August 7, 2022
(Technically illegal) campsite on the Crater Lake Rim Trail to Highway 138 on the PCT to camp at Lemolo Lake in Umpqua National Forest
8.6 PCT miles
3.5 non-PCT miles
We cowboy camped, which usually means faster packing up, but for some reason, I really can’t get it together this morning. Jumbo and Tribute are packed and waiting on the trail for sunrise, but I have to join them and then go back and finish getting ready. Ah, well. The sunrise is amazing. It glitters and drips and makes me so excited for today. It’s a super short day. All we’re doing is going to the road, highway 138, where Wiggs will meet us and take us to a cool campsite. It’s going to be awesome.
We finish the last small bit of the rim trail and then we’re back on the PCT. We stop for a luxurious tea and coffee break since it’s way less mileage than we thought it was, then we stop for water at a cache, then, a little while later, Jumbo and I find a nice spot under some trees for another long break. Tribute comes to join us and we absolutely chill, taking our sweet time since Wiggs won’t be there until the afternoon. Tribute shows us the “True Facts” video about mosquitoes, which is actually really interesting. Watching videos while lounging and drinking tea in the middle of the day? I’m a fan of this.
It’s not much longer before we reach the road crossing. I can’t believe the convenience of this fire closure’s location. It starts here, at highway 138, and goes up to near Shelter Cove. We were already planning on meeting up with Wiggs here, and he’s agreed to take us around the Windigo closure so we can keep hiking. Amazing.
He arrives at the road not long after we get there. I give him a huge hug when he walks over. He looks great and he seems really happy. Clearly, this Forest Service job in Umpqua has been good for him. He introduces himself to Jumbo and Tribute, then says, “I feel like I’m meeting celebrities!”
We load up in his car and takes us to a pizza place on Diamond Lake. I order a Philly cheese steak sandwich, however, and I trade halves with Wiggs, who opts for the chicken parm sandwich. Both are amazing. It’s a beautiful day sitting outside at the picnic tables by the lake. It’s odd, but also really cool, to be with my PCT tramily while being with Wiggs, who I met on the AT. He asks me the inevitable question of which trail I like more, to which I give the standard reply: I love them both, but in very different ways, and nothing will ever be like your first thru-hike.
We debate the merits of going around the fire closure today instead of tomorrow, but the problem is that we aren’t sure what campsites are available back on the trail where we’d pick up. Plus, Wiggs already has a hookup with a great camping spot on Lemolo Lake. So we decide to head there and just get up really early tomorrow so he can take us back to the northern end of the Windigo closure.
The campsite is truly lovely, just a little patch of flat land on the shore of the lake. We set our stuff down and crack open a couple of Moose Drool beers that Wiggs brought (it’s a favorite of his since it’s from Missoula, Montana, where he grew up). The lake is a little algae-y, but we decide to punge in anyway. It’s a lovely temperature, and it’s deep enough that you can get a good proper swim in.
As the night goes on, we perch on the edge of the water drying off while Wiggs plays chill music from his Bluetooth speaker. We cook dinner, drink more beer. We talk about the PCT, his time in Oregon, and what we’re doing after our respective adventures. He’s planning to either extend his season and then return home for a few months, or seek out a GIS internship and then return to Ohio for a bit. Either way, he’s planning a thru of the PCT next year. He picks our brains about the different sections and what we like about the trail.
Wiggs is the only person I’ve dated that I’m still actively friends with, and it feels amazing to be so close to him in this way. I consider him one of my best friends, someone who knows me like the back of their hand, someone who feels comfortable and right. He’s a peaceful, deeply reflective person who seems way older than his 24 years. I feel so calm tonight, sitting here with the music and a Moose Drool and a friend who feels like home. Add on the fact that my PCT tramily is here, and I feel like the luckiest person in the world to live a life of hiking trails, meeting cool people, and making such connections.
Tribute and Jumbo go to sleep first, and Wiggs and I sit up and talk for a while longer. Soon, though, it’s well past hiker midnight, and I’m ready for bed. I crawl into my tent smelling of pond water and feeling grateful.