Years ago, Steve and I drove to Olallie Lake. One of our coworkers had extolled its many virtues, building it to unattainable expectations in our minds. What we found were miles of gravel road, followed by miles of pot-holed dirt road, which our car rebelled at. Mice ran across the floor of the one room “cabin” at night and we were generally unimpressed.
Fast forward twenty years & four months along the trail and I found the “rustic resort” quite charming. 😂
The roads have not improved and actually may be worse, but when my hiker trash companions in the back of the van yelled roller coaster and threw their hands in the air, it somehow made it better!
The night before, I’d met Steve at Santiam Pass. We were hanging out in the van, when we heard people calling our name. Weatherman, who’d passed hours ago was back, along with another couple. Apparently, lightening had struck a tree on the trail and started a fire. The French Canadian couple (who I reconnected with at Crater Lake) saw it happen and tried to put it out but it was already over six feet high and surrounding the tree. They called 911 (or someone) and fire jumpers were parachuted in within the hour to contain and put out the fire.
Turning back meant Weatherman and the couple (I really should remember their names) would miss deadlines to finish the trail and asked to ride along with me the next morning. I was glad for the company! We waited around long enough to be sure Steve could get through the burned portion then headed out.
Once we arrived I hung out with Weatherman at the store for awhile then moved over to the trailhead for the night. It was one of my best parking spots so far! Lots of shade, right off the trail, next to Head Lake and literally across the dirt road from Olallie Lake.
I saw Skyline (from Cincinatti, who I’d met the first day I had the van on trail) so went to chat with him and his group for awhile. We all went swimming in Head Lake (Olallie is a drinking water source, so no swimming) where we met three women who were up there camping. They were floating around the lake, drinking beer. What a great day they were having! They’ve been friends for thirty years and come up to the lake annually.
I’m not great at being a girlfriend, so I can’t really imagine their bond. I’ve been close to different women through different periods of my life, and I’m certain I could call on any one of them during a time of need, but that’s somehow different than what I perceived these women to share. It was quite fun to spend time with them and with Skyline and his group!
I hiked out to meet Steve the next day. The trail was pretty rough and he’d not had the best last couple days. I was sure glad to see him! He spent the night & hiked out the next morning.
I had to move the van when some forest service guys came to cut down some diseased trees. The picnic area was beautiful! I made myself some coffee and poured a bowl of shredded wheat then sat with a view of Mt Jefferson, while sharing oranges with hikers who came by. Glorious start to the day!
As I got ready to leave, a Brazilian hiker, Jungle, came into camp. He’s in his early 20’s and is hiking with another Brazilian. We hadn’t seen them since Shelter Cove where we had stopped for the night and they had kept going. (Racing to the end before the Visas expire). He asked if Steve would be coming tonight. I said he got there yesterday and had already left for the day. He was shocked 😮 and said “he’s already here and gone????” I greatly enjoyed saying yes he’d left several hours earlier. I could see in his eyes that he couldn’t believe the old guy had somehow passed them and was even ahead of them. It should not have given me such joy, but it sure did! Go, Steve! You’re kicking ass and taking names!!! 😍
Fun to continue reading about your van hiking travels and how it is working out for both of you and other hikers along the way. You are a friend now , call me any time.