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Posts Tagged ‘Lloyd Gust’

After all the beauty of Crater Lake, the PCT through Oregon followed a line of volcanoes and the tall mountains which

Crater Lake

conveniently went in a northward line.  We could see the first one ahead from the rim, Mt. Thielson.  A trend emerged as the PCT methodologically traveled northward; we would climb to a certain point on the westward side of each mountain, just enough to get a few good views, then contour around it until we went steadily down, back into the trees.

Surprisingly, I did not want to walk locked into a green tunnel, despite the exposed and super hot California because Oregon had turned cold and my body had not yet adapted to near freezing temperatures at night yet.

I caught Hop-a-long and Inspector Gadget warming in the sun where a side trail split off to go to the top of Thielson.  None of us were convinced the summit wasn’t technical, but we could only see part of the trail up.  What we could see was mostly scree, which is fine going down, but going up is a bitch and a half.  We opted to continue down the PCT toward Thielson Creek to eat lunch.  My motivation had not yet recuperated from the cold by lunch which had begun to worry me.

Right as we left, the three of us ran into a guy hugging a tree and taking a MySpace photo of himself in a spot that didn’t seem unique to any of us.  As soon as he told his story, we understood.  His name was Scarecrow from Long Island.  He had almost completed his thru-hike last year, in 2011, but the snow slowed him down and he had to miss a chunk of trail from the spot where we found him until Bend, and then from Skykomish, WA to the Canadian border.  He told us about his restless nights and inability to sleep well at night because he hadn’t finished.  He had completed the stretch sobo from Bend to Thielson Creek and was about to head up to Skykomish to finish.

He helped my motivation significantly, not only from his excitement, but because he confidently said we were going to make it to the border and I was getting sick of people asking us if we’d make it since so many other hikers had already gone through.

We passed through a section of trail that had recently opened four days earlier after the Butte Fire damaged the area significantly and crossed the trail for about a quarter mile.

We passed the Oregon/Washington high point afterwards and continued until we camped for the night in a saddle that offered comfortable pine needles to sleep on.  By that time, Hop-a-long was getting seriously worried about itchy bites that were beginning to cover both of her arms, hands and neck.  I gave her some anti-itch cream, but that only goes so far when a person has so many bites.

By late morning, we reached Windigo Pass which offered an alternate trail which would bypass about 9 miles of PCT and rejoin at Willamette Pass near a ski resort.  A note posted at the trailhead gave information for a local trail angel based out of Bend named Lloyd Gust.  Hop-a-long called him and asked if he knew anything about bed bug, chigger, or flea bites since we couldn’t quite determine which ones were biting her.

“Do you have bites in threes?” Lloyd asked her on the phone.

“Yes.”

“They’re bed bugs.  We don’t have many, if any at all, chiggers around here,” he replied.

Seeing an RV park and a road close on the alternate route, she went that way to find a hot shower and laundry to blast the bed bugs out of her clothes and sleeping bag on high heat.  She even found spray rubbing alcohol to add to the bed bug death mix.  Inspector Gadget and I kept going on the main PCT and expected to meet her at Willamette Pass.

The next morning,the temperature went down to about 27 degrees and frost covered our tents.  Trying to simultaneously ignore my alarm and convince myself I needed to get up and hike somewhere, I laid in my sleeping bag staring at the frost above.

THUNK

I bolted into sitting position, still in my sleeping bag thinking a damn bear was right outside my tent.  Then I saw a headlamp.  It was 6am.  Who the hell is walking already packed up at 6am in this cold?

“Who is it?” I asked.

“WHAAAAAA!!!!” the person startled, “oh shit, I didn’t see you guys there!  It’s Splinter.”

“Shit man, it’s Gadget and Veg!” Inspector laughed.

“Hey guys!” Splinter gasped seemingly delirious, “I’ve already done 48 miles! 12 to go until Shelter Cove Resort and I’ll have 60 miles in 24 hours!”

“You’re fucking crazy,” I muttered still waking up.  “Why did you want to do that?”

“I needed to catch up!  And I wanted to see what I could do for a long day.  When I had 30 miles done in the first 12 hours and I wasn’t tired, I figured I’d go for it,” Splinter laughed.

“Dude,” Gadget started, obviously shivering, “come hang out with us at Willamette Pass after you pick up your resupply and eat pizza.”

“It’s only open on the weekends though, it’s Friday,” Splinter said.

“It’s Saturday,” I said.  “It was Friday when you started hiking this crazy mileage.”

We went up near Diamond Peak, contoured around, then headed down through a throng of day hikers who did not seem to understand headphones blasting as a don’t-talk-to-me sign.

“How far up is the lake,” one asked in a whiny voice.

“Which lake?” I asked in return.

“Uhhhh…the lake…” he responded looking confused.

“Dude, I passed at least twenty damn lakes this morning, I don’t know which lake you want,” and I continued on while he looked perplexed.  I had decided not to eat trail lunch since fresh salad, pizza, and beer would be at the ski resort in about four miles.  This, however, increased my annoyance with day hikers who wanted to ask the usual mess of questions.  Sorry, I’m not trying to be a bitch, but I’m starving and there is food that is not in my pack right ahead, probably where you parked your car.

The ski resort was not busy in the slightest, so we took over a table and several outlets to charge all of our electronics while we ate several rounds of food and drank some beer.  Hop-a-long had just gotten there and regaled us about blasting the bed bugs out of her stuff and the bites seeming to stall, or at least not get worse.  Splinter caught up with us and decided just to start drinking instead of taking a nap to not mess up his sleep schedule.  Always a great plan.  He had managed 60 miles in 24 hours and then started drinking beer.  Props.

That evening, we hiked out a few miles to the Madison Ski Hut which was a ski shelter shaped like an octagon for backcountry skiers.  We spent the night reading the register and figuring out how to booby trap our food from the scurrying mice that also inhabited the shelter.

The Oregon Hiker Highway with the super cool moss.

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