Day 87: plodding through the dust to Shelter Cove

July 20
Mileage 21
Mile 1884 to mile 1913

It’s cold in the morning- cold! And hard to get up. I wake at 5:30, drift in and out, finally crawl from the tent to assemble my morning oatmeal. The mosquitoes are awake. It’s 7 a.m. when Twinkle and I start hiking.

I’m tired today. So tired. Why? Because we’ve been hiking a lot, I guess. Or I have giardia. I don’t know. Either way, today will make 180 miles in 6 days. Consecutive 30’s add up fast, apparently. So much ground covered, and just on our feet! It boggles the mind. Today we’re headed to Shelter Cove resort, where we’ve got resupply boxes. A relaxing 20 miles. Twinkle talks of hiking farther after that. No way, I say. You do what you want, but I need a half day. Wash the dust off me, rinse out my socks, write emails. Blog. In the world where we live in, 20 miles is a “half day”.

We take the Oregon Skyline Trail to Shelter Cove- it’s a popular alternate because it’s prettier, and has more water. At least that’s what we’ve heard. Really, though, the trail is made of dust. The Oregon Dustline Trail. Yellow dust sifting up with our footsteps, dust coating our teeth, making us sneeze. Dust on our skin, mixed with the sweat and the oil. Turning everything black. The creekbeds on this trail are dry, just tumbled lava rocks and dusty bridges. There really is a drought here. I’m so tired today, my whole body aches. Hiking. Man, I’ve been doing some hiking.

We plod in the dusty forest all day, sitting down in it now and then to eat disgusting snacks. Trail mix. By god, I’m sick of trail mix, but it’s all I have left. Why didn’t I pack any chips? A temporary lapse in judgment.

We reach the resort at 3 and everyone is there, drinking budweiser, trashing up the beautiful wooden deck. Guthrie’s parents are here-

“We’ve got a campsite,” says Guthrie. “My parents are making venison chili and gluten-free cornbread. Everyone could camp there…”

“Yes,” I say. “Yes.”

I shower at the resort, wash off all the black dust. 3 minutes of water for $1.50- I’ve got $5 in quarters but six minutes, it turns out, is all I need. Rinse my socks in the sink. Park next to the power strip on the deck, hunched over my phone, write a thousand emails. Everyone else leaves for chili but I stay. So much to do, so little time to do it!

The others return a few hours later and tell me tales of dinner- I realize I’m fucking starving. I’ve eaten three packets of fruit snacks and an almond snickers from the hiker box since we got here, no real food. The hiker box is incredible- several people dumped their entire resupply boxes in there. I managed to trade all my trail mix for stuff that seems more appetizing- bars, packets of tuna. Plus I bought a big bag of classic lays potato chips. A whole resupply without trail mix- I’m so excited for my food this section!

The trail to the campground winds around the lake- the forest is lush and green here, so different for the dust-laden dystopia we hiked through all day. Blueberry and huckleberries fill the understory- the berries aren’t ripe yet, but Woody and I eat them anyway.

“Vaccinium!” Woody keeps saying. “Vaccinium!”

Guthrie’s parents, Susan and Mike, have pulled a cute little trailer up from Texas, spread a checked tablecloth over the picnic table, and laid out the most incredible spread. Chili made with venison that Guthrie got, mesculin salad with tomatoes and vinegarette, gluten-free corn cakes, big ziploc bags of cherries and fat blueberries. (Thank you Susan and Mike!!) I eat until I can’t anymore, and then I write a dozen postcards. So much to do, so little time!

The others return, drunk, arms laden with hikerbox goodies. Mack and Chance eat lucky charms from their titanium pots- second dinner. We spread out our bedrolls to cowboy camp as the last of the light drains from the forest, the sounds of other campers filter through the trees. A very good day.

Photos on instagram.

6 thoughts on “Day 87: plodding through the dust to Shelter Cove

  1. That’s my goal next year, be excited about the food in my pack. I’m really worried about not liking my backpack food.

    But what’s this? “mescaline salad”? Don’t trip too hard!

  2. I’m not surprised that you guys raced past Crescent Lake, the crystal clear water where you could wash off all the dust you complain about…

  3. Don’t be naive, JP, only the weak would stop and wash off. We elitists must crush miles, and win the pct. No time to even look at the lake. Maybe another year…

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