Thursday, August 1, 2013

Part 154 - AsABat Dies

When I left the resort in the early afternoon, most of the hikers were still there, either sitting on the lawn eating fish that a fisherman had cooked and given them, or sitting on the porch in front of the store drinking another round of beer.  Only Runs-with-Elk was packed up and ready to leave.
At the resort, I called Jodie and told her it would be fine for her and Kathy to meet me in Bend, and we set the rendezvous place and time to be on Highway 242 at McKenzie Pass at noon.

Cookie and Storytime didn’t come into Shelter Cove, as both were pushing on to Bend.  Cookie said that she hoped to meet her father in Bend, who was touring the area by bicycle.  I told her that if we arrived at McKenzie Pass at the same time, my wife and I would be glad to give her a lift into Bend.  To this end, we exchanged phone numbers.

Once I made it back to Highway 58, if I had turned left at the junction, within a mile I would have encountered the Willamette Ski Resort.  Instead, once over the highway, the trail turned to the right and eventually passed beside the east shore of the three Rosary Lakes.  I camped for the evening just before Lower Rosary Lake.

The Oregon-Washington Pacific Crest Trail guidebook had this to say about Section E, which was worth quoting:

“In Section E, the PCT traverses three types of terrain.  The first third of this section’s PCT traverses slopes deficient in both views and lakes.  On the middle third, which starts at Irish Lake, the trail traverses flatter land that is still generally viewless but that is peppered with very enjoyable lakes (once the mosquito population dwindles).  On the northern third, the trail skirts the Three Sisters, and views abound of glacier-draped peaks and spreading, sinister lava Flows.” (Schaffer)

In quick succession, I passed by all three Rosary Lakes and four-hundred-foot-high Rosary Rock which is attractive to rock climbers, and came to a trail junction leading to Bobby Lake.  The trail to this lake is as well-worn into the dirt as is the PCT.  I must have been asleep at the wheel as I approached this junction and veered off towards the lake, instead of continuing north on the PCT.  I followed the trail all the way to the lake, never for a moment doubting that it was the PCT.  It was only when the trail started to ascend a group of rocks and disappeared into the brush that I concluded I was somewhere other than where I wanted to be.  I backtracked to the trail junction, reread the trail signs, slapped my forehead for being an idiot in not paying better attention to the trail signage, and moved on.

After a flat walk of several miles, I found a lake and a trail sign that read Charlton Lake. Attached to the bottom of the four-by-four trail signpost was a small ammo can.  I assumed it to be a container for a trail register, and wanting to leave my contribution, I opened the lid to retrieve the notebook.  What I found was not what I expected.  It was a notebook with tributes to William Jeffery, also known in the PCT hiking community, as AsAbat.

William Jeffery, age fifty-four, who went by the trail name of AsAbat, had camped at this lake last year (2012) and was found dead in his tent, having died from natural causes.  AsAbat wasn’t just any trail hiker; he was the compiler of the all-important "Water Report" for Southern California that virtually every hiker depended on.  He was section hiking in the area with his wife driving him to put-in points and then retrieving him at trail’s end
He had departed from Elk Lake farther up the trail, and was hiking south to Shelter Cove at Odell Lake, where his wife was to meet him.  When he didn’t show up as scheduled, she alerted the authorities who conducted a search and located Jeffery at his campsite here at Charlton Lake.

I walked down to the lake to fill up my water bottles, have lunch, and rest a bit. Samba and Tallywa were also there enjoying their lunch. Several hundred feet away was a family of four playing in the water.  I wondered where they had come from and how they got to the lake.  As I’m packing up to leave, the family – mom and dad and two young daughters, walked over to where I was sitting on the ground, and engaged me in conversation.  They were curious to know if I was a PCT hiker, how long I had been on the trail, and had I seen any bears, etc.  In return, I asked them how they arrived here at the lake, for it was obvious they hadn’t hiked in.  They told me there was a major Forest Service road back in the woods that brought campers and recreationalists to Waldo Lake about a mile farther to the west of Charlton Lake.  As I was ready to leave, I followed the family back to where their car was parked in a small trailhead parking lot, found the trail I needed, and continued north. 

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