PCT DAY 9: Tuesday July 4th, 2017
Alternate to the PCT
21.6 miles (34.4km)

I was so looking forward to hiking the romantically titled Oregon Skyline Trail. Hammer hiked it last year and had fond memories of lots of lakes along the way and being able to go for a swim.  As the weather has been very hot, the prospect of a refreshing swim was very attractive. The reality of todays hike was somewhat different.
We woke to a horde of hungry mosquitos circling the tent. Without having breakfast or more importantly for me coffee, we quickly broke camp and got going hoping to escape the mozzies. For the next five miles the heat was increasing, we hiked in silence with a constant hum of mosquitos circling our net covered heads. I was oscillating between going insane to being totally  zen with the mosquitos.  Just as I thought I can’t take anymore, there was a sound of gunshot in the distance. Someone else, being driven insane by the sheer number and persistence of these critters, was losing the plot.  The landscape offered little respite, being open forest with little understory.

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Before letting the morning get totally ruined we stopped for breakfast. And as if by magic,  the mosquito numbers decreased to a bearable level. With breakfast and a cold coffee our equilibrium was restored and we hiked on with renewed determination.
We did pass several lakes but the prospect of exposing more skin to the hungry hordes was not that attractive despite the heat.

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We saw quite a few beautifully coloured toads and late in the afternoon two small  yellow and black striped snakes.
With five miles to go to Shelter Cove we passed the gem of the OST, Diamond View Lake. There was a breeze blowing off the lake keeping mosquitos at bay, the water was crystal clear and the lake was backed by the snow covered Diamond Peak. There was a campspot right by the lake and it was very tempting to stay.

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But it was only 3pm and the prospect of town food,  a shower and a cold drink at Shelter Cove was far more enticing.
The last few miles into Shelter Cove was beautiful, passing through lush green forest and the sound of fast flowing Trappers Creek. Very reminescent of some of Northern Californian forests.
We made it to Shelter Cove just before 5pm – a chocolate milk, a Freedom burger and an Independence hotdog later and all was well in our world. We will take a rest day here tomorrow.

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