by mosquitoes. Getting into the water became a priority in order to escape the blood suckers.  Unfortunately, this wasn’t the easiest lake to get into because there were a bunch of logs in the water. I almost fell over as I tried to rush into the water. I’m sure that the sight would have been humorous had anyone else been there to watch — half naked women almost injuring herself to escape the mosquitoes. 

Squaw Lake at sunset.


My swim ended up being a short one. The lake was shallow near the shore and there was a lot of sediment and downed logs. I basically got in far enough to crouch down and get myself wet to ward off the bugs. Refreshing, if not relaxing. Then it was time to get out and try to stay covered (before more people showed up!). My bug spray just isn’t powerful enough match for these bugs! I ended up sitting in my tyvek ground sheet (burrito-style on the bottom) and rain jacket on top while waiting for Michael to show up. The method worked to escape the bugs, even if I looked ridiculous.

Obviously, we ate our dinner in the tent. Too bad, since the view along the lake was great, but we hope to survive another day without being completely covered in bug bites. A couple more people showed up to camp here, but I don’t recognize anyone.


We assessed our food this evening. Despite my thought that we bought way too much food while in Ashland, it’s looking like that originally assessment was wrong. I guess we forgot to grab an additional lunch, so we only have one more left. I guess we’ll have to get into Crater Lake by lunchtime in a couple days if we don’t want to go hungry!

Current ailments:

Elizabeth: none.

Michael: sore left foot.

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