I had gone to sleep the night before to the sound of coyotes going out to hunt; I woke up to the sound of coyotes returning from a hunt. I rather like the sound of coyotes-- when it's not the sound of coyotes surrounding the neighbor's cat. (That's horrible. An auditory memory I will never get out of my head.) But out in the backcountry, it makes me smile. I enjoy hearing the sound of the pack, moving together like a team for a common purpose. Coyotes are like people, that way.
It's always a little chilly when you get up before sunrise. I like to get up at that time, quickly break down camp and get moving. It makes for easy miles in the cool air. And since I was in Oregon now, I was back in trees. Lots of people complain about hiking in trees-- they prefer the high desert of high alpine regions where there are exposed views that go on forever. I like the views, too. But there is definitely a different energy in the trees that I like. I find the forest very welcoming and safe. And this is how I hiked this morning, in a calm and welcoming embrace.
As always on this trail, though, there were SOME exposed ridge lines, so I did get some nice views as the sun came up.
The other thing you always hit on the PCT are burn areas. Long stretches of blackened tree trunks with curled up branches in a gray and black landscape. It's like hiking through a Tim Burton film. And we hit a few today. Its amazing, too, how you can tell how hot the fire burned by the trees. Slower burning, cooler fires have blackened trunks, but sometimes intact branches and the brush is starting to come back in patches along the ground. Sometimes there are blackened trunks and limbs, but evidence of seedling sprouting up here and there. And then there are vast wastelands with nothing but ash. These are the trees with the curled up limbs. These are the areas that will need to be reseeded in a forest restoration project. I walked through all these types of burns today.
And then, I just couldn't walk any more. Sometimes that happens. Your legs feel like jello, your trunk feels like lead. (And everybody knows that jello cannot support lead) So with a mere 6 miles to Crater Lake, I set up camp in a small, flat clearing, and rested my jello legs for the night. Crater Lake would have to wait one more day.