Today was a good day, one filled with good cheer and triumph for Pinecone and Quiz, Mushy, Achey J and Waterdog completed their first 30 miles day. Woo hoo, and well done.
Everyone headed out of camp at various times this morning. I left around 6 and passed the girls and mushy breakfasting around 3 miles in. We were walking through forest, much of the same stuff that’s been with us for the last while. I had organised to meet Ollie at Sisters Mirror Lake for breakfast and for 11 miles u climbed up toward the Sisters Wilderness sometimes getting glimpses of a beautiful mountain range in the distance. I met Amethyst atop the climb and we walked quickly down toward the lake and toward the swarms of mozzies waiting our arrival. As the ground became wet they attacked, all over my legs and face, my hands and in my hair. It was an onslaught. I whipped out my mozzie spray, eucalyptus and lemon oil, sprayed myself and found a breakfast spot beside the lake. Guthooks talks this lake up, but it wasn’t very interesting. Soon after Ollie arrived and we sat beside one another eating and killing mozzies. While we breakfasted the rest of the crew turned up in dribs and drabs, all overwhelmed by the mozzie infestation. I packed up and walked on, round the lake and up through forest. After 2 miles the forest opened up and the most wonderful sight laid itself out in front of me. Mountains! Snow! Open meadows! Views and scenery I had been sorely missing these last few sections. I was captivated by the scenery and walked across the plain enjoying every step.
The miles rolled by like it was nothing. I passed a group of 5 cowboys on horseback, then they passed me and we all lunched at the same spot. It was 1.15 pm and I had walked 21 miles (34 kms). I ate my oats, drank my water and waited for Ollie. He never showed up. The cowboys left, and people passed me. Eventually after 1.5 hours I left and walked to the Obsydian Falls. Amethyst and Queso where already there, and we stripped down and stood, shrieking under the freezing water.
Everyone else arrived, apart from Ollie and had a dip. They had all decided to walk a 30 and so I joined them. The last 5 miles where some of the best on trail so far. Above the falls a lovely stream flows around the volcanic and ancient ranges, quirky pines grow out of the black stone that glistens in the sun. We gained elevation up a valley completely covered in volcanic rock. The sheer scope of how far the lava must have flowed when the volcano erupted was almost incomprehensible. For miles and miles into the horizon volcanic lava flow spewed out leaving the landscape dark, hostile and daunting.
The trail snakes it’s way up the guts of the valley and we came out into a narrow ridge line which we then decended to grab some water before the final .9 miles. They went quickly, and we walked through a meadow of wildflowers. It was magic. Snowy mountains in the back ground, wildflowers out front and 30 miles under our belt. There was still no sign of Ollie and I was slightly worried. I left him a note on the trail where we had agreed to camp and hoped he would find it before night fall. We ate dinner, and I looked out across the meadow waiting for the tell tales signs of a preying mantis walking through the field. He didn’t show up as the sky turned bright pink, and purple clouds filled the horizon. Just as I was about to turn my back on the sunset and get ready for bed I heard a Kooie. Ollie was walking across the meadow, finishing off a 36 mile day. He had taken a wrong turn, ended up on a road and followed unmaintained trails back to the PCT. No one had seen him since breakfast. I was very happy, as we all are feeling.