July 19, 2022. 18.5 miles. 2370’ gain. 1811’ loss.
South Brown Mt Shelter (mile 1763.4) , 5332’ to Squaw Lake (mile 1781.8) ~ 6650’
Our day started hiking through a deep forest and the trail was quite level for a ways. What was really interesting about this section of trail was the appearance of volcanic terrain. Soon, we came out onto slopes with expanses of jumbled basaltic boulders. The trail itself was really cool because it was constructed right through the boulder fields and leveled with crushed red pumice. To me, it’s amazing how the trail-makers were able to get this trail through this terrain. An extraordinary accomplishment! It was early in the morning and the sun slanting through the trees made a beautiful sight. We did come around one curve of the trail and out popped Mt McGloughlin, the first of the significant Oregon volcanoes.
After that part of the trip today, we crossed Oregon Hwy 140 to a trailhead with a large creek nearby where we replenished our water supply for the upcoming climb over a shoulder of Mt McGloughlin. We also chatted with a thru-hiker named Metrick. Sold a company a few years ago. Sold everything and became an international. Hikes the world and lives from place to place. What a concept! Not for me though.
Started the hot, dry slog up the 1400’ to the crest of the ridge east of Mt McGloughlin. Didn’t take as long as we thought, and we were pretty comfortable getting it done. There was a slight error in our route-finding. I thought we had topped out and headed down the steeper trail. Elaine called a stop and told me to check the navigation app. Sure enough, we were off route and had to reverse course a couple hundred yards and about 100 feet back up. Disaster averted!
The app we use is called FarOut (formerly Guthooks Guides) and is installed on our phones. It uses GPS to position us on a map that has the trail inscribed along with various landmarks along the way. It also gives direction, distances from and to trail waypoints, elevations, information about each waypoint, and provides a way for users to post comments related to the waypoints. Users buy large sections or whole trails to download to their phones. The Pacific Crest Trail can be purchased in 4 sections for about $20 per section or $69 for all four sections at once. FarOut has digital guides for hundreds of trail systems all over the world.
As we came to the final, hump before heading down to flatter terrain, I glanced over to a large log next to the trail about 20 feet away. On top of it, lying on their sides were, two aluminum cans. Both were the same color and size. We both thought, “someone has left their empty beer cans here”, but no. I went over to the cans and found that they were two 16oz full cans of Coors Beer! We looked around everywhere, and saw no one. This was the work of a Trail Angel! And we swiftly put the two cans in our packs. Immediately, we started to plan for how we could cool these cans of beer. Since our camp would be at a lake, we would at least get them into the water and cool as much as we could.
Four miles later, we turned off to Squaw Lake to make camp. This was a large campsite right beside the broad lake. There were quite a few mosquitoes but what was prominent were all the dragonflies. They were everywhere! And since they eat mosquitoes, we really enjoyed the presence of the dragonflies as we set up camp, enjoyed our unexpected Coors beer, and performed our evening routines.