Smoke on the Water
I made it all the way to Oregon with continuous steps, but a fire near Crater Lake threatened that. Talking with XC and Sweet P, we wanted to get past Crater Lake as soon as possible fearing that the Rim Trail would soon close. Unfortunately, their packages didn't arrive in time, so they stayed at Mazama Village while I moved on with Hammer.
Up at Rim Village, I checked messages and made a phone call while Hammer did the same. I ended up meeting a couple from Virginia who hiked the PCT last year except for this stretch because of a fire closure. They had to cancel their plans to hike this stretch again because this fire closed their planned campsite. Meanwhile, they encouraged us to hurry as the wind was blowing the fire right to the trail.
This is totally safe!
Hammer and I moved up to a pink ribbon stretched across the trail. I think that Hammer wanted to turn back, but I encouraged him to duck under it with some simple logic:
For all we knew, that ribbon could be the finish line of a race.
If the trail is actually closed, those firefighters will stop us and they don't seemed concerned about us.
I knew the logic was faulty as firefighters had more important things to worry about and a ribbon across the start of a trail that had a fire near it could only realistically mean one thing.
The sign said we're good.
He agreed and ducked the ribbon with me. Being honest, my heart was beating through my chest and the butterflies in my stomach were throwing up, but continuous steps meant a lot to me. I did enjoy seeing Crater Lake, all the smoke, and the weird effects the smoke had on the lighting. However, my breathing got much easier after we passed a point where it was safer to move on instead of turn back.
Smoke on the water...
...and fire in the sky
Later, we saw the person from search and rescue who cleared the trail. She pretended to be confused about how she didn't see us and we pretended to be just as confused. In reality, all of us knew what happened and later as she ran down the trail to a radio, I think I know why she was in such a hurry. She wanted to make sure nobody else ducked the ribbon.
That day, I struck a friendship with Hammer and took another opportunity to hike with him when I had the chance.
Sometime later, I saw the Virginia couple and told them what happened. That's when I learned that another hiker, Maui, was no more than 5 minutes behind us and he got turned around as the trail was now guarded. That means that Hammer and I were the last to make it through before the fire closure. While he (I don't know his name) congratulated me on keeping my continuous steps, I got the feeling that he actually was pissed off by my actions and the fact that I got away with it.
I moved on to not rub it in as that wasn't my intent. That day was one of the highlights of the trail for me and sharing that with Hammer is something I will always treasure.
Pathfinder, Section B, and Hammer