Friday, September 13, 2019

Day 29. More Lava

Day 29. More Lava
Lava Lake Camp Junction 1982.6 to Big Lake Youth Camp 1995.1
13.5 miles

I love waking up early. The lava is otherworldly in the dark. Shadows from my headlamp play on the rocks. It all seems so magical and wondrous and I just want to savor it.
The first light appears slowly. The birds that chirp at this hour have strange songs. Time passes slowly but also feels limitless and spacious.
I’d been expecting difficult footing, but the trail through the lava is gentle and I love skipping through the rocks. Compared to the lava rocks I used to hike through during my winter season working at El Morro National Monument, when I’d explore nearby El Malpais National Monument, this is a cakewalk. But I wonder what I’d think if I’d done this back in 2014 when I started hiking the PCT.
Dee Wright Observatory is the perfect place to watch sunrise. Built during the Great Depression by the Civilian Conservation Corps, it features little windows that identify peaks like Jefferson, Washington, and the Three Sisters. On top, there is a metal peak finder to identify all the surrounding geological features.
My parents took me here by car many times on family vacations. I remember reading all the signs and trying to memorize the shapes of the mountains so I would be able to identify them later. My parents always knew all the names of the mountains wherever we went. So I understood this to be an important thing to be able to do.
Though out here on the PCT, there have been a few times where I see a new mountain peak when I get up to a pass and ask another hiker coming from the other direction what it is. And they say they have no idea, they just hike and don't bother with the names. And I just shake my head and pull out my maps. There are so many different ways to enjoy this trail. But I need to know the names of the peaks or else I feel completely disoriented.
I meet more SOBO hikers that all warm me about there are more lava rocks ahead. "That's what I’m hear for!" I want to say. Because I love the lava. But I end up just nodding and smiling.
I take the side trail to Big Lake Youth Camp and arrive in late morning. They don't serve lunch until 1 so I have a few hours to take a shower and relax. I see some of the other nobo hikers I haven’t seen for days so it's great to catch up. They are really nice at the camp and I decide to hang around for the night.

1 comment:

  1. Yeah, so...

    I hiked the loop around the Sisters in 2016. Would like to get back, but with the new permitting system going into effect next year, who knows.

    I couldn't get a permit for the Obsidian area. The Forest Service office in Sisters, OR, confirmed that they DO NOT issue permits, even though it's a Forest Service office with nothing going on, except for coffee breaks between naps (I used to work in gummint and know how it goes), and they have phone lines and electricity, and internet and all, so I called the official number from the office's parking lot.

    The person at HQ, wherever that is, said that they could email me a permit which I could then print out (In my car? Sure...), or they could mail one to me. You betcha, 'speshly cuz my hike starts in an hour. Even if I'd tried any of this before heading to Oregon, I wouldn't have had time enough anyway, so I figured I'd just hike and pay a fine if things went that way.

    Got to the start of the Obsidian area, and there was a sign saying, in effect, "No probs, dude." It was OK to hike through as long as you came in on the PCT and stayed within 250 feet of the trail. And that's what I did, happily.

    Camping is different, as is, apparently, parking in one of the day trail lots and then coming in from the side.

    The eastern half of the loop was full of people (and dogs). Nice place as well, but I didn't enjoy the crowds. Or the dogs. Especially the dogs.

    Repeated "lava rocks" warnings? WTF. Where have those people been? It's trail. Nice trail. Glad you liked it. I did.

    Had no idea that there was such a thing as the "Dee Wright Observatory". (Still learning, thx.)