PCT Day 91: Sisters

July 21

Mile 1957.7-1981.2 (23.5)

The full moon lit up the whole meadow and all the mountains last night. At 2am I heard some loud night hikers go by and was tempted to pack up and hike out myself. But instead I went back to sleep.

Deer scattered when I rustled in my sleeping bag this morning. I ate my morning bar and made instant coffee. I started down the trail at 7am. I wondered if I could make it to the road by 2pm. I was hiking fast. The flat trail cut through meadow after meadow in the shadow of South Sister. There were lots of other hikers on the trail, no one I’ve met before, and I wondered if it was the weekend.

I passed near Obsesian Falls, where the trail was covered in flakes of the shining black stone. I kept stopping to pick them up, feel them in my hand, admire them. 

The trail changed shape quickly and led me up a few steep climbs. Soon I was on Mars, puffed volcanic rock underfoot, everything shaded black and red and only the white skeletons of dead trees clinging to the hillside. It was slow going. I passed two older hikers who looked really unhappy.

I came back to my beloved piney forest for the long and gradual descent to McKenzie Pass. I bounded along, not stopping, listening to music.

Before the highway, I had a mile of volcanic rubble to traverse. My trekking pole got stuck a few times, and it’s rough on the feet, but I didn’t mind. My feet already ache, they always ache. I still felt pretty stunned by the dramatic change in landscape. Like I just walked into another world.

I reached the road at 2pm feeling good. There were a couple of guys there and we talked for about 10 seconds before I saw a car and stuck a thumb out. I caught a ride, but they stopped at the observatory a short ways up the road and I got out and let hitching.

A yellow VW bug pulled over and drove me all the way into Sisters. I chatted happily the whole way, talking about the trail and the gear and hiking solo and all the other usual subjects. When I got dropped off, I walked the short distance to Pat’s apartment.

He has air conditioning! It was hot today and I was so glad to relax into the artificial air. I dried my damp tent, ground cloth, and sleeping bag outside in the hot sun. I had ambitions to bike to the grocery store but was so tired. I ate weird things instead, like sardines on lettuce. And ice cream and fruit and leftovers.

Pat got off work at 6pm. His crew just finished raising the frame they have been working so hard on. Everyone seemed glad the job was done, happy with how it went. Pat and I went next door to shower and then to the grocery store for provisions.


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