Hello from Bend! Since leaving Ashland we have hiked around 300 miles and seen some amazing parts of Oregon. The trail alternates between wandering through thick, flat and viewless forests and epic scenery- making all of the walking in the trees so worth it. We left Ashland and did an easy ten miles out and only saw one other hiker. The next day we ate lunch with five other thru hikers and continued to run into more throughout the day. The trail can be so empty and we can go days at a time only crossing paths with one or two other thru hikers and then all of a sudden you can find yourself stopped on the side of the trail with tons of other hikers.
Leaving Ashland we walked through thick forests for miles and miles, and we were still in the smoke from the fires burning in Oregon. The night before going into Crater Lake we woke up to flashing lightning in the middle of the night and distant rumbles of thunder. We lay awake listening to the store move in until Hermes jumped up and quickly got the rain fly on our tent. Moments later it was pouring- it was our first real thunderstorm! The next morning it rained off and on all the way into Crater Lake and we were in low spirits thinking the view would be covered in clouds.
When we arrived at Crater Lake we got lunch at Mazama Village- about a 2 1/2 mile hike below the rim. We had an amazing lunch in the cafe with “Trackmeat” and “Olei” before heading over to the store to get our mail drop. Not only did we have the mail drop we sent ourselves, we had TWO care packages! Meg Humphrey sent us a surprise package from Vermont full of delicious treats and we got to ditch some of our less delicious trail mix we had sent ourselves! Gingersnap also sent us a huge care package including a homemade dehydrated vegan dinner and chocolate peanut butter balls…so good! We don’t know how we are ever going to pay back all of the karma and kindness we have received on this trip. Finally, it was time to venture out into the rain and hike up to the Crater Lake Rim.
By the time we reached the top of the rim the clouds had cleared off and the smoke had blown away- we had perfect views of Crater Lake! We walked around not caring about how many miles we got done that day and felt like tourists! It was so fun. Later that evening we hiked out along the rim and managed to find a stealth camp spot with a view of the lake. I felt so so lucky to be there and to have the experience of looking out over the lake as I went to sleep.
The next morning we woke up at the crack of dawn, packed up and got hiking. We knew we had some flat and easy walking ahead of us and wanted to put in a big day. We also had a 27 mile waterless stretch after Crater Lake so we knew our packs would be heavy with water. About 9 miles into the hike I got my second bee sting of the trip. This one stung me right behind my ear and hurt a lot! We kept on hiking until a few minutes later I stopped because I was itchy..then I got really itchy. My feet started itching SO MUCH and I ripped off my shoes..as I looked down at my feet I could see them turning red and starting to swell. We decided to keep walking, because really, what else can you do? Soon I had to loosen my shoes and tape my feet because they had swelled so much I could barely keep them on. Then I realized my legs, arms, back and chest (really my entire body!) was covered in red itchy hives. This is when both Luke and I started to get nervous. Unfortunately, we weren’t carrying any benadryl but we were only 7 miles from a road- so we kept on walking. By the time we reached the road the swelling had started to go down and we met two people who had an entire bee sting kit! I From now on, we are packing benadryl and an epi pen!
After the bee sting incident, we realized we weren’t going to quite make as many miles as we hoped that day. However, we would be hiking by Mount Theilsen that afternoon! Hermes decided to climb Mount Theilsen- a 1 1/2 mile trail that gains 1700 feet of elevation with a pitch of class 4/5 climbing at the top. I decided to go on to camp and rest up. Luke had a great time doing this short and steep side trial practically running up and down the whole thing.
The next day we got another early start and rapidly passed the high point of Oregon and Washington. We had a 25 mile day planned and we would also be taking an alternate route into Shelter Cove. We arrived at the alternate around 5pm and decided to push another 10 miles to make it to a campground on Crescent Lake- it had running water and toilets! The next thing we knew we were pushing 4+ mph while hiking (our normal speed is around 3) and we made it into Crescent Lake before dinner time. We weren’t totally sure we were in the correct camp ground- we had been aiming for the free campground but somehow found ourselves in a national park campground. We asked two women if we were in the right place, and the next thing we knew we were being led over to their huge family reunion where they fed us so much tasty and fresh food! Again we were overwhelmed by the kindness and generosity of strangers on the trail. A star filled night and camping on the beach with other hikers after amazing trail magic helped make our 32 mile day so worth it!
We slept in at Crescent Lake and we were treated to hot coffee from a french press from “Craw Daddy”- such a luxury! We normally drink cold instant coffee in the mornings, so this was really a treat. After the coffee we hopped back on trail for an easy 11 miles in Shelter Cove. In Shelter Cove we received trail magic that was so above and beyond anything else! Heidi- thank you so much! Heidi and her family had emailed us a few weeks back letting us know they’d be at Shelter Cove and that they would have food, showers and other trail magic for us. We were met with cold ginger kombucha, cotton clothes and hot showers. This was topped off by a huge dinner and the offer to stay in their cabin. We had such a fun time meeting Heidi and Oiden and their two sweet kids. Heidi welcomed in other hikers to shower and eat and her generosity just didn’t stop. Thank you so so much Heidi!!!
After Shelter Cove we hiked to Bend in 3 1/2 days. We hiked through lots of trees before getting to the Sisters Wilderness where we were treated to views of all three of the sisters, Mount Washington and other volcanic formations along the way. Central Oregon is full of giant volcanoes, dominating the skyline. The three sisters area seems to be a popular backpacking area in the summer- we ran in to dozens of weekend backpackers. We also hiked many more miles than we expected through desolate lava flows. RIght after the lava flows we hit the 2,000 mile mark!! We have less than 660 miles left to go!
We finally made it out to Santiam Pass where we were rapidly picked up by a guy heading into Bend. He dropped us off at the Three Creek Brewery where we got beers and snacks while we waited for our friend Malachi to pick us up. When we went to pay, we found out the couple seated next to us had picked up our tab! Again- I can NOT believe the kindness and generosity of strangers. We are now hanging out in Bend for a zero day and will get back to the trail tomorrow afternoon just in time to spend my birthday out on the trail ! Check out the rest of our photos below!