Date: Monday, 31 July 2017
Start: Camped by the trail at Mile 2069.7, 3471 ft
Finish: Camped by the trail, and just behind Timberline Lodge, at Mile 2094.4, 6014 ft
Daily Miles: 24.7 PCT
Total PCT Miles: 1554.1
Weather: Very warm and sunny
Breakfast: Pop tarts
Lunch: Candy bars and peanuts
Dinner: Pizza and ice-cream sundae
Aches: Very tired. Had a minor fall reminding me that the ribs and side injured 10 days ago are still very sore. I am still having trouble sleeping because of this injury and still taking anti-inflammatories.
Highlight: Two long, but good, days’ hiking got me to the historic Timberline Lodge (built during the Great Depression and carefully maintained) in time for dinner, and their famous buffet breakfast tomorrow. I hadn’t planned to get here tonight, because of the distances involved, but good trail and determined effort paid off. I called earlier in the day to see if I could get a room at the Lodge, but they only had a family suite left at $350, so I declined. Instead, like about 10 other PCT hikers, I am camped in a copse of pine trees about 200 metres behind the Lodge, which is owned by National Forests. The staff are used to PCT hikers and welcome them, despite knowing we are all camped nearby (perfectly legally), and walking around the lodge’s fantastic lounges this evening I can spot my PCT colleagues lounging in chairs, their devices recharging from any available power points, and using the free Wi-Fi to catch up with the world. Tomorrow we will all be back here for breakfast before continuing on our way.
Lowlight: The last mile or two of the climb to the Lodge today was steep and on a very loose sandy trail in very warm conditions. It was very hard work and seemed cruel at the end of a long day.
Pictures: Click here
After my long day yesterday, I realised that it may be possible to reach Timberline Lodge (see above) in time for dinner this evening if I made a determined effort, and the trail wasn’t too arduous. Therefore, I woke a little earlier, at 5:00am (headlamp needed to pack up), and was walking an hour later. It was cold and I wished I had gloves, but knew I would soon be wishing for cooler conditions. It was forecast to be very warm today and then there is a heat warning for the next four days with the local area likely to break longstanding records (~ 107°F). I’m not looking forward to that! Anyway, for this morning, the early cold temperatures encouraged vigorous walking and I made good time on a relatively flat trail through lovely, and dark, forests.
As the sun rose, the trail skirted the large Timothy Lake, before turning towards snow-capped Mt Hood (11200 ft) and beginning the long 3000 ft climb, mostly through pleasant forest, to Timberline Lodge. The trail remained good, apart from the last couple of miles (see above), and I reached the copse of woods behind the Lodge around 5:15pm.
Looking south from the Lodge, Mt Jefferson, where I was two days ago, can be seen, flanked by a thick column of smoke. Apparently, the wildfire I saw as I passed through the area has grown substantially and is now threatening the beautiful Jefferson Park. The PCT is now closed for 11 miles, and a roadwalk of 44 miles is required to bypass the closed section. I feel very lucky to have just made it through, and feel sorry for those caught by the closure.
There were already a couple of PCT hikers camped in the woods behind the Lodge when I arrived, somewhat incongruously co-located with an art class finishing their afternoon assignment. I found a spot a little further away, set up camp, and had a surreptitious flannel wash before changing into more respectable (only relatively) attire before walking the couple of hundred metres down to the Lodge and ordering some pizza from their bistro. It was a happy conclusion to two long days on the trail. Later, I walked around inside the impressive wooden structure, then hung out in one of the lounges, charged my devices and updated my journal, before returning to my tent.