*Update 2 of 5*
We snuck out of the Mazama Village Campground early and as quietly as we could. We’d been in Crater Lake National Park for more than 12 hours and were dying to finally see the lake, plus we figured an early escape would help us avoid any awkward encounters with our “neighbors.” It was a four-mile hike up to the rim and we were eagerly anticipating the view. We weren’t disappointed. The first view of Crater Lake was breathtaking. In the cool windless morning, the water was like absolute glass, so much so that it was actually hard to determine where the land ended and the lake began. I’ve said it before, but truly the pictures just don’t do justice to seeing a beauty like this in person.
The PCT walks the rim of Crater Lake for about 11 miles, so we had plenty of time to enjoy the sights. We made slow progress for the first few miles, stopping every time we got a new angle for a photo. Finally our hunger won out and we sat down to one of the most beautiful “second breakfasts” we’ve had on the trail. Suddenly the pizza order we’d put in before leaving the restaurant the night before didn’t seem so silly. :)
The remainder of the day after leaving Crater Lake was less exciting – the “green tunnel” had returned and we were still trekking through a 27-mile stretch between water sources. From all we knew of Oregon (which, to be honest, was mostly based on TV shows like Portlandia), we weren’t expecting to have to carry so much water – we figured there’d be ample water sources available along the trail. And as it turns out, we were kind of right – there are ample sources of water, but the PCT was leading us right around them. Apparently, when the Pacific Crest Trail was still in development, it was believed that the trail would be primarily used for equestrian purposes. For that reason, long stretches of the PCT deliberately avoid water sources, at least in part to keep horses from polluting water sources all along the trail and also probably because folks who are riding the trail on horseback can travel longer distances more quickly. Which is super interesting, but not at all helpful to those of us who don’t have horses and have to schlep our own water around, so we were starting to become a little frustrated with the water situation – we were having flashbacks to being back in the desert.
When we found out that the next day held an optional alternate route along the Oregon Skyline Trail (the original border-to-border trail in Oregon), all we needed to know to make the decision to take it was that the alternate route ran near a few awesome lakes and creeks along the way. This was starting to look a little more like the Oregon we’d been expecting. The OST alternate was a 20.5-mile stretch of trail that lead us straight into our next resupply at the beautiful Shelter Cove Resort where we managed to nab quick showers, a load of laundry, and a pizza (each) before heading back out.