PCT DAY 13: Saturday July 8, 2017
Mile 1943.9 – Mile 1965.5 + 2 miles in/out of Elk Lake Resort
23.6 miles (37.8 km)
We had intentions yesterday of making it another 0.7 mile to Dumbbell Lake so that we would be closer to Elk Lake and breakfast. But the attraction of Island Lake and an earlier stop won out. Plus early morning miles are always easier than those at the end of the day. It was a terrific choice. We went past Dumbbell Lake early this morning to find the campsite occupied by other campers with several horses and a mule. Island Lake was quite pretty and we were the only ones camped there.
We made it to Elk Lake Resort just after 8am and found that they did not open for breakfast till 9. The lake itself is absolutely stunning. Sailboats and other non-motorized craft lined the shore. And being on the road and only 30 miles from Bend it is a popular weekend destination. Hammer had talked up their breakfast burritos and we were hoping to get breakfast before rejoining the trail. AT&T signal was available but weak and I manage to upload one blog before breakfast opened.
We were a little dissapointed that breakfast was a buffet as the Resort was hosting a wedding for 150 guests and had no spare staff to take breakfast orders. We settled for a coffee and a cold drink, had our usual camp breakfast of oats and dried fruit and sat outside enjoying the view. Here we met 2 other northbound hikers – Molly and Wild Child with whom we spent a pleasant hour trading PCT stories. Wildchild, like me is back to finish the PCT after getting a foot stress fracture around mile 2000 last year.
From leaving Elk Lake our day just got better and better. We had about 4 miles of uphill hiking to the top of Koosah Mountain (mile1955). From the top we were rewarded with views of the most stunning mountains in front of us.
On the descent we met two south bound section hikers who said they were hiking in snow all the way from Highway 20, which is where we were heading. We had expected snow in this section of the trail but not two full days of snow hiking. And sure enough we soon hit snow which was firm underfoot and the hikers had left reasonably good tracks so we had little navigational difficulty. The trail was not steep so we had no precarious traverses. And the very best bit, there were no mosquitos. It was bliss.
As we descended off the mountain we passed the beautiful and aptly named Sisters Mirror Lake and soon after entered one of the more stunning sections of trail we’ve hiked in a long time. The next 10 miles passed through a geological wonderland with volcanic peaks, laval mesa fields and snow free flower covered meadows with meandering streams through them and snow covered meadows backed by towering peaks. It was simply breathtaking.
We had plans to hike till 8pm but with the amount of snow and no campsites indicated on the maps we started to look for a spot soon after 7. While the sun was still shining we saw a great snow free, flat spot with mountain views on three sides. The tent was up in 10 minutes and with no mosquitos, it was a simple pleasure to sit outside and enjoy the view.