Jon dropped us off right at the trailhead after a nice light lunch at Callahan's. Though Callahan's caters to a more upscale crowd than dirty hiker trash, they were very nice and accomodating, even providing a second floor lounge for trail-weary hikers to sit, rummage through hiker boxes and stow their packs while eating in the dining room. We waved to him, still trying to impress upon him how crucial his help had been to getting us back on trail. Others had done several days worth of hitching, taken buses, even flown to get back to a hikeable part of the trail.
Water was very scarce in this section, leading us to a county campground in one case, to a very silty lake outflow in another. Though thicker and a bit more diverse, the southern Oregon forest lacked the vibrancy of the wetter northern portion of the state. Lava flows began about 40 miles in. Long lanes of imported red lava rock had been placed to demarcate the path through ubiquitous local black brimstone. Each step was uneven, painful and gritty. Sun blasted us on the open flows. Fish Lake, another unplanned stop, looked like a very good idea.
After some good food and an opportunity to use another roll of gauze, this time on a tourist who had fallen on lava rock which had pierced deeply into his ankle (I just bandaged him for the car ride to the hospital, he was going into shock), we got a ride into Medford and got Any Minute some better shoes. The lava rock had broken down both her shoes and feet.
Crater Lake, hub of lava fields, was packed with hikers when we arrived. Like every other mail stop, we ended up waiting days for some useless employee to pull her head out of the back room somewhere with our packages. All of our forwarded packages from Burney, Etna, Seiad Valley, etc., were to be shipped to Crater Lake. Eventually, things were found and sorted out. Hikers we hadn't seen in ages came through, including Lobster and Trinket, Timon's crew, Pippin, Dogger, Zen Dawg and some other loveable tramps. While we waited on mail, it poured and hailed. Very good timing, weatherwise.