Day 109: Wednesday, August 21

Tenting at South Matthieu Lake (PCT mi 1985.4), walked 21.5 miles today

Broke camp around 7:15 again and walked about the first 11 miles straight without taking a break. Not very long after getting started, the trail left the green piney tunnel and jumped out into the more open and very easy-on-the-eye Three Sisters volcanic plain. We were treated to many, many views of the Sisters all day, hence the probably high number of photos at the bottom of this entry. Started south of the South Sister and finished the day north of the North, with at least one of them always in view, including now at the campsite. The lava flows that we walked through in the mid-afternoon around Collier Cone were nuts--nothing like anywhere else on the trail or anywhere I've ever been in my life.

Today's big event came just as I was looking for a break spot after those first 11 miles ... I rounded a bend and almost tripped over my friend Jenna from back in Eugene, and her fellow ornithologist friend Scott. Jenna is an enthusiastic follower of this blog, as evidenced by her comment from day 81 about my ringtail cat sighting, but she swears she wasn't stalking me or anything by being in just the exact spot on the PCT that I happened to be on some idle Tuesday in August, and heading northbound to boot. I naturally didn't believe a word of it, but I played along anyway and the three of us ended up hiking together the rest of the day. This included several sudden, excited stops having to do with bird calls, sightings or near-sightings, which I enjoyed because I usually don't have much of an idea what I'm seeing or hearing regarding our feathered friends. Cool fact: approximately 99% of birds are Clark's nutcrackers or stellar jays.

It turns out that these people, Jenna and Scott, have a car waiting for them at the end of their three-day loop. So, being a thru-hiker/parasite for whom no one is worth a second of my time if they can't provide me with something I want, I decided to hang out with them not just for a few miles, but for the rest of the day and part of tomorrow as well. We're going to depart the PCT straight away tomorrow morning and walk seven miles to their trailhead, then head to Bend for a dip into the REI (my wind jacket's zipper has recently become an ex-zipper) and possibly a brewpub or two, then they'll drop me off in the town of Sisters and I'll shop and then do my best to hitch back to McKenzie Pass in the afternoon and keep hiking (experienced readers of this blog should be laughing right now at the specificity of those plans).

After we set up camp, Jenna mentioned that, tragically, she was overburdened with food and fuel for her final day and that I was welcome to some of it. Not normally being a stove user, I was like ehrmagerd hot food and I cooked up some great hot Idahoans for a change and threw in bits of her surplus sausage and cheese. It was so good that it has me thinking a stove may be a worthwhile investment for this final month, when I am almost guaranteed a chilly evening every day. In the summer I can't be bothered to give a shit about cooking but now I must brace myself--winter is coming.