Well, I was right. I took my time leaving Big Lake Youth Camp, having some ramen for breakfast. Breakfast of champions.
This was the section of lava rocks. It made for some really tough hiking because that terrain isn't kind on your feet. Most thru-hikers wear trail runners because they're light, dry faster, and are breathable. They're also flexible, which means they're not stiff enough to give the bottom of your feet much protection from rough terrain.
I did not love these lava rocks
It was also hot as hell, and exposed too. Any water source was extremely welcomed, and I became very good at cameling up -- drinking as much water as I could comfortably down whenever I reached a good water source.
Shade + water = happy me
Because it was so exposed, I got some great views. It was a little hazy outside, but luckily I hadn't heard any news about wildfires getting close to the PCT. The Three Sisters wilderness was really pretty, and I was seeing the Sisters get closer.
The Three Sisters Wilderness
As I got close to camp, I thought about how much I missed having someone to talk to and hang out with at camp, and how nice it would be to camp with someone that night. When I got to the campsite, I realized it was a really big one, and there was a family that had set up on one side of the trail. I headed to the other side of the trail, where there was one tent a little bit in the trees. I walked toward it to camp a few trees away.
We were lucky the haze didn't mean nearby fires
As I got closer, I heard a shuffle from inside the tent and someone say, "Is that Tiffany?" It was Blue! Although we hadn't spent a lot of time together, we had seen each other several times since meeting for the first time in Stehekin (I actually ran into him at the Seattle REI on one of my trips back to Seattle in central Washington).
Turns out he had planned to hike further that day, but ended up feeling lazy and set up camp early. Worked out for me, since now I had a camping buddy. He told me of his plans to wake up early the next day to pull a 40-miler, so I figured this would probably be the last time I saw him. The next morning when I woke up, he was already gone.
The moon was shining so bright, I didn't even need a headlamp at camp
I came across a nice lake the next day. The days were getting to be very hot, and Oregon was much more exposed than I had expected it would be, so I was sweating my butt off all the time. I ended up sitting at the lake for about an hour, even though I only planned to stop for a few minutes. It was here that I was checked for my permit by a ranger for the first time. I felt very official, pulling out my permit and letting the ranger make sure I was kosher.
A great place to take an extended break
I found a quiet campsite that night far away a few hundred yards from the trail, with a lovely view of a large lake in the distance. Although I was pulling larger miles now, I was still able to get to camp a few hours before the sun set because the days were so long, and I was grateful to spend some time at camp lying down, because my pack was really starting to weigh on my back (no pun intended).
The flat terrain did make it easier to pull bigger miles
It was (kind of) town day the next day -- I was going to stop into Shelter Cove Resort a little bit off the trail to pick up a package. There wasn't much to do there but it was one of the only places to resupply between Big Lake Youth Camp and Crater Lake.