And so it was for today-- my goal was to make it to Fish Lake Resort, a nice lakeside resort located a short 2 mile side trail from the PCT. Reports from other hikers is that it was beautiful There was a friendly staff, hot food, showers, and a nice recreational lake. Getting there would require a 32 mile day (plus 2 miles on the side trail). But I figured that if I couldn't make it, I'd just pitch my tent and set up camp where ever I ended up. Silly me. The trail wasn't gonna let me have that option.
The good news is that it was once again a clear and beautiful day for hiking. We passed quite a few road with trail heads and as a result, quite a few day hikers out for a short hike. Once again, we were heading into forested areas, so there was more shade and tree cover. All the ingredients for a good hike.
This section also had a shelter. Shelters are everywhere on the AT, but only a couple exist on the PCT, so it was a bit of a novelty. Barista and Gigi, two of the hikers I had camped with the night before, were aiming for the shelter for their end point. (That would be a 25 mile day) I considered this, as well. There was a picnic table, a water pump, and lots of flat space around the shelter. But the shelter itself was very uninviting. It was actually more of a warming hut, as there were lots of cross country ski trails in this area, as well. It was small and cramped, with plastic stripping across the entrance to keep the heat in. I can see how this would be great in the winter (it even had a wood stove), but in August with the sun beating down, it was quite uncomfortable. Since it was still fairly early, I decided to press on.
Shortly after the shelter, the terrain changed dramatically. The trail went from a dirt and pine needle path through the woods to a rocky trail through lava fields. My idea that I could just camp anywhere now seemed quite ill-conceived! I was either making it to Fish Lake Resort tonite or....well, there was no other option. I was making it to Fish Lake Resort tonight.
I made it to the resort at 7:55 pm. the store a grill closed at 8. I figured I'd go in and get my usual Dr Pepper and ice cream cookie sandwich and hit up the grill in the morning for breakfast. But the people saw a thru-hiker and kept the place open to make me a hot dinner! How nice was that? I ate chicken fingers and fries with a couple section hikers with a dog and we walked around the lake to the free thru-hiker camp spot. And I took advantage of the bathroom to shower and wash my stinky hiking clothes in the sink.
So thumbs up to Fish Lake Resort! The only downside? The lake was so low and the algae count so high that there was no swimming. (well, I guess you could swim if you really wanted to, but you'd end up looking like the swamp thing) So I declined. S'ok. Hot showers and a hot dinner are good enough.