Crater Lake National Park is a great day trip. I don’t think I would necessarily feel the need to camp there again, but it was worth the trip. With an early morning under my belt, down I went to find me some really big trees. Like, the biggest trees. I started at the Hiouchi Visitor’s Center where a nice ranger talked to me and another couple about some good day hikes, places to camp, and routes to take due to road closures. I paid close attention to that last part seeing as I haven’t been having the best luck with that on this trip…
To dive right in, I parked my car at the Hiouchi River Trailhead and started hiking. The trees gradually got bigger and bigger. I came to one tree that was completely hollow, and thought it was a dead end, so I turned left and went down to the river. The river’s bed was totally full of rocks. Practicing finding my center, I balanced some rocks and got a pretty impressive rock stack waist high before wandering back onto the trail. It turns out, that hollow tree was in fact a tunnel to more of the trail. Perfect. Through the tree I go. The trees towered over me. Moss was still sticking to branches, dead trees, rocks, and the ground. The Hiouchi River Trail follows along the Hiouchi River (also Smith River) which is a beautiful clear blue with a teal tint. You can see every rock, every fish, every ripple across the water. There were people swimming, dogs splashing, families kayaking. After walking along for a little over two miles I couldn’t take it anymore. The envy rushed over me and I needed to be in that water, too. I hightailed it back to my car, put on my swimsuit and tried to find this little parking lot across the river I saw while hiking with beach access. I found it, but you had to pay 8 dollars and I knew I wasn’t going to get 8 dollars worth of swimming in. I turned the car around and went back to the trailhead. I hiked in about ¼ of a mile before finding a turn out that went to the river. Crossing over rocks and sticks, I found a nice little sandy corner. It was there I dipped myself into one of the cleanest rivers I have ever seen (later, I would find out it is the 4th cleanest river in the nation). The water was cold, but totally doable. I bobbed around for a bit before laying on my towel and taking a nap while drying off.
Waking up in a beach-sleep haze, and stumbling back to the car, I tried to decide what to do next. There was a trail the man at the visitor’s center had mentioned that was a little farther south from where I was which was perfect because I needed to make my way south eventually anyway. The trail was along the coast and through thick bushes and trees. It was a loop about 1.5 miles long and I made it around in 20 minutes. There was this eerie feeling while walking through those bushes and trees that I was not alone. Knowing that mountain lions and bears are frequently spotted on that trail, I did not want to get caught in the wrong place at the wrong time. That was the one time up until that point that I had been frightened on this trip so far.
Now, after 26 years of life, I’d like to say I think I know my body pretty well and my body was telling me, “I’M HUNGRY FEED ME NOW.” I had some snacks but they weren’t holding me over, I was driving down 101 next to all these national forests and parks and I could not find anywhere with food. Finally, I arrived in a small town named Klamath. They had a hotel, a trailer park, a two pump gas station, and a bar and grill. The bar and grill was small. There were four other costumers there, two of which were locals and two of which were traveling from Florida. The bartender had a harsh sounding voice but was very kind and asked me what I wanted. Food. I really just wanted food. But I ordered a vodka soda and asked about food later. There was another counter on the other side of the bar and grill that made the food. You had to pay for them separately. I am not kidding you when I say I ate one of the best burgers I have ever eaten at that little tiny bar and grill in that little tiny town of Klamath. Hot diggity it was tasty. Juicy, cheesy, full of onions and pickles and cheese and lettuce and some special sauce they called fry sauce. I chowed down, paid for my food, then my drink, and went on my way. I drove through the Avenue of the Giants, but at that point, it was already getting dark and I was spooked right out. The Redwoods tower over you. They leave this feeling of something looming, something alive just above you and all around you. They radiate all sorts of energy. Some of them were wider around than my car from bumper to front. They were seriously stunning, seriously insane, and seriously scary at night. That brings me to the second time I was scared on this trip. I was the only one on this road through the Avenue of the Giants. My headlights barely cut through the darkness. I could not see a single star in the sky because the sky was completely blocked by trees. At one point in time I pulled over to a potential sleep spot but got so nervous thinking about going pee next to my car in the dark that I just kept driving. That night I ended up sleeping in my car in front of a motel that was under construction in some little town that literally had houses and a motel. That’s it. It was another good nights sleep, with an almost potty accident in the morning due to lack of bathroom availability. But don’t worry, my pants stayed dry and I found a place to relieve myself.