INTO MAZAMA VILLAGE
PCT DAY 5: Friday June 30th , 2017
Mile 1796.8 – Mile 1819.2
23.6 miles (37.8km)
Devils Peak was glowing above us as the suns rays illuminated the rockface. It was a great campspot, despite being surrounded by snow, it was quite warm through the night.
We broke camp and were reluctantly back on snow aroud 6.30am. To our surprise , the snow was not icy, even in the shade, and it made for quite easy footing. Trailfinding was not a great problem. As we descend through the forest the only sound we could hear beside the crunch of our feet on snow was the constant hum of swarms of mosquitos. I noticed big cat prints on the trail but Hammer thought they were shoe prints. A bit further along the trail we passed 4 perfect big cat paw prints in the snow. Not sure what animal left these. The only wildlife we’ve seen were toads and a couple of squirrels.
It was wonderful to see the early spring growth in the forest. The snow must have receded here only recently.
The green of the forest soon gave way to a burn section which was exposed to the heat of the morning sun. Barren, it made for a pretty unispiring hiking. By lunchtime we were back in the green forest filled with sweet berry smell released by the heat of the day. Still plenty of snow to navigate through as we ascended west of the Goose Egg (Mile 1808).
From here it was a very long afternoon hiking through snow with no trail visible for hours. We were in reasonably good spirits not having much trouble keeping on trail. The snow was at least 12foot deep in parts. Before crossing the park bounday we had terrific views of what we thought was Mt Thielsen.
As we entered Crater Lake NP the snow deepened and we thought we would be through without too much trouble. Trailfinding got a bit more tricky as the forest was quite dense with deep snowbanks and fallen trees. Within half an hour we met up with 2 search and rescue guys looking for an injured PCT hiker. We’d not seen anybody for almost 2 days.
After we parted company with them staying on trail got a whole lot more difficult. I had two post-holes, both with my right leg stuck. I started getting worried about re-injuring my ankle. The mosquitos were trying to bite our eyeballs. Hammer stopped speaking. I started having black thoughts about leaving the trail. I felt like I had enough snow hiking last year to last me a lifetime. We were not having a good time. It was late afternoon and we were tired. We were on snow in deep forest and normally would have stopped to camp before running out of reserves. But we had no food left and had to get to Mazama. I seriously contemplated not going back on trail. But one of the bits of advice I’ve been given is that you never give up on a bad day. We moved on in silence finally reaching Mazama Village at 8pm. It was a long hard day. It took us almost 4 hours to cover the 7miles inside Crater Lake NP.