Day 133 – 4 miles
Our ride out to Timothy Lake was rather late which resulted in us getting back to trail later than planned. It also didn’t help that I insisted we stop at the last Blockbuster on the way out. Riding in a car puts me to sleep (like a baby) so when we did get back to the trailhead I was feeling rather drowsy and unmotivated. Luckily Lindsay had the genius idea to only walk a couple of miles to a lakeside campsite and go swimming. So that’s what we did.
Because I ended up skipping basically all of Oregon, the pressure to crush miles into Washington had lessened. I don’t like skipping so many miles but thru hikes often require adapting to sudden changes and releasing the need for tight control. Besides I had a beautiful afternoon by a gorgeous lake with great company and I doubt that would have been possible had I been so intent on making miles happen.
We ended up finding a perfect spot next to Timothy Lake where there was easy access to the shoreline, but felt like it was secluded. Apparently some planes use this lake as a waterway airport to practice their water landings because there were two of them that flew over repeatedly. This didn’t stop us though from blowing up our sleeping pads and using them as floats on the lake. After drying off and eating we retired to our respective tents and I lay there watching the late afternoon sun shimmer on the water as a mama duck and her ducklings floated along the shoreline. It was a nice day.
Day 134: 18.5 miles
The temperature overnight was perfect! It was chilly enough to actually use my sleeping bag and not overheat! I slept great. A side trail went by Little Crater Lake which was beautiful. The deep green and blue of the lake reflected the sky above and the meadows around it were filled with a fragrant Rose Spirea. I also found out was a Corn Lilly looks like after it blossomed.
I was cruising along the trail and looked to the left and Bam! there was Mt Hood. I guess I should have paid more attention because shortly after I fell and rolled my ankle pretty badly. I limped to my lunchspot and saw Lindsay. We were soon surrounded by at least 15 other thru hikers. I’m now a part of the “fire bubble” that is full of all the hikers who had to skip around the recent fires. Some even had to hitch from as far away as Truckee.
Lindsay and I planned to camp along the ridge before Timberline Lodge. There was a designated campsite right behind the Lodge but we figured it’d be full of people by the time we got there. Besides the spot we picked had a front row seat to Mt Hood. The only issue is that apparently the mountain is made of sand and it was windy.
We cowboy camped (I wouldn’t have been able to keep my tent up anyway) and I ended up with sand everywhere. But it was worth it. I spent the night watching the stars come out and then the Milky Way emerge. Mt Hood loomed off to the left and the Milky Way formed an arch over me like an umbrella. Laying on my back and looking straight up, the dome of the night sky filled my vision, no earth at all. I let my thoughts wander and it felt like I could be floating in space of it weren’t for the tether of my body. Eventually my mind calmed and I felt peacefully insignificant in the light of the vast universe. I fell asleep with the dust swirling around me.
Day 135: 11.4 miles
I woke to a glorious sunrise, all vibrant pinks and sherbert oranges. Then I curled up shrimp style and went back to sleep. Me and Lindsay were going to the Timberline Lodge’s famed breakfast buffet and it didn’t open till 0800 anyway. We got going after awhile to get out of the dusty wind though and it was only a mile walk to delicious food. For some reason I kept thinking that I didn’t deserve it because I didn’t work hard enough. WTF? I shut that voice up and got to eating a variety of delights. Near the waffle making station was a plate of what I thought was butter. I put some on my waffle and found out after a bite that it was whip cream. It was so good I went and got another waffle just to slather that ambrosia on. After eating way too much and drinking a carafe of coffee, we went out to the sitting area to digest.
We talked with another lady named Alaska who was a park ranger. We all kept saying we’ll get going in a minute and then not doing it. Around noon Id sat for long enough and started back on trail. The path around and leading away from the lodge was filled with hordes of day hikers and overnighters. It was like trying to to walk around at Disneyland.
My pace apprently has gotten better, because I soon left them all behind and ate up the trail. After every bend there was another view of Mt Hood to the right. I almost got lost near Lost Creek which was apropos and gave me flash backs to Mission Creek. The trail had gotten washed put at some point and now you just sorta winged it to get around the water.
