August 9th, 2018
Rockpile Lake mm 2015 to HWY 242 mm 1984, then ride to Sisters and Bend, OR
Distance: 31 miles
What a long and tough day but I did it! I made it all the way to Bend. It was an ambitious goal, given the miles, high temps, lack of water, terrain, climbs and logistics of getting to town. It might have been the toughest day yet.
I made good time through mostly burned areas and up to the ridge bellow Three Fingered Jack Mt.
I was down to Hwy 20 by 1030 and found a cooler of trailer magic with beers and coke.
Since I have walked over 2000 miles on other trails, I helped myself to a coke. This point signifies Mile 2000 for NOBOs. There were a bunch taking pictures at the mark but I passed by since it had little significance to me, other than having to still walk 2000 miles…yikes! The heat of the day was just starting to make itself known and it was kind of depressing.
I stopped at a lake and last water source for 15 miles. I tanked up and jumped in to get my clothes all wet. It’s a strategy I developed for hiking and dealing with the heat in FL. I went a few more miles and encountered a couple, Elizabeth and Jack, doing more trail magic. I had an iced tea and apple. I also dipped some of my clothes in the cooler water to re-wet them. What an unexpected and appreciated treat! I am getting spoiled by all this trail magic.
I carried on and it got HOT. Probably the hottest day yet. I later heard that it reached 104 F in Bend. And here I was walking through mounds of black lava for miles in the peak heat of the day…it was crazy! I had fortunately been warned by a NOBO to bring lots of water for the lava and that it would be slow going. He was right.
Luckily, I also caught up to another SOBO just before the lava and we endured together. Having someone to talk to through the miles makes it so much easier. I have known of Suvi, a Finnish lady, for quite awhile because she has a Trackleaders profile and a blog. I have always been a day or two behind her but she had taken some zeros in Bend.
She did the TA a few years ago and so we had many stories to share. I was hesitant to bring up the subject of my friends Tuomas and Anna, also Finnish, given the ignorant assumption that all Finns must know each other. But of course she knew them! They had shared info on the two trails and are from the same area in Finland. So funny and such a small world.
We thought we might expire in the furnace of the lava fields. At least I have a high tolerance to heat but I couldn’t imagine how Suvi felt, given her origins. The last few hours and miles stretched into eternity. I felt I must be the Mother of Dragons to endure such conditions.
Like an oasis, the HWY appeared and a NOBO told us of another trail magic cooler. Somehow I found the energy to RUN and almost cried when I found a cold coke in the cooler. Amazing.
Even more amazing, another SOBO, Sasafrass, stumbled out of the furnace (we had passed her while she rested) and had a ride coming to pick her up. I asked if I could poach on her ride and it was not a problem. A NOBO couple had warned me that they had a hard time hitching from this point, so I was relived to find a ride so easily.
I had to say goodby to Suvi but hoped I would see her down the trail, as we have so much in common. We are even nearly the same age.
My coke endorsement.
The awesome ending to the day continued as Ben picked us up and gave us beers. We stopped to check out the Dee Wright Observatory, all constructed of lava rock. The top deck had a display pointing to all the mountains. The lower level had holes carved out in the direction of significant mountains. It was very cool and a useful display for dad’s with bad geography skills.
The Sisters mountains (more volcanos!) to the south, my next point of navigation.
Looking back over the lava fields that I crossed.
We stopped in Sisters to have dinner. I had a bison burger and life was good. Poor Ben had to listen to Sasafrass and I prattle on about trail stories and all the other SOBOs we both knew. Not being a thru-hiker can be very segregating. He was a good sport and I was grateful for the ride. Thanks and Happy Birthday, Ben!
I called the hostel in Bend and was relieved to get a bunk so late in the evening. The Bunk and Brew historic house is a rustic but charismatic place. It was humming with lots of hikers, bikers, firefighters, and others when I got in. Everyone gets a complimentary beer and breakfast. I stayed in all-female dorm and it was very quiet. Unfortunately it was so hot I had a hard time sleeping. But a shower felt oh so good. What a day!