We were surprised to meet Trail Angel Lloyd Gust at his water cache at Windigo Pass that morning. He's a wonderful man in his 80's (1) that will do all that he can to help out hikers in Central Oregon. A-mazing! We were beaming as we hiked on at the perfect timing of getting to meet such a wonderful man!
There's very little water in this section, so getting to Thielsen Creek felt really good. Mt. Thielsen was beautiful as we climbed up and saw the flowers and views of Western Oregon...so nice (well worth the effort to get up there). We're just chugging away the miles - getting closer and closer to Crater Lake - the excitement continued to build.
We went through just about the ugliest woods I've ever seen getting up to Crater Lake. Almost all the trees had grass looking tumors on them, probably from a bug infestation. But then we walked into the Pumice Desert, with pumice rocks everywhere. We took a break and met Jean and Bill, section hikers who we would later see two more times (and hopefully again when we get near their home in Carson City!) Our maps happened to be misleading and it felt like it was taking forever for us to make progress - I flung myself and my poles and pack onto the ground - tired and frustrated and hot. These two brought a renewed hope to the situation. So we continued on, and soon met a Jehovah's Witness in the woods. It's not everyday we see a man with a tie on out here. Jason and I were bewildered at what the man proceeded to spew out of his mouth. He flipped through the Bible to verses with record speed and pounded us with questions and a silly grin - and this all after we told him we were Christians! We really didn't know what to say to him but we hoped that we never did anything like that to others. A relationship with Jesus is much more valuable to us that whether or not we can answer all of life's questions
We chatted about that bizarre encounter for awhile, made dinner, then met the three men who that guy was actually waiting for! And they were a riot! We talked with them for a long time before the final ascent to Crater Lake.
As we were nearing the Rim, we are walked up on by another Southbounder! What a surprise! Eric had walked about 38 miles that day! Others told him we were ahead and sure enough, he caught up with us just in time to enjoy Crater Lake together, and the sunset. It was fun to catch up with him and learn all about what was happening behind us - we would later have dinner with him in Mazama Village, and then see him here and there on the trail until Callahan's. We took time off there, and he continued on, so I'm not sure if we will see him again. I do hope so.
But back to Crater Lake - we camped on the Rim down away from the wind, but in the morning enjoyed a beautiful sunrise together. We took lots of pictures as we walked closer to the Rim Village - the water was so blue and stunning to look at! I bought some new earrings at the gift shop and we stopped into the Visitor's Center before heading down the trail to Mazama Village.
There we showered, did laundry, drank chocolate milk, went through our Resupply Box with good notes from friends (thank you!) and talked with some Northbounders - we went to an all-you-can-eat buffet with Eric, and boy did we eat! We had 3 people come up to us who were so curious about our hike and we just had a hoot with them. Their questions and enthusiasm were hilarious! (They had a little to drink and two of them lived in Miami, if that helps paint a picture!)
We left (nearly 4 hours later!) and walked in the dark to the trail where we made camp on the nearest flat spot. We slept underneath the stars with full bellies and a new friend - So wonderful! JCrater Lake ended up being an amazing place to see, and now the border of Oregon and California is on the horizon!
Oh man! Over 900 miles done!