Distance hiked today: 35.1 miles / 56.5 km.
A chaotic day ensued. I needed to get the miles in today, and since the post office didn't open until late morning I'd lose too much time. So the plan was: hitchike 14 miles ahead to the end of the Crater Lake rim trail in the early morning, hike those miles backwards (South) back to the post office (which would be open by then), get my stuff, hitchike back up 14 miles, and continue North from there.
At 6:30am the road was almost deserted, but I got to the top with 2 hitches. I left most of my gear behind to "slack pack" the rim trail since I'd be going back to the campground anyway. The night was so cold that my clothes didn't dry, so I had to wear my sleep shirt and hang my hiking shirt on my backpack for a few hours until the sun dried it.
Crater Lake was beautiful, picture perfect as always, deep blue and massive. It's a volcanic crater, and the deepest lake in the US (9th in the world). It has no rivers going in or out - the water comes from only rain or snow. I passed other hikers going North who were confused to see me going backwards - I basically just yelled out "post office!" as I went by.
The post office was going to close at noon for lunch, so I had to run the last 4 miles or so but made it there in time for my box. I picked up a salad at the small store but needed more protein, and they had limited options. So I settled for hot dogs, cutting them up cold from the package into my salad and eating a few more. If it has calories and no sugar, I'll eat pretty much anything at this point.
Then I went to pack up my tent, only to find that a squirrel had chewed its way in while I was away. I'd left my bag of nuts in there, and it hit the jackpot. That was stupid of me - in the cold morning after only a few hours of sleep I hadn't even thought about it. Normally I'd throw out the rest of the nuts, but I just didn't have time to buy more and the store would barely have enough (plus they were overpriced). I was confident it wasn't a mouse, so I just poured them into a new Ziploc and hoped for the best, patching my tent with duct tape.
It took me 2 hours to hitch back up to the trail. In the afternoon the place was a zoo, packed with tourists, and it seems like the more cars there are the harder it is to get a ride. Everyone thinks "someone else will stop", except no one does. Standing in the heat, stressed about the time, sleep deprived, exhausted from big miles, and watching so many empty cars pass by while on my third hitch because others were only going partway, I was on the verge of tears of frustration when I finally got a ride the last few miles.
I hit the trail at 3:30pm with 21 miles to go. It was a long afternoon. I caught up with Giggles at dusk, who had gone on her own adventure into the Diamond Lake resort a bit farther up trail to resupply, and we hiked the last 4 miles together in the dark. Getting to camp at 11pm, I was done, and had no energy for dinner. Day 5 Oregon Challenge, done. But I wasn't sure how much longer I could keep it up.
Total trail mileage: 1860.4 miles / 2993.4 km