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[pct-l] Re: Big Lake, Oregon...


I'm sitting here at work after 10PM on a Tuesday night.  I was wandering
through e-mails and ran across the following.....

I found myself  remembering the hike through Jefferson Park up over the
ridge next to Park Butte, down the snowfields to a completely empty
campground on Breitenbush Lake.  And then I tried to remember the days
before.  I pulled up topozone.com and reoriented myself in important

I'd spent the previous night on the shoulder of Three Fingered Jack,
burned and fried from a long day of unexpected adventure.  That morning
I'd left my camp at the foot of Mt. Washington really early to lightfoot
it to Big Lake Camp and a resupply.  I was walking along a sandy, four
foot wide trail in the 40' pines - 90% of Oregon's PCT is viewless -
when I heard faint church bells off in the distance.  This was pretty

The more I walked the louder they got.  I remembered that this was a
"church" camp, and the bells made sense.  I strode through the parking
lot into the camp proper about 8AM.  There were clean cut white kids
scurrying about, the older ones looking responsible, the younger ones
trying to hold in their natural playfulness.  The bells were being
broadcast by speakers set up around the camp.  Everyone looked like they
had purpose.

Well I did too, and I found the main lodge, which was locked and no one
was around.  It turns out it was a sunday or saturday - one of those
days that some religions say you have to do things differently on.  I
stopped a young man who stood respectfully at attention as I said what I
was after.  He said they didn't do business on sunday/saturday -
whatever it was, but he would see if someone had a key.

He left and ten minutes later a beautiful young woman breezed up with a
key and led me to a hallway in the back of the building where there were
20 or so hiker's food boxes piled up.  I looked for mine and couldn't
find it.  It wasn't there.  I called the mailbox place I sent it from -
UPS - and the guy said the box had been delivered.

As my panic rose the teens stood there politely waiting for me to
leave.  I realized that they couldn't do anything and I left, heading
toward the highway three miles away.  I imagined a couple of the younger
kids pirating my box and eating the gorp, throwing the pasta and
dehydrated soups away.  Not a satisfying picture.  I let all the anger
and emotion out through my feet, pounding the sandy trail, and decided I
had to hitch to Sisters to get food.

I got to Hwy 126, put my thumb out, and got a ride in a pick up filled
with small Latino children almost immediately.  We smiled at each other
for a half hour as we couldn't talk in the bed of the pickup.  Luckily,
at the west edge of town was a new supermarket.  I jumped out, strode
into the store and spent 50 bucks on six days food.  I was glad to be
able to get what I needed, and royally pissed I had to spend the money.
I've sworn off religion ever since.

I spent a half hour shopping and took a half hour to repack my pack,
drinking mountain dews and eating doritos.  I started hitching and got
another ride almost immediately.  This was an RV, of all things, and the
older couple were curious about what I was doing.  When they found out
I'd started hiking at the california/oregon border, they shut down.
They couldn't imagine walking that far.  As a section hiker, I have a
hard time imagine completing the trail in one season.  So I understood.

It wasn't much past noon that I got back to the summit and hiked around
the backside of Three Fingered Jack.  Camp that night was on the outside
of a switchback in the trees.  I remember cresting the ridge and there,
to the right, was the mountain itself, with its little lake and awesome,
stark presence.  It was windy and cold, but I was energized.  I sped
down the mountain until I realized I was burned.  Hence the waterless
camp in the viewless trees.

The next day was hot again, hot and dry.  I walked to Pamelia Lake where
I spent the afternoon and night.  A young couple set up camp across the
way and they must have been newly in love or horny.  I spent the
afternoon sunning, swimming and washing clothes, and listening to them
chortle and then moan, and then reach pitches of ecstacy, and then laugh
again.  It made my solo hike seem a bit thin, a bit empty, a bit hard
and emotional.  My heart hurt.

The next day I strolled through Jefferson Park.  It was crowded, and no
matter where I stopped, there were weekenders wandering around,
marvelling as I was marvelling.  I spent a couple hours blown away by
the pristine beauty of the meadows, creeks and small lakes.  I strolled
to the edge of the Park and crossed a stream that had the oddest bed.
It was as if it were carving a new one.  There was no bank.

The hike up to Park Butte Ridge was a killer.  It was beautiful, but a
killer.  For some reason I had no energy and was struggling with every
footstep.  I kept stopping and looking back at the mountain.  This was
not going to be a day for miles.  But that was ok.  It wasn't often that
Oregon offered itself up for this kind of viewing...

The hike down was over a snowfield that went on and on.  Nothing like
postholing going down to generate worry about cracked bones and blown
knees...  But the snow went away and then came Breitenbush lake, a
campground with 30 campsites, and no people.  I lay down on a picknik
table and enjoyed the flat surface.  The lake is fairly shallow and
filled with grass, so there were lots of mosquitos.  My deet level was
high enough that they no longer really bothered me.  I'd put it on at
first break, lunch, mid-afternoon break, and again in camp.  Day after
day.  But they were thick and the noise got to me.  I put up the tent
and crawled into it, another day down, another 100 pages of novel to
read, another night to sleep through...

Jeffrey Olson
Laramie Wyoming...