Mile: 1784.3 to 1803.3 (19.0 plus 4 or so extra miles on side trail)
up/down: 3000/3000 feet
Off we go into the viewless forest with zillions of down trees. This is fun. We come to a short section with hundreds of bleached white dead trees.
Kingbird: "I wonder what killed these?"
Hummingbird: "They died of boredom"
After a few miles we come to the Sky Lakes Trail. If we take this we reconnect with our trail about 6 PCT miles ahead but will need 10 or so hiking miles to do it. What the hell, something different and we need an adventure. Down we go into the lakes basin still crawling over many down trees. But there are many lakes, some prettier than others and it adds something to our hiking that's been missing for a few days.
Eventually we climb out of the basin on some steep switchbacks and onto a shale ridge with great views. Now we're having an adventure! At the top we can see out to the east all the way to Klamath Lake. Once back on the PCT we continue to climb the shale mountain to a high ridge. As we crest we get our first views of the Crater Lake area and many mountains nearby, the spiky cone of Mt. Thielsen in the center.
We continue over the ridge and descend toward a lakes basin we will never reach but finally pass a few seasonal streams. Water has been tough to come by on the trail lately and we're entering the toughest section in Oregon, rivaling some of the desert waterless sections.
At Honeymoon Creek we load up as our next water is at Mazama Village some 20 miles away. We'll be dry camping tonight as we need to get closer and be in the village early afternoon. We will have work to do tomorrow after as we set up for an even longer waterless stretch. But that is for tomorrow. Tonight we're camped in a forest of ancient Mountain Hemlocks and a small flock of Gray Jays just passed by.
And, 1800 today!