Hike Distance: 7.1 miles Yearly Hike Distance: 991.2 miles
Elevation Gain: 1387 feet Yearly Elevation Gain: 130095 feet
Today was a significant milestone for me and we planned on going to a special place to achieve that. Today I crossed over half the diameter of the Earth, in distance, on my journey to reach 25,000 miles!!!! 🙂 The circumference of the Earth around the equator is 24,901.55 miles, and therefore half is 12,450.8 miles. Today the hike ended with me reaching a total of 12,456.3 miles. And to think, it only took 10 years, 1 month and 7 days to complete! During that time we went on 1657 hikes and my total elevation gain was 1,915,703 feet. I do hate to think about how much time was spent driving to/from the hikes and the cost of gas to get there.
The hike was interesting in many ways. The number of visitors in the park appeared overwhelming and we didn’t expect to easily find a parking space on the rim. Luck was with us as we turned into the parking area and a car was just pulling out! 🙂 We also noticed the significant haze around the park on our drive there. It turns out there was a fire near Lake Billy Chinook, in Central Oregon, and the entire region was blanketed in haze. Unfortunately, it slightly cut down on visibility and affected all the pictures. The haze started to clear later in the day, which was nice.
We started the hike by walking along the rim toward the lodge, and the crowds were huge. Truthfully, we were walking around such that we would be away from the crowds when I reached the milestone, and we would have a view at that point. Once we started walking away from the lodge the crowds thinned and almost went away. We reached the milestone with a narrow view of Crater Lake, and Wizard Island was right below us! We stopped and took pictures and filled our stomach with fluid and food. During that time we met a nice older couple and talked with them for almost 45 minutes. A very lovely couple and it was refreshing to talk with like minded people. 🙂
Instead of continuing clockwise around the rim, toward more people at the parking area, we turned around and headed down the PCT toward Mazama Village. The beauty of descending down the crater was that we lost most of the tourists and had almost complete solitude. We did meet two small groups, that were backpacking, and talked with them a while. The descent was initially steep but it became less so the further we went. It was so beautiful, and there was even some snow along the way. The only real issue was that the mosquitoes were in full force, but our insect shield clothing and Picardin insect repellent protected us from getting any bites.
It was getting late and we turned around before reaching the Mazama Village. The ascent was easy for my wife but for some reason I was getting winded? Our elevation was close to 8000 feet and so maybe that was the issue? I’m sure my very heavy pack had something to do with it though.
Once we got back to the rim we took a quick last look at Crater Lake and then headed to our car. We got in the car and drove to the Annie Creek restaurant, which is in the Mazama Village. It was so nice to be there again and I was looking forward to their fine pizza! I went to the washroom and when I got back my wife gave me the bad news that they no longer served pizza! 😦 Evidently, the brick oven broke and Xanterra decided not to repair it. The server convinced me to try the vegetarian burger and I was surprised at how tasty it was! We ended the meal with a celebratory slice of cheesecake, with fresh blueberries on top.
The icing on the cake for today was exiting the restaurant and meeting a PCT thru-hiker that was sitting on one of the rocking chairs! The trail name of this thru-hiker was “Shuttle”, and she had flipped past the Sierra Nevada mountains, in California, due to all the snow. She told us she had already hiked about 1300 miles, or about half the total distance of the total PCT. Such a nice person and we wished her a safe and enjoyable journey. This was such an awesome way to end this special day. 🙂