July 31, 2017
Total daily miles: 16.7 miles
Total PCT miles: 1291.5
Start: mile 1981.7
End: Santiam Pass (mile 1998.4)
Total elevation gain/loss: 1961/2371.4 ft
Despite being near the highway, I slept really well last night. The best part was that my feet felt much better as we got going this morning than they did last night! Which was a good thing, since we started with a stretch over more lava rock.
The other good news this morning is that the lava section was much shorter than I had feared. Based on our map, it looked like we’d spend several miles walking over lava, but it ended up being a much shorter stint with much smaller lava rock than the end of the day yesterday. It was still a slow start to the day and I was definitely happy to have waited, but it was over within a couple of miles and we largely stayed in the shade.
Shortly after finishing the lava rock section, we ran into a couple of hikers that we’d last seen at Kennedy Meadows (I only later realized that I couldn’t remember their trail names, just that they were both nurses!). They also skipped the High Sierra and are currently hiking southbound for awhile before finishing at the Canadian border (they live in the Seattle area, so that makes sense). It was fun to catch up with some familiar faces, but also sad to know that we wouldn’t likely see them again.
A couple miles later, I could hear a couple familiar voices coming up behind me. One was Michael and the other was Valley Girl! We haven’t seen him since we arrived at Crater Lake (the first time)! He and A-Game went into Bend from McKenzie Pass (where we camped last night), so they’ve already zeroed and are now back on trail. It was great to catch up with Valley a bit while we hiked (we didn’t see A-Game). He mentioned an upcoming fire and so I filled him in on the fire intel that I picked up a couple days ago regarding the fire around Eagle Creek. After catching up for awhile, Valley stopped for a break while we continued on.
This section of trail wasn’t the most inspiring. We had some intermittent tree cover after crossing the lava patch and then lots of burn zone. During one of the more tree-covered sections, a couple of horses (and their riders) came down to the trail from up the hill and soon passed us. It’s amazing how few horses we’ve seen thus far on the trail, although I’m not sure that following immediately behind horses is my favorite way to hike…
As we hiked through the burn zone, we ran into a couple of hikers who had just been dropped off at Santiam Pass for a one-week section hike. They asked if we’d run into a brightly dressed trail runner (we had) who had been their ride to the trail, and they hinted that maybe she could give us a ride into Bend. With the incentive of an easy hitch into town, we rushed through those law few miles. Unfortunately, she ran back past me on the trail while I was grabbing some water at our only water source for the day (this was quite the dry section!). Michael showed up not long after and said that he’d spoken with the runner and that she might be able to give us a ride if we were fast enough since she needed to get back to town.
We rushed to the road, which wasn’t much of a loss in terms of appreciating the scenery — it was a hot, dry burn-zone. At the road, we tried to hitch for a few minutes before the runner (Renee) pulled up to pick us up. We did our best to squish in alongside the other three hikers that she’d picked up at the trailhead, but we were just happy to have a ride. That’s when we found out that the other three hikers had all turned back from a fire north of Santiam Pass… ugh, that must have been the fire Valley mentioned, not the one further north. Renee dropped off two of the hikers in Sisters so that they could use the internet to figure out what to do about the fire closure, while we continued on to Bend. Except we sort of turned the wrong way out of Sisters and almost ended up back at the trailhead first… oops! I guess we were having too much fun chatting with Renee, who is a professional runner and owns a local gym that had beer yoga tonight!
Once we turned around and made it back to Bend, Renee dropped us off at the REI. She also mentioned that she might have a futon available for us to crash on and to stop by her gym later if we were interested. Sweet! We did our shopping at REI (smaller sized underwear for me, new socks for Michael) and picked up our resupply package (which we’d shipped to REI).
I don’t think I previously mentioned this, but Michael also received a brand new backpack! The lining on the back of his backpack that holds the back pad in place was disintegrating and when he contacted Gossamer Gear regarding how to best fix this they offered to send him a new pack free of charge! Since he had just purchased a smaller waist band he only had them send the pack itself (they are sold separately), but we had to wait until a location where he could also mail his old pack back to them (using a shipping label that they provided). This was the first time since Ashland that we had access to a post office, so we had them ship the package to the REI so that we could pick it up alongside our resupply package. Michael must be the only person who got his Gossamer Gear pack at REI!
After finishing at REI we were starving. While we were studying our phones for a spot to eat, a local came up and asked if we needed any help. Not only did he give us a lunch recommendation, he gave us a ride there! We ended up at Spoken Moto, which ended up being a great spot to grab a beer, a bite to eat at a food truck parked outside, and even sort our resupply package on a picnic table outside. Of course, our activities didn’t escape notice, and we had a couple nice chats with locals including one who works for a energy bar company and gave us one to try out. Awesome! It’s amazing how welcoming everyone in Bend has been!
By the time we were done organizing our resupply, it was time to head over to Renee’s gym, Recharge. We took her up on her offer to try out the facilities, including a shower and recovery room. The leg boots were awesome (they used compressed air to massage our legs) and (unbeknownst to us at the time) we had a good chat with a former Olympic skier! And then of course, we had to try out beer yoga. To prevent spills, we had lids and straws for our brew, which was probably a good idea. Renee had warned us that the class was not a typical yoga class, but since neither of us have much yoga experience (Michael has none), it ended up being more challenging than I think either of us expected. I couldn’t help but laugh at myself as I tried to hold some of the positions (while sipping my beer) — I had just hiked 16 miles this morning and this was my idea of relaxation?! That said, it ended up being loads of fun and seemed like a very “Bend” activity to join. Anyone hiking the trail should definitely check out Recharge and mention that you’re a hiker (they were very generous with their first time user rate)!
Renee was excited to see us this afternoon and immediately offered her futon for us to stay on during our zero in Bend. We briefly stopped by her place to drop off our stuff and then joined her and another runner at an Indian spot near her place. A great evening overall and definitely not what I expected when I woke up this morning.
In depressing news, we’ve had a chance to look into the fire that’s north of where we got off trail in Jefferson Wilderness. There are currently 11 miles of trail that have been closed off and replaced with a recommended 45-mile reroute including lots of road walking!!
Our current plan is to hike the reroute, but I’m sure that we’ll be researching any updates we can find tomorrow. I’m not excited about an extra day of hiking, but I really want to connect my footsteps from Mexico to Canada, so I guess that’s the only option. From what we’re hearing, it sounds like we just missed another fire in the Crater Lake area, so I guess we’re luck in that regard.
Michael: sore feet.