Jude Lake to Breitenbush Lake – 10 miles
I had a much more casual day planned following my near-marathon hike through Warm Springs Indian Reservation. Not surprisingly, I slept for over 10 hours, waking up a bit after 7 a.m. It was overcast and cool but thankfully not raining. The mosquitoes at Jude Lake were just as bad in the morning, if not worse, so I got packed and moving as quickly as I could once I was up and out of my tent.
It was an easy three and a half mile hike to reach the shores of Olallie Lake, and the tiny, remote and rustic Olallie Lake Resort. I dropped my pack on the front porch of the resort store right around 9:30 and my first order of business was to get some fresh coffee. What a luxury! On the whole the little store was pretty sparse with just enough basics to get by. They did know their clientele well – in the back corner of the store there was a large fridge full of beer. I picked out a few snacks and of course an Oregon-brewed beer to enjoy with my lunch.
Unfortunately the lake was off-limits for swimming. Olallie Lake is considered one of the most pristine lakes in Oregon and the water is filtered and piped to the campgrounds and the resort as drinking water. It would’ve been nice to rinse off a bit, even in the cold water, but I respected the restriction. I later learned that there was another lake nearby for swimming but the mosquitos were a bit more aggressive there than at the shores of Olallie.
There were about a dozen other PCT hikers hanging around and I quickly got to chatting and socializing. Most of the hikers were going northbound and they were able to tell me details about the snow conditions to the south. I also met a couple southbound hikers, a pair of brothers from Ashford, WA. They seemed vaguely familiar. After a bit of back and forth we realised that we’d met two summers earlier on the PCT in Alpine Lakes Wilderness. That year they’d been horse packing a section of the trail with a couple of friends. This year it was just the two of them without horses.
I spent a few hours relaxing around the store and the nearby campground. The weather improved as the morning turned to afternoon and I started to get a better look at Mount Jefferson across the lake. The trail would take me to the foot of the glaciated mountain the next day.
I delayed as long as I could but I knew I eventually had to get moving. I repacked my bag, throwing in a couple more snacks from the store and a can of hard cider to enjoy with dinner.
I wasn’t in too big of a hurry as I climbed out of the lake basin. I moseyed my way up the trail as it ascended about 700 feet in 3 miles. There was a great rocky viewpoint spot that overlooked the lake basin, with views of Olallie and several other nearby lakes. I caught up with a family group I’d met earlier at the resort and enjoyed chatting with them at the viewpoint. They were nearly done a section hike from Mount Hood to Breitenbush. I realized that I was craving some social time and decided to tag along with them to the next campsite.
We hiked along a high ridge that gave us great views of the Breitenbush River valley and some red-rock buttes before descending to a dirt road junction. At the junction we turned off the PCT and hiked a short quarter mile to a somewhat abandoned-looking forest service campground at Breitenbush Lake. It was a surprisingly beautiful spot, with a wonderful breeze to keep the mosquitoes away.
I really enjoyed my social day. I hadn’t realised how lonely I’d been feeling out on trail until I spent that day swapping stories and sharing meals with other hikers. Unfortunately my new friends would be turning off the PCT the next day to finish their section hike so I could only hope that there’d be more southbound hikers down the trail.