The air was thick with smoke from nearby wild fires. I felt like I was being chased - I was only narrowly ahead of trail closures by a day or two. I felt lucky that I didn't have to take any major detours. The smoke wasn't that bad — but some people decided to catch a ride to clearer air.
Patchs, a fellow hiker Ive been leapfrogging with since Southern California, got caught in some gnarly thunderstorms — the cause of most of the fires. She called in several fires as she spotted em. We joked that she started them herself so she could snag a smoke jumper.
I have been to this national park once before in winter. The rim was frosted with snow and it was eerily serene. This time around the place was crawling with RVs and cars. Where there are tourists there is food. I promptly made my way to the resteraunt for a pizza fest.
Full, I caught a guided tour trolley up to the rim lodge the following day and carried on my way.
The rim trail was not flat and I dare say poorly maintained (in comparison to the rest of the PCT.) Which forced me to stop in order to look up and catch the view.
Last time I was at Crater Lake I bought that explorer hat. I had Susan add it to my resupply box before I entered the Sierra. I wanted to channel my inner John Muir. It's a wool hat, so I knew it would keep me warm through the high elevations. What surprised me was how it also kept me cool from the punishing sun.
North lay more volcanic peaks. The fun part about this stretch was passing these dominate land marks on a daily basis. With one focal point you really got a sense of speed. It was astonishing how quickly a distant peak would soon be behind you.