Oregon deja vu

by Gillian Larson | posted: August 6, 2016
Heading south toward Mt. McLoughlin

My mom and I spent the morning of August 2nd organizing supplies and preparing the rigs, and then I loaded Shyla into Tuna Can and headed for Oregon, while Mom went back to Topanga with Takoda. By finishing this Sierra section of the PCT, I had now "connected the dots" between all my various rides to make for a completion of the trail all the way from the beginning at the Mexican border to Highway 140 in Oregon between Medford and Klamath Falls. So now I was going to Diamond Lake, just north of Crater Lake, to begin riding back south to Highway 140 from there. The pack station at Diamond Lake corrals would make a good base camp where Shyla could rest for a couple of days, and then I would leave my truck and trailer there and be picked up at the highway when my mother drove back north in a few days.

But when I got to Diamond Lake, I also learned that the PCT through Crater Lake was closed due to a fire, so that added some complications to my plans. Since Shyla had just finished a couple hundred tough miles of trail, and then spend many hours in a long trailer ride from Sonora to Diamond Lake the next day, I was happy to give her a couple days off. I stayed at the resort on the lake and took advantage of the opportunity to do some laundry, and I also drove up to Shelter Cove on Odell Lake to cache some food for a later ride (they weren't really happy to take the horse feed, even though they regularly hold resupply packages for hikers, and I had to practically beg them to do so). Then the fire situation at Crater Lake got even worse, and the suggested alternate was also closed, so I had no choice but to change my plans a little and delay one day more. Finally, today I drove to the south entrance to Crater Lake, where there is a trailhead as the PCT crosses the highway nearby, and I parked Tuna Can there and began riding south. We were heading into the Sky Lakes Wilderness, where in 2014 I had a mini-disaster when I was blocked by snow and had to turn around, only to have my headlamp battery fail. I had no choice but to camp out overnight on the trail, but I hadn't planned on doing this (I was supposed to meet my mom at a trailhead along the way) and so I didn't have food or water for either Shyla or me, nor did I have a tent or any shelter. Temperatures dropped into the 20's overnight, and I huddled under Shyla's saddle blanket and even put her leg wraps around my legs in an attempt to stay warm. We got through the night, but not without alarming my mother, who was very worried when we didn't show up. We finally made it out okay later the next day, but I definitely had a little apprehension heading back into this part of the PCT again. There was no snow, however, and although there were lots of downed trees we managed to get through to our camping spot at Snow Lakes, not too far from Devil's Peak where I had been turned around in 2014. It wasn't a very good campsite, with no grass at all for Shyla, but at least we were prepared for a night on the trail this time around.


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