Lava flows resume on the north side of Highway 242. These miles of brimstone and burned forest weave upward, making the lava rock experience especially excruciating. My new shoes, longer but wider (mens 9.5 EEEE on my mens size 8.5 length feet) tripped me up constantly. They still aren't wide enough, dammit. After just a few hot afternoon miles, we settled on a campsite in one of the few flat places. It was puffy dirt, lava-ringed with a few stout old trees for shade.
Any Minute and I planned to meet up after a morning's walk at Big Lake Youth Camp. On the way, I paused to take a photo at mile 2000. Lava and burned forest finally receded, and the camp, which must have narrowly escaped a fire at one point, was much nicer than the burn had led me to expect. Tink, Screagle, Timon, Pippin, Birdbath and others were congregated in the Adventists' hiker cabin where phones were charging and relaxing was occurring. Any Minute was cheerfully sorting the contents of her boxes on a bench outside. We stayed for a tasty vegetarian lunch, then pressed on, glad to have forest ahead of us again.
Santiam Pass at Highway 20 was very near when a pair of hikers came into view from the north. Miraculous blonde locks gave away the effervescent presence of one Dr Fierce, and Shazaam with him! We sat and talked for over an hour. They'd returned to the trail at Santiam Pass and had walked barely a few miles before encountering us. So much time elapsed in our catching-up that we all gave in and decided to camp there, since they were determined to continue southbound to Crater Lake. Shazaam, feeling much better, had decided to give it another try before the PCT season ended. So, we enjoyed a night of reminiscing and went our separate ways the next morning.