Thursday, October 6, 2016

Day 34- Ollalie Lake

Oregon PCT Section F

2052 (Trooper Spring) to 2040 (Upper Lake) and back and forth to 2043 (Ollalie Lake)

Pathfinder's bee sting from yesterday swells up to size of a salad plate. No, it's more like a Frisbee, all red and raised, the swelling creating pressure against her knee. Making it hard to hike. So we hike slow. 
Showing off the huge red welt above her knee, Pathfinder is still upbeat no matter what.
"How's your breathing?" I ask. "OK." replies Pathfinder. "Did your other bee sting swell this much?"

"Umm, no."

We ponder what this might mean, as the day wears on.

There is time to look around as I stroll down the trail behind Pathfinder. Changing colors are bright. The reds of the maples stand out against the contrasting grey rocks of the large boulder fields. 
Boulder fields.
We take long rest breaks when Pathfinder says her knee starts bothering her more.
Powerline cuts become destinations. They have sun. And sun means warmth.
 "Is your breathing still OK, Pathfinder?"

I hope I'm not being overly annoying. But Pathfinder is not strolling but struggling. Trying not to limp. Why is the allergic reaction so bad? She says she's never had a sting get this swollen before. Will this allergic reaction progress in more unexpected ways? 

It is obvious we need to get her out of the backcountry and checked out by doctor. Luckily, we are nearing a road crossing.

Ollalie Lake Resort has no phone or internet. But they do have a number for a shuttle service. Pathfinder and I stand (sit and then lay) by the road for an hour seeing if we can hitch out. Its a dirt road very very far out. No traffice at all. Finally Pathfinder uses her Inreach to call her mom who contacts the shuttle service who can come in 2-3 hours to pick her up and take her to a town with an urgent care center. Phew!
Waiting. Photo by Pathfinder
I don't know what I should do. I've always gone off the trail with my hiking buddies who got injured or sick. It's what I do-- stay with them all the way back. But after hiking so slow and feeling like this entire trip hasn't gotten me far, I really want to keep hiking on. 

Pathfinder assures me she's fine going to town without me. The shuttle driver will get her there. So I set out on the PCT towards Santiam Pass- the plan is that Slowbro, who I met back in 2014 at Kennedy Meadows, will meet me there and I'm sure he will help me reconnect with Pathfinder.

Immediately I have that dreadful feeling I'm making a mistake. That I should have waited with Pathfinder until the shuttle arrived. I keep hiking hoping the feeling will go away. She said she was fine, I remind myself. I get a few miles out. What if the shuttle doesn't come? What if Pathfinder gets worse...? So I turn around and hike back, practically running down the trail until I am back and find here. Of course she is fine. The shuttle arrives but again I hesitate. Should I go or hike on? I don't know. She assures me she'll be OK. 

I hike out again. Past the lakes again, past the same views again. The light is fading. I set up my hammock in the dark in a site I'd scoped out earlier.

I wake up to strange sound on the tarp, softer than rain. It is snow. Lightly falling snow. I shine my headlamp out and it sparkles. 

How much will fall? What will it look like in the morning? What will happen?

There is nothing I can think to do, at 2 AM. So I tuck myself back into my quilts.  At least I am warm. I listen to the soft patter of the snow until I finally fall back asleep.


  1. Wait a sec. Is this not the fourth hiking partner with an ailment taken out from the trail?? ;-) Beginning to see a pattern there.

  2. I was hoping no one would notice that! But I havent lost anyone- and they've all recovered! Really its not me just... um... coincidence. No need to fear hiking with me at all.

  3. This truly had not been your season, at least bit to find a rhythm. Wonder what your life lesson was to be? Hope it wasn't to solo more as I love our time together.