Tenting along the Oregon Skyline Trail (OST mi 2.3, left PCT at mi 1884.0), walked 27.4 trail miles today
Woke up without even an alarm around 6:15 and was out before seven. My stomach and I were engaged in a pitched battle all morning--I sending it food, it sending me volleys of belches and acid reflux--and at length I was victorious, meaning by lunchtime I could eat in total peace. The morning was cool and sunny and gentle ... There was a barely perceptible climb that nonetheless took me up to the high point of the official PCT for both Oregon and Washington. Talked to a section hiker named Sam, and Ian't Nothin' Wrong With That (actual spelling) passed me, but otherwise I saw no one.
That changed when I walked nearly a mile off trail to Maidu Lake to get water and ran into a Boy Scout troop whose leaders were way into asking questions about my hike. It was typical Boy Scout theater--loud, huge packs, low mileage, 14-year-olds smashing big sticks against trees for no reason--and I had "Be Prepared" by Tom Lehrer stuck in my head for the rest of the day. After returning to the PCT from that lake (it was enthusiastically recommended in Yogi's guide, I don't know why), ran into a thru-hiker named Cinco and she and I walked and talked for cinco miles, más o menos. She told me about a section hiker she'd just met named Paul who had a massive backpack and made ursine grunting noises as he walked ... Sure enough, I was taking a break later when I literally thought I was hearing a bear come down the path, but instead it was just Paul. In addition to grunting, Paul SHOUTS when he talks, and if that habit bothered me before I started spending months in the woods alone, it really annoys me now, so I ditched him and let him toil on at 1mph.
Continued alone after that, and around 6:30 I came to the junction with the Oregon Skyline Trail, which goes to the same place as the official PCT (Shelter Cove / Willamette Pass) but does so in 10 fewer miles, at 1000 feet lower elevation, and passes more water in the process. So I'm taking that and feeling pretty damn good about it, because sometimes the PCT is routed so indirectly and inconveniently, thanks to its insistence on staying on high ridges, that it feels good to skip out on it. Tomorrow I'll hit my old stomping grounds at Willamette Pass, but they won't be open. Hopefully I'll catch up to some others and maybe camp at the Rosary Lakes or Maiden Peak Hut.