Not long after finding the trail I ended up at Ramona Falls. It was reminiscent of Burney Falls where the water is pouring out of volcanic rock in multiple lacey falls, but on a more immediate and intimate scale. You could go right up to it and get a cooling shower of mist. I sat here for 30 minutes eating snacks and resting my feet.
There was a nice log bridge on the trail after I got going that I fell on for no discernable reason. I just fell out like an old person with low blood pressure. I fell right down to my left knee with the full force of my whole body and pack. I crawled to the end of the bridge and sat there crying in pain and frustration. Why do I keep falling? Is this a pattern?
Other hikers walked by, asking in concern if I was okay, making me feel even worse. Now I’d be that crying hiker. Lol. I pulled myself together and limped to the closest campsite which actually turned out quite nice. It was a mossy enclave next to a chilly creek. I set up camp and called it a night.
Day 136: 27.1 miles
I got going early because I’d have go make big miles in order to get to Cascade Locks on time for my friend to pick me up. It was a mix of forest and wide open ridges. After lunch were a bunch of blow downs that handed me my whole ass. I had to stop every 25 feet and crawl under a tree. It was frustrating. That combined with the heat and the overgrown trail I was starting to feel overwhelmed. The great thing about being out here is that I can just let it out. The trees don’t care that I’m alternating between crying and screaming. And I don’t have to bury those emotions for later processing (though to be honest, they’ll probably just stay butied.) I can just feel my feeling and excrete them like the copious amounts of sweat I’ve been drenched in.
Eventually the trail opened up to a view of the mountains to the north. I asked a passing day hiker if he knew their names and he told me they were from left to right: Mt St Helens, Mt Ranier, and Mt Adams. I made it back into the woods to the lovely and soothing walk into Wahtum Lake where I’d get back onto the Eagle Creek trail alternate. It was a true green tunnel, but it was well maintained and a delightful walk. I got into a burn area near sunset and the campsite I was planning on staying at was already full. I found a little spot nearby next to some charred but live trees. It was late and my feet hurt, but I walked over a marathon!
Day 137: 12ish miles
I had to walk down the trail a significant distance to do my morning business because a man had set up camp right next to the trail (and kept his white light on for over an hour when he was making camp well after 10pm). There was nowhere to go that wasn’t in view of him. So my steps were quick until I found a suitable spot.
I slowed down when I got to the creek. It was a cool cliffside walk next to the water down below. There were a couple of spots that made the perfect swimming hole, literal pools in the shelves of rock. There were a couple of amazing falls – 7 mile and Twister. The coupe de grace though wa Tunnel Falls. You come around a bend and there it is, a huge narrow waterfall into a pool below. The trail is cut out of the fern covered rock and goes underneath the falls itself. The tunnel is full of verdant green plant life and it feels like you’ve gone back in time to another world. I had this special spot to myself for about ten minutes before someone else showed up.
The trail down to the trailhead quickly got crowded with day hikers as it was Saturday. I was categorizing them by their smells: detergent, perfume, or soap. I’d hate to think what category they’d put me in. I got down to the trailhead and started the walk on the old highway into Casade Locks. I put on some Dolly Pardon and cruised. By noon I was walking under the Bridge of the Gods and heading to Thunder Island for a burger. I saw Lindsay there and we chatted while I waited for my friend Sally to pick me up. I was sad that Lindsay would be going ahead because it’s so rare that I find someone that easy to talk to. But I already made plans to visit Portland and my friends there and I still needed to send out my resupply for Washtington. Also it’s been a long time since I’ve seen some of these friends so this was a welcome respite.
Days 138-140: 0 miles
I ended up staying longer that I’d originally planned. I got to see some friends I haven’t seen in years. I got my resupply done for Washington. I ate a bunch of food and took a bunch of showers. I hung out with my dear friend Sally and her David, who valiantly made Eclair Cake. I’ve gotten the itch to get back out on trail though. Not to keep any schedule, but just to get it done. I’m cautiously excited to see what new lessons and experiences Washington will offer.