A bunch of queers and an ally friend head out to do a 10 day, 100 mile section hike on the PCT. So much excitement, so much anxiety …
Wednesday July 22, 2015. Diamond Lake to PCT: 7 miles, PCT to Mt. Thielsen Creek: 2.2 miles, then from the creek to a dry campsite: 2.3 miles = 11.5 mile day.
I woke up excited and pretty nervous at Diamond Lake Resort to get on the trail today since this was the first long trip over 3 days I had ever done. I spent the night filled with anxiety and letting out terrible diarrhea … so needless to say I was a little worried what this trip might do to me. 😐
Things started out slowly while we packed our bags full to the brim and then re packed them. Now that it was time to actually carry these monsters 100 miles the last chance to purge got real. Items tossed back in the car were a giant bottle of sunscreen, a hard back book , extra snacks that seemed like total overkill, and a can of wine. So we got started a little later than I would have liked (which I would soon learn would become a theme on this trip) I’m one of those perky asshole early risers, my comrades not so much. But moving on, we finally all loaded into the car to Howlock Mountain Trailhead. Yay!
There were a few gear snaffu’s we encounter at the trailhead before we could start hiking. Hiddy Ho’s camel back sprung a leak at the hose attachment joint and was down for the count. Luckily Buggy had an extra 1 liter bottle and Hiddy could use our water filter bag to carry more if needed. And I had to McGyver my water bag to stay closed because I left the sliding top closure at home and didn’t realize it until just this moment, genius. Luckily we figured things out quickly and we got on the trail at 10:30am and started our uphill ascent. Look us, we are hiking on the PCT!
The trail was really dusty for the first few miles, as it is well used by trail riders and their horses whose butts drop an extraordinary amount of turds everywhere…however it was very pretty, well shaded, and we are hiking so who cares!?! We made great time on our first 4 miles (1:45 mins) then we hit a long uphill with switchbacks and shit got real. Like oh dang this is BACKPACKING real and it’s so hot and oh geez this is hard, real.
We took a lunch break somewhere on the switchbacks on some random blow downs, in a nice shady spot. After much deserved calories we continued up the hill with great views of Diamond Lake below and Mt Thielsen peaking through the trees above us.
We finally got to the PCT trail junction at 4.8 miles in and hit a great look out spot of the surrounding tree covered landscape before us. My mind was all a flutter, I’m hiking in Oregon, that’s so cool, it’s so full of trees, look at what I am doing, it’s so awesome! I was pretty stoked most of the day and my body was feeling good.
Mt. Thielsen towered above us so tall and pointy! It is easy to see from this advantage point why lightning is so drawn to it. ⚡️
We also met our first thru-hiker eating a snickers bar, an older gentleman who had just descended from Mt Thielsen peak to take in the views. We chatted with him for a few minutes and stared with envy at his tiny bag. Our bags looked like behemoth monsters next to his and weighed probably 3 times as much.
We finally moved on since we still had miles to make and soon got a downhill break that swung us below Mt. Thielsen along a very pretty area with volcanic rocks in shades of red, grey, and brown that then varied into huge grey boulder fields.
A few very small patches of snow could still be seen hugging to the mountains shady spots as it peaked through the trees at us as we dropped into denser forest. We wound down around to Mt Thielsen Creek, which was stunning and very welcoming to our tired bodies. It was 3:30pm when we arrived and we stayed there until 6pm. We just relaxed in the disappearing sun, ate our first dinners on the trail, listened to the small waterfall crash over the rocks, all while staring up at the back side of Mt Thielsen. We also refilled our water bags and Nalgenes with the freezing and refreshing clear water. This creek definitely runs down from the few snow patches we could see on the mountain and is why it is mentioned as seasonal in the trail notes, as it disappears with the snow melt. It’s pretty fucked up, in the best way, how pretty it is here.
Several thru-hikers came through while we had our dinner break and stopped to fill up their plastic bottles, which they did not filter, and then jammed on through. Like the badasses they are. Some day I wanna grow up to be a thru-hiker.
Our next water source from here is Maidu Lake, at about 10 miles away, and since other hikers had already settled across the creek in the only camp site, we decided to push on a few miles more to a dry campsite listed on the Halfmile maps.
The next 2.3 miles felt like THE WORST and put a damper on everyone’s mood. The dry camp is nice enough though, it’s very shady, surrounded by a quiet Hemlock and Pine grove, with big bonus boulder tables.
The downside to these bonus boulder tables are that they may have a crack that runs down the side of them, that I promptly lost Hiddy Ho’s spork down, that had a means of no return, so we have to share a utensil until our mid way resupply at Shelter Cove. Whoopsie.
But we do have the camp to ourselves and quickly set up our tents by 7pm. I was the only one who brought my food in a hang bag, the others choosing bear canisters. I think they are total weirdos, since bear cans are not required in Oregon and weigh a metric ton. I do appreciate the flexibility and ease of not having to find a good tree limb each night to hang your food and to just be able to toss it in your bear can, but I appreciate a lighter, smaller pack even more than convenience.
I chose a great cuben fiber sack from Zpacks for the trip that is totally light and rad. I quickly found a good place to throw my rock over and am promptly nestled in my sleeping bag at 8:30pm. There is a pretty sunset that I could not rouse myself from my warm cocoon to see but the others said it was great so I stuck my arm out of the tent to take a picture, ultimate laziness. Which surprisingly came out good…
I am worried about not sleeping well but am pretty tired so we’ll see.