Beginning Elevation = 4,800
Ending Elevation = 6,250
Elevation Range = 4,800-6,500
Weather: Sunny and cloudy/overcast/foggy/windy, high around 75°F
Our morning began with another trip to the hotel breakfast spread. I think we were up pretty early and walked down there around 6:30am or so. Afterwards, we began packing up and finalizing our packages to ship out. Then, it was off walking around Bend to finish up our town tasks!
First stop was UPS. I guess some of the places we’re shipping don’t accept USPS, luckily this was just across the road.
Then, over to Walgreens so I could get a new cord for my battery pack/phone charger. Boom, success.
Next up, back to the hotel for a quick pit-stop to get more boxes and Snickers’ holey Darn Tough socks. We left again and made our way to a nearby shoe store where Snickers exchanged his worn socks for a new pair. They have a lifetime warranty which is superb. Once this feat was accomplished (see what I did there😉), we ventured over to the post office where we finally shipped the last of our packages. I also shoved Monica’s pack that I’d been carrying and some of the rain gear I no longer needed into a box and sent home as well.
By the time all of that was taken care of it was nearing our checkout time. So, just before 11:00am we hauled on the packs, checked out of the hotel, and made our way to the roadside in hopes of getting a hitch back to the trail, or at least towards it. We’d failed at lining up a ride with a trail angel, so hitchhiking was our plan. Rather than stay put and try by the hotel, we chose to start walking down the street to maybe get to a spot where cars could easily pull off to the side.
It didn’t take long surprisingly, maybe fifteen minutes before someone along a side street started yelling at us. We had passed by her, so she had her window down yelling “Hey hikers!” When we ran over, she explained she could get us to the edge of town, which she said was the best place to hitch from. During our conversation, we found out she had trail name of “Chip” from when she hiked the Application Trail and now she works for a company that does wilderness therapy. She was super nice and we were very thankful for the ride. It was a good spot. I don’t think any of us realized we were in the middle of Bend before, not an ideal spot at all.
We got set up hitching again, Snickers with his “Hiker to Trail” sign. Just about when we were becoming discouraged that we might not get a ride, I noticed a black SUV that had pulled to the shoulder, down the road past/behind us. And, there was someone walking towards us! We hadn’t seen the car slow down and so hadn’t seen it right away. As we got closer the person looked somewhat familiar. Sure enough…it was Heather, Calzone’s sisters friend who’d picked us up last night. We were so happy to see her!
And it worked out so well that she was headed right past our trailhead where we hoped to continue hiking. She was headed to the Oregon coast to do some camping actually. It was quite the pleasant car ride getting to see Heather again and her dog Banks! Such a blessing to have her help in getting back to the trail! And I feel like Banks and I bonded during our time together!
As we neared our destination, we noticed a low thick cloud covering the horizon. Our first thought was smoke from a wildfire, which got us worried, but it ended up being fog or a cloud kind of thing. After saying thank you and farewell to Heather, we were at it once again, just like that!
Unfortunately, our greeting back to the trail was a long uphill section and we were enveloped in fog. But, we were rested up from our stay in Bend and feeling groovy. The thing I’ve learned about these town visits is that there is a sense of relief/reprieve when getting off trail and going in, but the same feeling when getting back on trail too. It’s nice to not have to stress and think about resupplying or planning ahead, etc… You can just walk, that’s all you have to do at that point.
Leaving the trailhead, we began climbing gradually, winding our way through a burned area. For a while we all stuck together chatting. I believe the main topic of conversation was movies. Specifically, randomly, The Matrix was discussed in detail as well as our thoughts on the newer Star Wars films. Mostly it was TW and I chatting. Movies and the unusual tidbits and facts about them doesn’t seem to be one of Snickers main hobbies. He told us we’d have to give him a crash coarse some time.
Lunch was nice. A good break. Afterwards, we all sort of hiked separately. TW ahead, then me, then Snickers following right behind me. The fog had cleared and we got some views by this point, getting into some higher elevation again. Then, for a long while we were traversing a mountainside with great views out. Just amazing. Imagine walking the flat trail and to your right it’s rocky and goes up steep to some jagged peaks above. To the left, grassy with scattered rocks down to a green valley surrounded by darker green forests and mountains as a backdrop!
Such a cool stretch of trail. It seemed like we’d be hiking a ridge, then the trail would reach a high point and cross over to reveal new sights. It did this a few times.
I also thought it was cool seeing out and viewing the distinct boundary between burned and healthy trees…
During one such occasion when the trail opened up to a new view, I came around the bend to see this big guy looming ahead! Mount Jefferson I believe…
And then this nice one, which had some slanted bands of red rock! I did an out loud gasp of “whoaaaa” when it popped out of nowhere. Three Finger Jack I believe…
The trail went down through more burned forest.
I chatted with a hiker named Bluebird for a while. She’s flipped around the trail a bunch avoiding snow and such. She’s also got a job lined up (lecturing at University of Washington) post trail, so has a September 15 deadline. I enjoy hearing all the different places folks come from and snippets into their stories. Lots of interesting people traveling the trail.
The last part of the day was another big, but gradual climb, which offered up some more spectacular viewing. The weather was changing, with clouds blowing across the ridge above me and then dissipating off to my right. Very cool to watch.
When I reached Rockpile Lake, the surface was enveloped in fog. I met a hiker friend, Butterfly Catcher, and together we walked to the other side and joined others in setting up our tents. TW was already there and set up and Snickers was just a few minutes behind us. It was a busy tent site. I counted 12 tents including us and at least 2 others on the far side of the lake. It was quite pretty though.
The four of us did a little gathering for dinner, but it was cut short by raindrops. We feared it would start downpouring, so headed to our tents. It didn’t get worse actually and only spit a few drops at us. I was whipped, more the sleep tire than body tired though. My legs and feet seemed strong. It always suprises me how much a day of rest can help the body!