I was sceptical about the transformation I was meant to experience once I reached Crater Lake. Especially because I needed to take four litres of water from the Rim Village to make it 26 miles to the next water source, and because the trail started off incredibly steep. As I looked across the vast beauty of such an incredibly large glistening lake, I couldn’t help but be distracted by the growing nerve pain in the top of my left thigh.
I decided the only cure was to stop, rest and drink. I found a gorgeous spot overlooking the lake and found solace in the fact that the pain was forcing me to stop and enjoy the surroundings, instead of racing to the next water source. I opened up my pack of Fritos corn chips, laid on my sleeping mat, and soaked up the morning sunshine. It was blissful! I drank a litre of water, took a deep breath, and decided the lake had won me over after all.
The trail emerged at a number of parking lots as it made its way around the rim of the lake, and at one such spot, I passed a hiker heading south. He was carrying a huge pack so I assumed he wasn’t a thru hiker, but when I said hello as we passed, he turned and asked if I was Muk Muk. As Tom was from New Zealand, a hiker ahead of me had mentioned to him there was an Australian girl heading up the trail close behind. He had an incredibly thick accent and I asked him if people had trouble understanding him because even I struggled to follow every word. There must have been some Southern Hemisphere connection because we started chatting like old mates, sharing trail stories, how we both came to be hiking across the US, and other stories we’d heard along the way. Once he told me there was water at the highway in 11 miles I immediately drank another litre, and he even told me there was a package with my name on it waiting there! How could this be?
We must have talked for over half an hour and then cruised on in opposite directions. I honestly love bumping into south bounders, maybe because it’s such a rare one off opportunity to meet these people seeing the trail from a completely different perspective. When I told him I was having some mental struggles he said ‘you should be celebrating the fact you’re almost at the end’. I guess for them we have hiked a lot further than they have, almost 1000 miles further which helped me put things into perspective a little. He was right, I should be celebrating! Snap out of it Muk Muk and smell the roses, you have come a long way!
Positive energy started sweeping through my body again, but my nerve pain kept creeping back despite the lighter load. I was ready for a break when I came across two women section hikers I’d met when I ran into Tom called Madam Weasel and Madam Squirrel. Madam Weasel was massaging Madam Squirrel’s feet and told me she was a massage therapist willing to give me the same treatment. A foot massage on trail!? The lake certainly had provided a little magic for the day. My feet were in absolute heaven, and I felt reenergised and fresh as soon as I put my shoes back on. Thank you ladies!
Just as I set off two other hikers I hadn’t met before caught up to me. There names were Brad and Melissa, and because we hiked about the same speed we spent the next 5 miles talking trail and sharing stories. The time absolutely flew by and I realised what a difference it makes to walk with other people. My mind finally got a much needed break from itself! We stopped and had lunch together before they cruised on ahead. They were such nice people that it gave me an additional boost, and although the last few miles to the highway dragged a little, I was there before 6pm and excited to see what goodies awaited me! Sadly, when I got to the small cache there were only a few bottles of water.
But then, less than a mile up the trail…
I set up camp about a mile past the second cache. My nerve pain came back and I felt like catching up on the blog and resting for the night. I’m in a much better head space this evening, and will make it my mission to keep a positive attitude through this next section to Shelter Cove Resort and onto Canada!