We set our alarms for thirty minutes later at 430a so we hike out in the dark for a slightly shorter time. I looked at my foot and the swelling had been pushed down to my toes. They were HUGE! The only thing to do was to finish this 9.8 miles out to crater lake. I got emotional in the morning, thinking to myself, "I just have to hike these nine miles out to crater lake and I'll be ok." I also thought about how scared I was going to be starting back solo again. We reach a ridge and I text Lori about my injury. We start off slow but I pick up the pace once I get the miles in. Maybe bc I'm extremely motivated to get there by this point. We have our last break before the final push and GB made me read my blog post from yesterday, I almost teared up reading it.
We finally reach the crater lake hwy. I see a kid at the trailhead and ask if he's going into Mezama and he is not so we do the .5 mile road walk to the guardrail trail. It is quite painful on my feet and very hot. We get to the side trail off the road and GB tells me it's very steep. Like VERY. It's a straight drop off basically on loose dirt. My foot cannot bend in that way. GB says he will take my pack for me and hikes down first and climbs all the way back up and takes my pack down. Ugh. Why is he being so good to me?! I was so blown away with all that he's already helped me with in the last few days. I really hate accepting help, but I had no other choice other than to let him help me. I have never been so happy to see Mezama village. We get there and I immediately rip off my shoes to a huge swollen foot. The swelling was still pushed to my toes so I took off the tape and it started dispersing back to the ankle.
There were so many things I wanted to do: shower, pick up my boxes, eat, elevate my foot. But I couldn't do all. GB calmed me down and called Lori for me from the restaurant. Apparently she wasn't able to get my text from this morning so it was the first she's heard of what happened. She told him she would be at crater lake in a few hours to come get me. What an amazing lady. I went and picked up my boxes. All of them arrived except for Nate and Meg's. New shoes, socks, water filter and resupply. Even snacks from an old friend who was just at crater lake a few days ago. As I was getting stuff done, I hear my name and it's a game and undercover!! I was sooo happy to see them. It's been too long. They were getting dropped off in a nice convertible. I give them a huge hug and they were also so happy to see GB. They hadn't seen him since the sierras.
We then all go have lunch at the restaurant. I order the salad bar and pile a huge plate of goodies. We catch up and I am surrounded by some of my favorite hikers. We are finally all together at the same time and I am bummed I will not be continuing on with them to walk the rim. I head back to Mezama in case Lori shows up. The sun is out and it is hot. I lay in what shade I could find and elevate my foot on a wall. Lori pulls up and she gives us the biggest hug. She has literally saved me. Everyone seems to be done w their resupply so Lori gives a game, undercover and gb a ride to the rim village and so that I could finally see the lake for the very first time. The lodge had a observation deck with rocking chairs that overlooks the lake. It was breathtaking!! We were all so happy and sat on the chairs and looked out at the view for a bit. I take my pictures with everyone and then it was finally time for me to say goodbye. What a sad moment to leave all your best trail buddies.
Lori and I make the drive all the way back to Medford. What a strange feeling to be leaving the trail. For an injury that was out of my control. We stop by the natural food store to pick up some arnica gel and Epsom salt. We get back to the hansons and it feels weird to be back since I was just there last week. I get back into the soft bed just as I remembered and I feel at home. I finally take a shower and feel better. I have dinner with Doug and Lori and we talk life. Always meaningful conversations with them. After dinner, my foot looks insanely huge. Probably bc I was sitting for so long. I hurry to bed so I could elevate. What a long day, I pass out immediately.