After finishing the August 1st journal entry last night, I hiked the four miles up to the rim. It was growing dark and I needed to find a place to stealth camp. (Stealth camping = camping so that you are unseen by most passersby, usually in areas where camping is not allowed.) I watched the sun go down on Crater Lake. The lake is quite a spectacle. It’s really the remnant of a formerly majestic volcanic peak called Mt Mazama. Mazama erupted and then essentially self-destructed thousands of years ago, leaving a gaping crater, which subsequently filled with water. Crater Lake is the deepest lake in the USA and the seventh deepest in the world. After subset, I walked over to the historic Crater Lake Lodge and sat out on the porch to watch the stars come out.
(I was fascinated with the lake and my hurry to find camping space had abated.) The lodge was built in the early part of the last century and caters to a more affluent crowd than the Motel 6’s I’m used to. The least expensive rooms are around $140 per night, but the price is well worth the scenery as the lodge is perched right up on the rim overlooking the lake.
Getting ready to move on, I walked inside the lodge to look at the historical exhibit. Who should I bump into, walking to their 9:15 dinner reservation? Team Sherpa! Showered and looking cleaned up no less. As it turns out, Sherpa had passed me as I was off trail eating at the buffet and resupplying in Mazama Village. They had sent packages to the lodge here and, on arrival, discovered that their packages were not delivered to the lodge, but were 1,000 feet back downhill in Mazama Village. They were sitting out on the porch, probably looking a little dejected and worse for the wear, when they were approached by a group of cyclists who happened to be lodge guests. From what I understand, conversation was brief, but the upshot was that the cyclists bought Sherpa a room for the night. So, on seeing me later in the evening, Sherpa offered me the floor, which I accepted, and joined them for dinner (after a shower of course!).
On any long distance trail, there are people who assist hikers, and they are known as trail angels. Some are an institution, like the Saufleys, the Andersons or the Heitmans.
They take in all hikers free of charge and are well known by everyone on the trail. The cyclists are the best kind of trail angel. They’re the type of people who are moved, spontaneously, to help out a long distance hiker, but are otherwise unknown to other hikers and generally know just a little bit about the trail we’re on. They’re the people who invite you over to their campfire, or hand you a bottle of water (or Frappucino!) on the roadside. They’re part of what distinguishes a hike from a true journey.