Mile 1887 to 1912.

A slight mist hung over Summit Lake as I peaked over my sleeping bag. I laid back and breathed in the damp air. It smelled of moss and dirt. True smells. Natural smells. It filled my soul and the silence filled my ears. The forest was still asleep and the water was like a mirror. This is why I hike. For moments like this.

Slowly I began to stir and get ready. I walked over to the lake for one last look before I started walking. A blood red sun was rising above the lake. It was perfect.

As we made tracks through the forest and left Summit Lake behind, we set our sights on Shelter Cove just 17 miles ahead.

We made good time and were set to make it in for lunch. About 3 miles out, a teenager came walking up the trail. We greeted him, but he stared resolutely at the ground avoiding eye contact and didn’t respond.

When we finally make it to Shelter Cove, we ordered the hiker special, which was ribs, watermelon, macaroni salad, and a roll. As we were eating, a lady walked up and asked us if we saw a teenager with brown hair and a backpack walking around. His parents are looking for him. She told us he is also on the spectrum. It sounds exactly like the guy we passed on the PCT. We tell her everything we remember and his dad leaves to start hiking the trail south. I hope they found him.

Later in the day, Wiz Kid came in and started talking about a 130 mile road walk to get around the fires on the PCT. She is the first person I have heard of considering doing this. Bedazzled and I have already decided to hike to the first closure at Elk Lake, hitch into Bend, and then get transportation to the end of the second closure somewhere near Mt. Hood, probably at Government Camp. For us, hiking on a highway isn’t the same as hiking on the PCT. In fact, it isn’t the PCT. As Pascal, another thru-hiker, said, “if their were PCT markers on the highway, I would hike it, but as long as there aren’t, I won’t.” However, everyone has unique and different goals out here and you have to respect that. For some, it is about maintaining an unbroken, or at least mostly unbroken, set of footsteps from the Mexican border to Canada. It doesn’t matter if it is on the actual PCT or on the side of a 4 lane highway. This is exactly why the phrase “hike your own hike” exists. We are all out here for different reasons and you shouldn’t force your idea of what it means to hike the PCT on anyone else. Because in the end, only you truely care about what you did, not anyone else.

Sadly for Bedazzled and myself, Vipr and Fun Dip were keen on Wiz Kid’s plan to walk the roads and highways to get around the closures. We were happy that they were pursuing their own trail, but sad that it would mean we might not get to see them again after we were finally reunited. We know they will do a great job and preserve. Who knows, we may see them again in Washington. If not on the trail, hopefully off. All the best to them.

Bedazzled and I said goodbye to the sisters and set off around 5:00 to continue hiking. The PCT from Shelter Cove doubles as a Nordic skiing route in winter and about eight miles in we came to a beautifully constructed log shelter. It had a stove for warmth, benches, and a sleeping loft. You could tell the volunteers that maintained it put a lot of love into it.

We set down our packs and pulled out our sleeping bags. We had found our home for the night.

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