It was still a bit chilly and wet when I woke up, so I did as much packing as I could still inside my tent. I believe this was the morning I figured out how to roll up my air mattress without pulling it out of the tent first and without emerging from under the rainfly myself.
The day started with an hour of blog picture uploading while waiting for the lodge to open followed by a nice breakfast at the lodge. I arrived first and started eating while Owl and Phoenix packed up. Then they joined me as I was finishing and I went back to the cabin to pack up and do the dishes and get out by check-out time. We arranged a ride in the truck of one of the resort operators back to the trailhead and started hiking together.
I was in the lead, but at some point, I started seeing pole drag marks on the trail like Phoenix would leave. I stopped at an immaculately clean privy and, when I came out, I talked to a man parked in the parking area enjoying the weather. Apparently it was something he did often:
“You guys always go straight for that privy. I much prefer the outdoors.”
But the point is that he asked me if I was Owl. Phoenix had wanted to send a message she was a half-hour ahead. Which was before I even reached the parking area. Conclusion? She had taken a different trail that shortcut the PCT and gotten in the lead.
I knew where she was planning to stop for the night, but it was getting dark by the time I came near that area. I didn’t see her tent as I passed it by, but I could see plenty of city lights down in the valley.
I kept on a bit further until Pilot Rock. I couldn’t quite see it in the dark, but I expected it would be a spectacular sight in the morning based on the looming prominences near where I was tenting.
It was windy and cold and just starting to rain as I set up my tent. I pulled everything under the fly and cooked in the vestibule once I was snug in bed.
Total distance: 19 miles
Since I had no tent to take down, I could save a few minutes packing up, and I was very eager to get going on this particular day.
I think I woke up between 7 and 8, but clearly Owl and Phoenix clearly got up well before me because by the time I was only half packed up and collecting more water from that barely trickling spring, Phoenix appeared sitting there doing the same.
I was so impressed by Ranger Springs that I returned in the morning just to get them on video. And I still managed to get packed up and hike back to the PCT before Owl and Phoenix had caught up.
I got a decently early start, making it back to the rim trail and into Rim Village a little after 9am. Despite the early hour, there were several other people on the trail, especially after I passed Discovery Point, the last mile to the village. Presumably, they all wanted to see the lake and take pictures by morning light, same as me. It definitely looked very different than it had the previous afternoon. Also, everyone was probably up earlier across the board thanks to the extra hour of sleep the time change afforded.
It was a very cold night and morning, so I slept in a bit. By the time I had packed up and hiked down to the highway, it was already practically 10am.
But that turned out to be very good timing. Owl and Phoenix were there at the trailhead just getting started. They had gotten a ride in from Diamond Lake Resort, where they had spent the previous night in an outdated cabin. They also picked up their resupply there. Grommet and Firefly had been there too, but had left the trail, having finished their hike.
Not a super eventful day. Cold morning, clear day. Don’t remember seeing anyone else. The views from the side of Mt. Thielsen were great. Came into the trailhead campground near state highway 138 right around sunset. Had the camping area to myself, even though there were multiple campsites. Another relatively cold place to camp, but it did have a picnic table.
I was sworn by internet friend to get sunrise pictures from my cliffside campsite, so getting up before the sun was a priority for the day. The sunrise pictures turned out nice enough, but I think sunset looked better.
I kind of slept in a little bit this morning. And it was a long morning for leaving out too, so I didn’t really get started until 9 or 10. But I had enough food before the road where I could get to town that I could afford to take it easy for one day.