Our friends Neil and Andrea dropped us off at the trail head well-fed and well-rested. Meeting these wonderful people has been one of the highlights of this trip, and I truly hope we're able to repay their kindness and hospitality someday in Boston. Needless to say, it was tough to say goodby.
We started out with expectations of low mileage for the day. Rosary Lake was the first distraction, we just had to stop for a skinny dip only a couple of miles into our hike! Delicious. Then, only 20 minutes later, we found a breezy spot between two more lakes that we just couldn't pass up as a lunch spot. Capping off our delightful day at a mere 16 miles, we camped well before sunset at yet another lake.But there is no rest for the thru-hiker. To make up for our lax day, we woke up at 5:30 the next morning to attempt our first 30 mile day. It was another nice day- we've been really lucky with the weather-and the trail took us past lots of water. However, these "lakes" were usually small and murky and much smaller than Farm Pond, where my Granny lived in Sherborn, MA. It took us all day to cover 30.4 miles despite favorable weather and gentle terrain and short breaks. You would have thought we had walked 40 miles with how tired we were at the end of the day! Still, it is a satisfying achievement to log so many miles in one day for the very first time on this trip!
The next day we churned out 29 miles through the lovely Three Sisters Wilderness named appropriately after a trio of mountains known as the Three Sisters. There's a whole "family"of peaks in this area of Oregon- Little Brother, Wife, Husband, and even Mt. Bachelor. We traipsed through fields of shiny, black obsidian rocks and miles of crumbly lava beds that twisted ankles and slowed our progress. Rumors of Trail Magic at McKenzie Pass proved false, leaving us a little lower on water than we would have wanted. But the trail head was still a nice place to camp for the evening, flat ground between piles of lava. We woke in the middle of the night to cute little sage rats scampering and climbing all over our tent - that's a first, at least they weren't inside the tent!
Another early morning start the next day but we had to fore go coffee because of our water situation. Coffee is one of the many luxuries we allow ourselves on the trail in addition to iPods, pleasure reading books, and peanut M&M's. We made it to Santiam Pass 17 miles later by early afternoon and we got a hitch right away from a cool Bend, OR resident named Luke. He was so cool, in fact, that our first stop wasn't a hotel in Sisters but a local Brewery! We all enjoyed a couple cold brews before he dropped us off at the Sister's Inn for a night of gluttony in front of the TV. After a couple of long days, town time is especially appreciated. We also are looking forward to our vacation from our vacation- a Parker family gathering in less than 2 weeks!