Cold mornings are back and I think I’d better prepare myself for a few cold nights as I get ready to cross into Washington, which is only 48 miles distant. I’m writing from another famous lodge; the Timberline Lodge. Timberline sits at 6,000 ft on the south side of Mt. Hood, whose 11,235 ft summit can be seen from the back porch. Timberline was built by the Works Progress Administration in the 1930s.
The giant building is a hotel, ski resort, and restaurant. It’s accessible by car so it’s a bit of an eye opener to the PCT hiker who fights up the the last sandy mile to the lodge and is greeted by, literally, busloads of clean people. It’s kinda like the feeling you get if you hike up New Hampshire’s Mt. Washington, where there is a burger stand and lots of motorists on top of that mountain as well. I arrived here last evening, took a birdbath in the men’s room sink, and had dinner at the bar. I camped just behind the lodge in a windy stand of trees with Jen, who is hiking about 2,000 miles of the PCT from Walker Pass to Canada. We’re both going to the famous (at least amongst hikers) breakfast buffet, which opens just an hour from now.
Northern Oregon has been much like central Oregon so far. The PCT passes just underneath a number of dramatic mountain-scapes including those of Three-Fingered Jack, Mt. Washington, Mt. Hood, and my favorite: hulking, gothic Mt. Jefferson. Between mountains, the PCT plunges down in elevation to wind along lakes and through dense forests, making central/northern Oregon one of my favorite places so far. Oregon has certainly been having its share of forest fires. Plumes of smoke can often be seen in the distance and, if the wind is blowing a certain way, the smoke will drift over the PCT, giving the impression of walking through light fog. The PCT has passed several already-burned areas where sometimes tress lie on the ground as charcoal and others still stand, but are bleached white and clearly dead. A whole stand/forest for these silvery ghosts gives an eery late fall or winter impression.
I bumped into Team Sherpa on leaving the Adventist camp a few days back. They had been just hours behind me after leaving Crater Lake and had been following my tracks with Jen. (Apparently I have very distinct footprints). We camped together that night and echanged info, since I’m pretty sure it’s the last time I’ll see them on the PCT. Sherpa was planning a 42-mile day the next day and I from Jen they actually hiked a 45. Optimist wanted to break his brother’s record of 40 miles on the AT.
I also met some new folks, Stu and Sarah. They’re out here on their honeymoon and stared in Ashland, OR. They intend to go all the way to Canada then cover the scenic parts of California. They had originally tried a southbound hike from Canada back in July (?), but were rebuffed by what they considered to be impassable snowdrifts and cornices. We had a good day together, chatting about Stu’s budding career as a writer, places in the world to hike, and books.
I’ll be heading out after breakfast and getting to the Columbia River and the Washington border at Cascade Locks tomorrow night. I’m looking forward to meeting mom’s cousin Ross, who lives in nearby Hood River. Hopefully I can take a day off there to plan logistics for Washington and to start thinking about how I’ll be getting home