Slack packing has been a blur. We are up early to either start hiking out of camp or to be driven somewhere up a ways to start hiking back towards camp, and then we hike as quickly as we can to get back to camp at a decent time. This part of Oregon that we have been hiking to varies from nice pine needle trail to steep sandy slopes, blow down comes in waves but all the mosquitos seem to have died. We have seen a lot of people that we know, passed a lot of people that we don’t. Most days we have been hiking without the camera because carrying it means two extra pounds in our packs and our packs need to be as light as possible. So what are we carrying? A pretty pared down version of the ten essentials:
- Water (and aquamira to purify more water)
- Very sparse first aid kit
- Phone with maps (actually the Guthook and Halfmile’s app) which is also a compass and a camera
- Rain coat and pants, while would act as warmth if we had to spend the night out
- Our down jackets on longer days
- Our very light tarp on longer days
- An emergency blanket
- The battery charger for our phone
- Our permit and IDs
All of that in tiny light little backpack, which feels like heaven to hike in. Obviously hiking with light packs is amazing, but actually the best part about slack packing is getting into camp every day and having everything already set up, and not having to tear down camp in the morning before we leave. Having my moms there to do that is such a blessing. It has also acquainted us with all the small resorts in Oregon. So since we have zero pictures to show for our slack packing (except for Crater Lake, that day we sucked it up and carried the camera) I will instead give a review of the lake resorts in the area, just in case anyone was planning a little car camping tour of them.
Elk Lake Resort:
Elk Lake Resort was not our favorite of the resorts, but the food was great. When we arrived there were cars upon cars lining the drive down to the restaurant which sits on the lake. My mom had gotten into one of the hiker sites, which is tucked away from the RV sites. It is a pretty terrible site, full of trees, and there was hardly space for more than one tent but we managed to squeeze two in. Of all the resorts it was the wildest, with live music and people and dogs running all over the place. It was clear a lot of people that weren’t staying there had stopped by to eat and enjoy the entertainment. There were a lot of hikers hanging around, catching taxis into bend and dancing. Because we had such an early morning the next day we weren’t super stoked on all the noise but the resort does have quiet hours starting at ten. Also, the port-a-johns hadn’t been emptied in a while, they smelled pretty heinous. Also someone had a pet pig. It wasn’t a terrible place but it also wasn’t an amazing resort, I am not sure I would return.
Shelter Cove Resort:
Shelter Cove was like a haven. I mean, there is the possibility that we were a little delirious when we rolled in after our forty seven mile day, but it was quaint, woodsy, pristine, and classy, all rolled into one. The campsites were awesome, large green grass lawns stretched out in front of the lake for lounging on, the showers and laundry were clean and easy to use, the store well stocked. There was even a espresso stand on site for my mom to get her morning coffee from. It was a calm little oasis, well manicured and taken care of. When we got in late at night twinkling lights lit the way, rimming the wooden sign at its entrance, strung along the buildings and in the trees. It felt like a little Christmas Village, thrust into summer and next to a lake. The cabins were adorable and every one was unique. We seriously never wanted to leave.
Diamond Lake Resort:
Diamond Lake Resort was the only spot where we had been able to reserve an actual indoor room on such short notice (we made all these reservations in Cascade Locks, so as you can tell these resorts are quite popular). The resort has none of the woodsy charm of Shelter Cove, instead it resembles a Forest Service compound of some sort, peeling plain buildings spread all around the property, painted a seafoam green. Our room itself wasn’t bad, especially by PCT standards, but there was no Wifi which we had been hoping for or even cell phone service. The restaurant, which screamed 70s motel architecture wasn’t appealing to us and we had heard there was a pizza place down at the other end of the lake. We ordered for take out and drove down there to pick it up. You would never suspect that the shack we parked in front of housed a pizza joint but sure enough, there was a restaurant inside. On the drive there and back you could see a couple of different campgrounds in the area, all of which looked nice, and a really wonderful paved bike trail that looked like it might wrap around most of the lake. In retrospect we should have just stayed in one of the campgrounds, but we had been looking forward to a shower. It turned out to be our second shower in two days, but after a long day it still feels good, plus the trail had been made absurdly dusty and we were already filthy. The pizza turned out to be pretty good, and I practically fell asleep with a slice in my mouth while we watched NatGeo.
Mazama Village Campground:
The next day we met my mom up on the rim trail at Crater Lake and hiked back down to the campground with her where she had managed to secure a spot. This was the only place where we had been unable to reserve a campsite ahead of time, so we were a little nervous about getting a campsite, it is Crater Lake after all. But my mom was able to get a great spot backed up against a ravine and we ended up only having neighbors on one side. The Mazama Village Campground is a beautiful car camping spot, with trails winding around the outside and big sites with room for lots of tents. The store is well stocked and we were even able to buy my mom a new camp stove, right in time to cook a big pasta meal which would have been hard on our little pocket rocket. At the store they also have showers, which we were unaware off till it was too late.
Fish Lake Resort:
Fish Lake Resort is nice and seems to be the least popular of all the places we have stayed, almost all the sites around us are empty, but perhaps everyone is down in the full hookup sites. There are a couple of run down buildings scattered around the property and the first site they put my mom in backed up on power lines and a weird parking lot filled with car trailers and old RVs but then she asked to move to a different site, which is much nicer. This is the first campsite where we have been pestered by critters though. When we bring out the smallest morsel of food we are either swarmed by hornets (we actually ate in the car) or surrounded by chipmunks who are clearly used to being fed. The restaurant has a game room and the hiker burger looked big. There is a shower and bathrooms in a little bath house down the hill from us. Our site is gigantic and has power to charge our phone at.
So if you couldn’t tell Shelter Cove wins the resort tour, and luckily for us it is the only place we stayed two nights at. All that is left is another forty mile day into Ashland and then a zero in town. Then my mom will head back home and we will continue on towards California, where we still have a shocking number of miles to cover before we too can head back to the Northwest.