Day 97

Day 97 – mile 1797 to 1818 – Smokey Smoke Camp to Crater Lake Camp:
Worst.  Night.  Ever.  On the trail so far at least.  The bugs were relentless and I was too stubborn at first to set up my net, preferring instead to sweat myself stupid deep in my sleeping bag in the hope that they would go away when it cooled down a bit.  It didn’t cool down so after feverishly tossing and turning until midnight, I eventually relented and took the two minutes to set up the net like I should have done in the first place.  Then, around 4am, the sky decided to send a little precipitation my way, waking me up with a sprinkle, and forcing me into action with a legitimate light rain.  I curled up with as much stuff as I could fit under my umbrella to wait it out, receiving a new round of bites from the hovering mosquitoes.  Fortunately, it didn’t last and I stretched back out to try and steal a few more hours of sleep before the trail called me back.
The rain returned at 6:30am, and this time I decided to pack up and get moving.  I’d had enough of this night and the laziness induced discomforts.  The trail played the roll of friend and tried to cheer my mood with scores of tiny frogs hopping away from my stomping path and miles of huckleberry bushes with fruits ripe for the picking.  The light rain continued in short showers, keeping the dust down and bringing a welcome damp coolness to the forest, as I took my time picking berries and forgetting the trials of the night.
The trail took me up and down more than I would have liked, residual fatigue in my legs making me feel slow and weak, but the berries powered me through and into Crater Lake National Park.  Once I passed the border, nothing was going to stop me until I had some ice cream in my belly and a bench to sit on.  Just past 3pm, I moseyed on up to the benches outside the Mazama Village store that were packed with my filthy, smelly, beautiful hiker brethren.
I took advantage of the wifi and picked up my resupply package from the store.  With no cell reception to coordinate my rendezvous with my buddy who was driving in to meet me, I was happy to hang out amongst this very conspicuous crowd.  Many a tourist-packed car rolled slowly by as its passengers snapped photos of us like they would a pack of wild animals.
Eventually my dude, Alamo, showed up bearing the gifts of a burrito and a bug repellent bracelet (thanks, Didjima!).  Fresh off his first season of playing professional ultimate frisbee (ladies, he’s single), he’s made the mistake of coming to join me for the next section.  It will likely be painful for him, and nostalgic for me.  We set up camp at the hiker campsite in the rain, then I demolished the burrito.  It was disconcerting to me that a 6 hour old burrito from Chipotle carried from a different state has a very real shot at being the best burrito of the trip so far.  C’mon Oregon, what are you going to do about that?
The light pitter-patter of rain on the tarp has me glad that it’s big enough for two to be comfortable.  The epicness of Crater Lake tomorrow will demand a well rested effort.

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