Cowboying at the Mt. Thielsen Trail junction (PCT mi 1859.0), walked 25? miles today
All four of us got moving by six just in case Crater Lake NP was serious about sending rangers out in the morning to levy fines. There was a sunrise across the lake, but it was dulled by smoke, as were pretty much all our views as we walked around it this morning (hence few pictures). We ran into an extremely knowledgeable old man, a walking history book about the lake and Oregon more generally, who is involved with a Crater Lake trust of some kind. He talked to us for about 10 minutes, dropping crazy science the whole time, then we climbed the Watchman, then a few miles later departed the Rim on a beeline north for Highway 138. These were 15 of the easiest miles in PCT history, and we all got to the road around 1:30.
I was in favor of attempting a hitch 5 miles west to South Shore Pizza at Diamond Lake, not just for the pizza but more importantly so I could charge my phone as I consumed the pizza. HB said he'd try with me for 20 minutes and give up and keep hiking if we failed after that. We failed. He went on (with my new huckleberry hat in his backpack, no less) and I continued popping the thumb, because I don't really have much of an option ... If my phone dies, there go a lot of very important things, not least of them the journal entries. About ten minutes later, Floridian heroes Gary and his girlfriend pulled over, almost wrecking their Ford Escort in the process, and offered me a ride. I gormandized on pizza and root beer, got some charging done, and even made a phone call and surfed the interwebs with the 3G connection that existed down there. Around 5, I harangued Andrew and Nikki, a couple from Forks, Washington, in the parking lot and they generously went out of their way to bring me back to the trail. All in all it was an excellent side trip, even though I was doubting it at first when I left a perfectly good group of friends behind and was failing at the hitchhiking.
Six miles up the trail, I came to the redonkulous view of Mt. Thielsen, which I first experienced last year around this time on a day hike that I took on a whim on a day off. Only once I got here did I remember that there was a great bivy spot nearby and that last year I had told myself something along the lines of, "I will camp in this exact place if I ever do the PCT and make it this far." My original goal had been Thielsen Meadow 2.5 miles onward but it was drawing late and this is too good to pass up, not that the meadow is any slouch. Crater Lake Rim followed by Mt. Thielsen--I'm on a hot streak for bivy sites these last two nights. And I have my huckleberry hat back as well, because HB was kind enough to duct tape it to a sign right next to where I'm camped.