So, I took a zero in Bend. Bend is a great place, but it is certainly not on trail, which means it’s time for another AmAzInG DoUbLe DaY PoSt!!!!…
Honestly, my zero wasn’t very fun. I spent the vast majority of it in a coin laundromat a 20 minute walk from my motel. That is, I got one load going and ran it all the way through until done. Solid two hours. Then I changed into the clean clothes and washed the ones I was wearing, then went out for a meal of fast tacos and a trip to the grocery to pick up some limes. Then, back at my room, I realized I had forgotten to wash a critical item and walked all the way back out to wash a third load. Finally, it was so late that I had to skip drying it and go.
Why? Because I needed to get to REI, a 30 minute walk in the other direction, with enough time to try on clothes and so forth. I bought some waterproof gaiters, snow pants, a snow jacket, new trekking poles. I had meant to exchange some busted items, but I had been in such a hurry I’d forgotten to grab them. I don’t think I remembered to check whether they had canister fuel, though I expect the shortage was affecting them as well. I would end up starting the next section with only the fuel I had on hand.
Finally, after a day that was nothing but work, I set out carrying my busted, overflowing REI bag to do one fun thing in Bend. (The only bags they had were busted by default.)
I let Google route me to Crux Fermentation Project, the brewery halfway between REI and my motel that looked like it had some good stuff online. But I didn’t trust Google enough once the brewery came into site and tried to take a shortcut. I circled around a jumbled pile of stuff in the middle of a field with the sound of a generator running inside and realized I had stumbled on a homeless camp. On the other side was an impassable drop onto a railroad track. I worked my way back to the Google approved route.
Anyway, it was a nice restaurant and brewery with multiple places to order and a big field and tent beside it with a giant fire and a lot of chill people enjoying their evenings. It was the most normal social event I had seen in a town in a long time. Aside from the masks and distance between groups, of course.
I ate a bowl of something vaguely mex inspired and drank two of their favorite beers, which brought me right to closing time, then started back to the motel, which surprised me by how close it was.
I got up quite early and repacked my pack to incorporate the new items to get out of my room by 8:20. I turned in my key and set out down the road to my first destination…
Then I realized I didn’t have my phone and ran back to the motel to get the key back. The manager laughed heartily at my forgetfulness. But by 8:30 I was on my way again. Luckily, everything I needed was only a couple of minutes away.
My first stop was the UPS Store, where I sent home the clothes my recent purchases had obsoleted. Right across the street was Bend’s only (yet controversial) transit center. I was to meet a shuttle here that would leave me at Santiam Pass. To confirm this, I asked a stranger. “Unfortunately, yes,” he quipped, in a way that a native might have understood. He then wanted to continue talking about being careful of all the dangerous animals. Frankly, he creeped me out, so I went to sit far from him.
I didn’t have to wait long. The shuttle showed up on time and the driver was super nice and chill. An hour later, I was at the PCT Trailhead, right at the southern end of the closed section I had had to skip.
The terrain I faced once I crossed the highway was some of the dullest I had seen to date. I can’t even describe how uninteresting it was. It was flat and relatively easy to move through, but there was also someone not far away using machinery that sounded like an industrial strength vacuum. I stopped at a pond to get some water because I had forgotten to get enough from my motel room, and then bypassed the side trip to Big Lake Youth Camp, though I could see Big Lake just fine from the trail.
The trail followed the edge of a lava field and I stopped early at the foot of it in a sandy, flat area that was the last marked campsite in Guthook for ten miles.
I set up camp close to the edge of the lava and climbed inside my tent to do some maintenance. Soon, I heard some activity outside.
Owl and Phoenix had arrived following two consecutive zeroes in Bend. And they had friends with them: Firefly and her partner who was entirely new to long distance hiking but would receive the trail name Grommet that very night. Not after the claymation dog character but for the way he liked to manufacture useful gear for the trail and incorporate grommets into them.
Owl and I rearranged an area next to the lava so we could have a campfire to celebrate the beginning of Grommet’s adventure. We all sat near the fire cooking and eating our own suppers until the sun was gone and a thick fog was rolling in. At that point, we all started getting the urge to turn in led by Phoenix. I was second to hit the sack, hoping to get an early start the next morning.
Total distance: 12 miles